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Top 5 things we learned from Bills GM Brandon Beane's season-ending press conference and what to expect in 2024


Bills general manager Brandon Beane spoke with the media for over an hour Tuesday from One Bills Drive, going in depth on his thoughts about Buffalo's season and what's next for the four-time defending AFC East champions.

While it wasn't the ending that he or anyone in the organization wanted, Beane still believes the team is built to contend for years to come.

Here are the top five things to know from Beane's press conference:

Josh Allen + team's recent success keep Bills as contenders

Every season that the Bills don't reach their goal of a Super Bowl, there's naturally going to be questions asked if their window is closing. Beane stated that because of the perpetual roster turnover in the league each offseason, he looks at the Bills timeline in a different way and believes they are still among the AFC contenders due to their quarterback.

"I don't get into that 'window is closed' mindset. Your team is always changing and evolving," he said. "You're constantly changing the roster. But this is a quarterback league, and I believe in the guy we've got under center."

Beane commended the team's resilience throughout a season in which they started 6-6, then won five straight to end the regular season and earn the No. 2 seed. Buffalo made it to at least the divisional round for the fourth straight season and Beane doesn't believe the season is a failure because they couldn't advance further. Had a few more plays broken their way against Kansas City, things may have been different.

"We were right there. So while we're extremely disappointed — nobody's more disappointed than me — I'm also not gonna just throw the whole season out and say, 'Let's tear this thing up and start over.'," Beane said. "And we will be in that situation again and you hope with experience and time on task and more opportunities that those three to five plays that I was talking about, we'll make them and we'll advance to the next round."

Assessing the play-calling duties of Sean McDermott and Joe Brady

Beane praised the job of both head coach Sean McDermott and interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady for how they were able to guide the Bills through adversity this season.

For McDermott, it was the first time in his career that he was both a head coach and defensive coordinator in the same season and for Brady, it was just his second stint in his career as an offensive play caller when he took over in Week 11. 

Whether the Bills decide to promote Brady OC permanently or decide to seek an outside hire, a formal interviewing process will still take place for that position.

"I thought Joe did a really good job. We obviously have to go through that internally here and we're working on all those internal things here between Sean and myself and Terry (Pegula)," Beane said.

The Bills averaged 27.4 points in the nine games that Brady was the interim OC and Beane will take a look at keeping Brady in that same role for 2024.

"I think Joe did a really good job and deserves serious consideration for this job," he said.

Beane also pointed out that he was impressed with the way Brady and Josh Allen meshed together in terms of communication, preparation and translating that into on field success.

"It was his first time with Josh calling the plays. Like anything, that should continue to get better. But I really appreciated the communication I saw between the two of those guys, the collaboration. That's important. Because Josh is the gunslinger back there but he is also that coordinator on the field," Beane said. 

An important part of the hiring process for the offensive coordinator job will be viewing it  through a long term lens.

"We've got to make sure it's right. You don't want to have to make a midseason change like we did this time. So, you're always learning, you're always listening. And we'll do our due diligence here," added Beane.

As for McDermott, Beane felt that the head coach did a "really good job" calling plays for the defense, especially considering the amount of injuries that unit dealt with at different points of the year. 

"I thought with some of the injuries we had down the stretch, I thought he found the right pieces to generate pressure or cover up some holes on the back end where we were playing with some more depth players versus starters. Like anything I'm sure there's plays or calls in a game, or a decision here or there. You're never going to bat 1.000 on those," Beane said. "But you know, we're not sitting here in this building going, 'man, I don't think Sean McDermott can do the job'."

What to expect from the roster changes

The Bills have 21 players scheduled to become free agents this offseason. Those potential changes, combined with salary cap management, leads Beane to believe the Bills will have to get creative with their roster building for the 2024 season.

"We don't have the same money we had going into 2019, 2020," he said. "But we will work around it. We're not planning to take a year off and just not be competitive."

Beane explained that getting younger at key positions, hitting on their draft picks and striving to create depth are priorities for him in the offseason. He also warned that Buffalo may not be as aggressive in pursuit of the top free agents, yet is confident he can do enough to keep the Bills in position to be a Super Bowl contender next season.

"Sometimes when you're trying to work your cap and when you're paying a quarterback up here, and we've definitely been aggressive on some pieces the last couple of years. That's not going to be an option," he said. "But I'm not laying my head down at night going, we don't have a shot at it next year."

In order to work the cap, Beane believes it makes sense to continue to explore signing some players to one-year contracts.

"The one year deals, yes, we'll have to do some of that. We'll have to be selective," he said.

Beane also gave updates on injured players from the season and their outlook for next year.

LB Matt Milano (leg) and CB Tre'Davious White (Achilles) are still progressing through their rehab and Beane is receiving positive reports on both.

"I feel like Matt's probably closer to being through rehab than Tre, but I don't know specific timelines or dates, they'll keep working here until they're fully healthy and ready to roll."

RBs Damien Harris (neck) and Nyheim Hines (knee) are also doing well in their recovery.

"(Damien) is close to being ready to return. I think he'll be healthy for free agency this offseason, whether he signed back here or or signed somewhere else," Beane shared. "Nyheim, he had that surgery in early August. So he's still working on his rehab. And I don't have a timeline to say he's going to be cleared, but I would see him being cleared by training camp."

