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What Bills fans need to know about NFL Free Agency in 2023

Buffalo Bills practice, November 27, 2022 at One Bills Drive.
Buffalo Bills practice, November 27, 2022 at One Bills Drive.

The legal contract negotiating window for NFL clubs to contact prospective free agent players has been open since Monday, March 13 at noon, but the official start of free agency doesn't begin until 4 p.m. today. 

During that window, the Bills have announced they've already agreed to terms with LB Matt Milano on a contract extension through the 2026 and they've re-signed CB Cam Lewis, LB Tyrel Dodson, P Sam Martin and LB Tyler LB Tyler Matakevich.

Here's what Bills fans need to know about the rest of the 2023 free agent market and Buffalo's role in it.

Restricted free agents

The Bills entered the offseason with three restricted free agents, which means these players are free to negotiate and sign with any team, but their original team can offer them one of various qualifying offers (also known as "tenders").

The players that fall into this category for the Bills are CB Cam Lewis, LB Tyrel Dodson and CB Dane Jackson. Luckily for Buffalo, they have already re-signed Lewis and Dodson to one-year deals prior to the start of free agency.

Unrestricted free agents

The Bills started the offseason with 20 unrestricted free agents. These players are free to negotiate and sign with any team. After announcing deals with P Sam Martin and LB Tyler Matakevich, that total is down to 18. 

Offense: QB Case Keenum, OL Rodger Saffold, OL Greg Van Roten, OL Ike Boettger, OL Bobby Hart, OL David Quessenberry, WR Jamison Crowder, WR Jake Kumerow, RB Taiwan Jones, RB Devin Singletary and TE Tommy Sweeney.

Defense: LB Tremaine Edmunds, S Jordan Poyer, DT Jordan Phillips, DE Shaq Lawson, S Dean Marlowe, LB AJ Klein, CB Dane Jackson (restricted free agent) and S Jaquan Johnson.

There have already been reports of contract agreements between a few of these players and other clubs: Keenum (Houston) and Edmunds (Chicago).

What to expect from Buffalo

Groundwork was laid by the Bills ahead of free agency to clear cap space to operate as reports say the team restructured a few contracts to get under the NFL Salary Cap.

This move was hinted at by GM Brandon Beane at the onset of the offseason.

"I think I've said it multiple times, we're not trying to go all in in one or two seasons, but we'll be creative, we'll do things. We may have to rework a few contracts. It's not that we're not going to do that. But I also don't want to, in two years, be $100 million over the cap like we've seen teams have to do," he said in late January.

Beane also said not to expect a blockbuster signing such as the Von Miller deal last offseason, but rather the team is looking at making sure it maximizes its draft capital (six total picks) and finding holes to fix across the roster.

"We gotta hit on draft picks, we gotta find low-cost free agents that can find roles, whether it's key backup, a solid starter, whatever it is. And so, it'll be on me and our scouting staff to make the right moves," Beane said.

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