Thursday was a busy day at One Bills Drive as three new free agent signings and one familiar face signed their contracts with the Buffalo Bills.
New additions WR Deonte Harty, G Connor McGovern and QB Kyle Allen all officially became a Bill. The splashy news of the day was Jordan Poyer re-signing to a two-year deal to stay in Buffalo.
Bills GM Brandon Beane spoke at length Thursday afternoon about the free agent signings, how the deal got done to keep Poyer and what's next for Buffalo's roster. Here are the top five things we learned from Beane.
1) How the new signings fit in the Bills' system
Buffalo added three fresh faces to the team on Thursday, all of them on the offensive side of the ball. The team signed guard Connor McGovern to a three-year contract, WR Deonte Harty to a two-year deal and QB Kyle Allen to a one-year deal to backup Josh Allen.
McGovern showcased an ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line while playing for the Cowboys the last several seasons, but there was another aspect of his game that jumped out to Beane and the Bills coaching staff.
"Just steady. That's probably what I would say. A steady player. He's firm. He sets a firm pocket," Beane shared.
The Bills were already aware — at least partially — of McGovern's skillset as Beane and the coaching staff met with him in Indianapolis in 2019 when the offensive lineman was working out at the NFL Combine. Dallas ended up drafting McGovern, but the Buffalo staff knew he could potentially be a fit for their system down the line.
"Really good in pass-pro. I think his best football is still ahead of him. He's very smart," Beane said.
Deonte Harty, a 2019 All-Pro with the Saints on special teams, has a very desirable trait the Bills have been searching for on offense: a player that can get yards after the catch.
"I've mentioned RAC (run after catch) before, when you've got a guy who's a punt returner who plays receiver, those guys generally are pretty good RAC players. We followed him for a couple years and we thought this was a good time to go after him," Beane said.
"I think Deonte fits what we call our 4 role, which is a guy who can play outside and play inside. We've seen him do both in New Orleans," Beane said.
As for Kyle Allen, he is a longtime friend of Josh Allen and the two see the game similarly, according to Beane.
Once the offseason got underway, Buffalo's offensive coaching staff felt it wasn't a top priority for Josh Allen to have a veteran QB as a backup as Allen has now a steady base of NFL experience underneath him. The Bills wanted Case Keenum to return if that was a possibility, but when Keenum got a well-deserved deal in Houston, the priority for the backup QB spot was finding someone who would mesh well with Allen.
"Like his (Kyle's) skill set. He did some good things, I think he started close to 20 games, I don't remember if it's in the high teens," Beane explained. "So he brings some experience with that. He's athletic, he can make all the throws."
2) The Bills aren't done with roster moves just yet
According to Beane, the Bills roster will still continue to fluctuate over the next week or two as the team still is exploring the free agent market, as well as the state of their own roster.
"We're not necessarily done. There's still a lot of free agents out there, we're having conversations," Beane said.
Echoing his point at the onset of the offseason, if the Bills do make another move, Beane said it will be a smaller signing — and one that adds depth to the roster, not necessarily star power.
"I was trying to set expectations," Beane said of his initial offseason message. "You're just not gonna be able to get a big ticket item every year."
The Buffalo GM detailed that these potential signings aren't aimed at any one position in particular, but rather a holistic approach of trying to create competition on the roster and increase the team's depth. The Bills created cap space by way of restructuring several current players' contracts and Beane said the team has around $9 million in available cap space currently.
A portion of that available room must be devoted to signing the Bills' rookie class after the NFL Draft and the Bills may look at other ways to increase the cap space.
"There could even be more cap casualties (roster cuts) as guys are added," Beane said.
3) Open competition at the MLB spot
Beane shared that while it was tough to lose MLB Tremaine Edmunds to Chicago in free agency, the Bills have multiple routes they could take to fill that open spot.
"Sometimes your answer is on your roster. We think Tyrel, getting Dodson back on a one-year deal, him, obviously we had the two draft picks last year in (Terrel) Bernard and (Baylon) Spector, they've been in our program a year. They're going to be a lot more prepared for the pro game and our defensive system. So it's a competition, and we'll continue to look, whether that's cap casualties, free agency, if there's a player in the draft," he said.
As for the Bills' pursuit of retaining Edmunds, the Bills GM said he hoped they'd be able to keep the MLB, but it's close to impossible to keep everyone you want on the roster in free agency.
"When you're talking about a guy that just hit an $18 million APY, that's hard," Beane said. "That meant if you're going to pay that, then you may say we're going to lose this other guy or we're going to move on from him. You make decisions. You do the best you can. You don't want to lose a guy like Tremaine. Guys like Gabe (Davis) and Ed (Oliver), we'll hope to continue here for longer than their rookie deals that they're currently on."
4) A sweet return for Poyer
The longtime Buffalo safety and fan-favorite Jordan Poyer is sticking around. The 31-year-old inked his two-year deal and said in a press conference of his own that he hopes to finish his career as a Bill.
It was unclear at the beginning of the offseason whether the two sides would be able to come to an agreement, but Beane started to get a feeling early on Wednesday that the Bills had a chance to keep one of their defensive leaders.
"The night before, we had some conversations with Drew (Rosenhaus). But I wouldn't say I went to bed going 'we're gonna have Jordan.' I thought that night it was probably 50/50, there was a chance. Probably a better chance than two days ago but still a way to go to find a spot that worked for him and worked for us," Beane said.
He praised Poyer for his competitive nature throughout the 2022 season, battling through multiple injuries and understanding it was difficult not being able to play alongside his close friend and fellow safety Micah Hyde much of the year as the latter was out with a neck injury. With the secondary duo back in the fold, big things are in store for the Buffalo defense in 2023.
"I think they're the best safety duo that this franchise has had," Beane said. "And if they're not, I'd love to hear who's better than those guys. And beyond their skillset, I mean just pillars of the community, great leaders. They bring it all."
5) Another positive update on Damar Hamlin
Bills safety Damar Hamlin continues to progress from his cardiac arrest, so much so that there have been encouraging signs about his football future.
"He's dialed in. He definitely has every intention to play. He's got, I know of one more visit, but I think they'll get wrapped up by sometime in April, as it stands now," Beane said.
If Hamlin gets proper clearance from the medical team, the Bills will continue to work with and support the safety's desire to return to playing football.
"Everything has checked out to this point, and so it's trending in the right direction," Beane shared. "But we'll get him through all those and then we'll make sure all of our medical people are hearing all those opinions on each visit and make sure that we're all on the same page of what it would look like. But we're rooting for him, he wants to do it and we want to see him do it, and that's probably where it's at today."
Check out the best photos from Buffalo Bills Free Agency 2023 as players sign their contracts, meet with the media and tour the Bills facility.