The next evolution of the Bills offense

QB Josh Allen led the NFL in total touchdowns in 2023, but he was just one of many bright spots on the offense this season. The emergence of second year players RB James Cook and WR Khalil Shakir along with rookies TE Dalton Kincaid and OG O'Cyrus Torrence give Buffalo a strong nucleus to build around going forward.

Despite a late-season dip in production from WR Stefon Diggs, Beane is confident that he can still be a catalyst for the Bills next season.

"Stef's, he's a number one receiver. I firmly believe that, not wavering off of that," Beane stated. "We have to continue to put weapons out there to keep teams from bracketing him or locking him down in different ways to take him away."

One of the ways Beane envisions helping take pressure off Diggs is by potentially adding more speedy, vertical threats to the offense.

"We're always looking for mismatches and I said that when we drafted Dalton, when we brought Cook here, you know, trying to find various mismatches," Beane explained. "So, yes, any guy that causes the defense that you can put them in a look and get them where you can dictate to them. And if that's another receiver to offset Stef or whoever else, yes, we wouldn't hesitate to do that."

Kincaid set the Bills rookie reception record and is poised to be a major contributor for years to come. Buffalo already had 2022 Pro Bowler Dawson Knox at the position but selected Kincaid in the first round for the matchup problems he can create alongside Knox. The second year of both of those players on the field will only help the team's offense.

"I would see both those guys helping us going forward," Beane said. "And again, giving Joe various options, depending on who you're playing. There's gonna be some games where 12 personnel is better than 11 or maybe even 13 and maybe 21. So it'll be still a week to week thing, how much we're in 12 versus 11. But we're going to need them both."

Beane also reiterated points from Allen and McDermott that offseason rest — not surgery — is the only thing that's been discussed for Allen's shoulder injury from early in the season.

Beane addressed questions regarding a range of Bills players and his thoughts on their 2023 performance and their roles on the team moving forward.

Terrel Bernard

Beane gave credit to linebacker Terrel Bernard for stepping up into a leadership role in his first year as a starter and just his second year in the NFL. Ahead of the season Bernard was named the starting middle linebacker, meaning he called the plays on the defense, and lost his counterpart All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano just five weeks into the season.

The Bills linebacker sustained an ankle injury against Pittsburgh in the Super Wild Card round of the playoffs, and it was clear to the team doctors that he would not be able to play the following week against Kansas City.

"This kid kept saying every day, 'I'm playing, I'm playing," Beane said. "And we go work him out the day before the game and some of the things look good, some of it he still struggled. And he got done and knew he couldn't do it and just the tears, I mean the tears in his eyes. … That's what gets you excited … this guy was going to go out there and play on one leg and one foot if he had to."

DaQuan Jones

Beane said the defense greatly felt the absence of Jones after he sustained a pectoral injury in Week 5 and did not return until Week 17 against the New England Patriots. The defensive tackle finished the season with 2.5 sacks and three stuffs while playing in only seven games.

"DaQuan is a good player, first and foremost, a longtime starter in this league," Beane said. "Beyond that, he's a leader and he's well-respected. He makes others around him better, so you would want a DaQuan Jones around. We would love to get him back."

Beane said that Jones, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has "earned the right to test his market" but that the Bills would "be a fool not to entertain bringing him back."

Gabe Davis

Davis, who the Bills drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, has scored seven touchdowns in all but one of his four seasons — with the lone exception being a six-touchdown performance in 2021.

"Gabe is just a relentless worker, almost too much. You have to tell him to get away from it," Beane said. "And he deserves everything he's gotten, all the success he's had. He believes in himself and he sees himself as a guy that can do more and wants the opportunities."

Beane said that, similar to DaQuan, the Bills would love to have Davis back on the roster but understand that the wide receiver will test the market in free agency.

"It has to work for him. It has to work for us," Beane said.

Kaiir Elam

The Bills' 2022 first round draft pick was placed on the injured reserve on Nov. 2 but was activated in late December. In total, Elam played in three games for the Bills this season while being listed as active for five.

Beane said that Elam's foot injury was bothering him long before he was placed on injured reserve.

"I do think the foot deal bothered him more than he let anyone know at the end of training camp," Beane said. "And yes, he was playing with it, but I don't think he looked like himself there. … I think the best thing we did was let our medical team work on him and get him healthy."

Beane said Elam "works hard" and while they are not necessarily going to name him a starter next season that "anything can be earned."

Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer:

The safety tandem of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer has been a defining duo in the Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane era. From their play on the field to their impact in the locker room, Hyde and Poyer have been integral leaders for the defense as well as the building as a whole.

"I don't know that I've ever seen two safeties play seven seasons together. I know Micah's year got cut short last year a little bit, but I'm amazed at all they did for us, not only on the field but the culture here and every day," Beane said. "You're not going to find two better pros than that and two guys to be back there. What they did was amazing."

With the 33-year-old Hyde entering free agency and Poyer entering his second of a two-year deal, Beane said the future of the secondary is yet to be determined.

"Micah is a free agent. So we'll see where his head is at and Jordan has one year left. We haven't gotten down the road as far as what we're going to do from that standpoint," Beane said. "I would just say if Micah retired or we couldn't afford to sign him if he played or something like that, we would definitively miss that."

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