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What Bills fans need to know about the Bills roster heading into the 2020 offseason

Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (97) Buffalo Bills vs Denver Broncos, November 24, 2019 at New Era Field. Photo by Bill Wippert
Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson (90) and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (97) Buffalo Bills vs Denver Broncos, November 24, 2019 at New Era Field. Photo by Bill Wippert

1. Unrestricted free agents

The Bills have 12 players who are set to enter unrestricted free agency. Should they not sign an extension with the Bills before March 16, they can begin to negotiate with other NFL teams. They cannot officially sign these contracts until March 18 at 4:00 p.m., the start of the new league year.

The Bills unrestricted free agents are: RB Frank Gore, RB Senorise Perry, LG Quinton Spain, T LaAdrian Waddle, DE Shaq Lawson, DT Jordan Phillips, LB Lorenzo Alexander, LB Maurice Alexander, LB Julian Stanford, S Kurt Coleman, CB Kevin Johnson, DB Dean Marlowe.

Frank Gore

The Bills were looking to add a veteran presence to their running back room with the addition of Gore last offseason. Gore has been integral to the development of Devin Singletary and still contributed on the field at age 36. He was second on the team in rushing with 599 yards and had the most carries of any player (166.)

Quinton Spain

Spain was added in 2019 after he spent his whole career as the left guard of the Tennessee Titans. Spain signed a one-year deal and will be a free agent again this offseason. He played and started every game, played every snap, and didn't allow a single sack.

Shaq Lawson

Lawson put in his best season to date. He finished the regular season with a career-high 6.5 sacks along with 12 tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hits.

Jordan Phillips

Phillips earned the starting role at defensive tackle midway through the season. He led the team in sacks and tackles for a loss with 9.5 and 13, respectively.

Lorenzo Alexander

Alexander has already announced his retirement and is the only player on the Bills roster currently not expected back for next season. He leaves a hole at outside linebacker.

Kevin Johnson

Johnson rotated with Levi Wallace at the cornerback spot opposite of Tre'Davious White throughout the year. He signed a one-year deal last season and finished with 32 tackles with five passes defensed.

Julian Stanford

Stanford played a team-high 273 special teams snaps and ranked tied for third on the team with five special teams tackles.


Spain and Lawson acknowledge they want to come back

Bills top free agents, Quinton Spain and Shaq Lawson, each expressed their desire to return to the Bills organization next season.

Spain, would like to sign as soon as possible.

"I'm going to leave that to my agent," Spain said. "I told my agent, if they really want me and want me to be here, I would like to get something done before free agency starts."

Offensive lineman Mitch Morse spoke highly of Spain.

"We'd love to have him back. He deserves to get paid this offseason. The guy started every game, I don't know if he missed a snap. A great person to be around, smart as hell, he made this offensive line so much better, helped me out a lot. I owe a lot to Quinton Spain," Morse said on WGR-550.

Lawson, spoke openly about his situation during locker cleanout day and what it meant for Buffalo to not pick up his fifth-year option.

"That motivated me all year. Didn't pick it up, I mean, that's saying something," Lawson said. "I knew what I had to do and hopefully I got the team's eyes, the Bills' eye, hopefully … I want to be here, but have to see how everything works out."

General manager Brandon Beane was very receptive to the business side of football and allowing players to explore their options, even if they are someone they want back.

"If you have a guy that you want, whatever player it is, you'd love to go ahead and get something done before they get to free agency," Beane said. "But I also respect the business part of it. We have to make business decisions that are sometimes painful, because you get to be around these guys, and you love them, and you appreciate what they've done for you. I don't hold it against any of them if they say hey I really want to be here, but I want to wait a little closer to free agency and get a feel for my market because maybe I don't think where your offer is at, I think I can get more, or I just want to make sure before I commit."

Frank Gore to contemplate retirement

Frank Gore has played in the NFL for 15 years and more games than anyone from the running back position. He's not sure of his NFL future.

"I don't know," Gore said. "I'm going to take some time off. My body still feels good and I felt like I showed people I can still play this game when I got opportunities. I'm going to take some time and think about it."

Gore's son is now old enough to begin college, where he'll play running back.

"My son is going to be going to college," Gore said. "So, I'll sit down with him and go from there. I'm not in a rush to make a decision. I know I still can play this game. But I'm going to get away from it and I'll see."

2. Restricted free agents

The Bills have one player who is set to become a restricted free agent. Restricted free agents are players who have accrued exactly three seasons worth of professional experience. Should Buffalo place a tender on these players, it will have the opportunity to match any contract offer that they receive from other teams. Teams must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents by March 18 in order to retain their rights.

WR Isaiah McKenzie

McKenzie did not begin his career with the Buffalo Bills and acquired him in 2018 after he was cut by the Denver Broncos. On Nov. 5, 2018 McKenzie was added by Buffalo and has played in every game but one since.

McKenzie finished his first full season as a Buffalo Bill with 27 receptions for 254 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed eight times for 49 yards and was utilized in kick and punt return situations. McKenzie ranked fifth on the team in receptions and fourth in receiving yards this season.

3. Exclusive rights free agents

The Bills are set to have three exclusive rights free agents – free agents with less than three accrued seasons who are unable to negotiate with other teams. Buffalo must submit an offer to these players by March 18 in order to retain exclusive negotiating rights.

The three players are: WR Robert Foster, TE Jason Croom, CB Levi Wallace

Robert Foster

Foster didn't match his stats from his rookie season and was put into a backup role with the additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley this past offseason. Thought to be a breakout candidate, Foster caught three passes in 13 games for 64 yards.

Levi Wallace

The second-year cornerback started all 16 games, produced two interceptions and nine passes defensed. As the Bills No. 2 corner, he was key contributor to Buffalo's top pass defense.

4. Key returning starters

Twenty starters are slated to return to Buffalo for the 2020 season. They include: QB Josh Allen, RB Devin Singletary, FB Patrick Di Marco, WR John Brown, WR Cole Beasley, TE Dawson Knox, LT Dion Dawkins, C Mitch Morse, RG Jon Feliciano, RT Cody Ford, DE Jerry Hughes, DE Trent Murphy, DT Ed Oliver, DT Star Lotulelei, LB Matt Milano, LB Tremaine Edmunds, CB Tre'Davious White, CB Levi Wallace, S Micah Hyde, S Jordan Poyer.

Singletary, their top rusher will return and is under contract through 2022.

Five of the six leading receivers (Brown, Beasley, Singletary, Knox, Yeldon) are under contract for at least one more season. The top-six tacklers (Edmunds, Poyer, Milano, Wallace, Hyde, White) and every player who recorded an interception (Edmunds, Poyer, Wallace, White, Hyde, Murphy, Lotulelei) return as well.

The Bills three specialists (K Stephen Hauschka, P Corey Bojorquez, LS Reid Ferguson) are under contract as well through 2020.

Hauschka finished the regular season making his last nine field goal attempts and made every kick during the Bills' playoff loss. He made 30 of 32 PATs and 22 of 28 field goals on the season.

WR/KR Andre Roberts was one of the top returners in the NFL, averaging 26.6 yards per kickoff return and 8.0 yards per punt return.

Bojorquez set the team record for punts inside the 20 with 34.

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