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What they're saying | Bills earn praise for 2023 free agency moves 

Deonte Harty, Buffalo Bills free agent signing with Brandon Beane, March 16, 2023 at One Bills Drive.
Deonte Harty, Buffalo Bills free agent signing with Brandon Beane, March 16, 2023 at One Bills Drive.

Grade: A

"In a surprising twist, the Bills were able to re-sign star safety Jordan Poyer, agreeing to terms to retain the All-Pro. It seemed like Poyer was all but gone and even indicated that he \may want to join the AFC East rival Dolphins, but after seeing the open market he's heading back to the team he's spent the past six seasons with. For Buffalo, this is a major coup to reinsert Poyer back into its secondary." – Sullivan

"In Buffalo, Harris will be the early-down and goal-line back in an explosive offense that should give him ample chances in the red zone. He won't be a true featured back though, as Harris will be a non-factor in the passing game with James Cook and Nyheim Hinesin the mix. Still, moving to Buffalo should improve his value.

Instead of being stuck behind Stevenson in New England, Harris will likely be atop the depth chart for the Bills. If he can avoid injuries, which has been an issue, Harris could bring back RB3/flex starter totals albeit on an inconsistent basis. Cook is now an RB3/RB4 in PPR formats, and a breakout season is no longer in the cards." – Fabiano

Grade: B+

"Reinforcing your superstar quarterback's offensive line is never a bad move, especially at Connor McGovern's three years, $23 million price tag. The other moves were also easy on the salary cap with All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano's two-year contract extension adding $6 million in room to 2023. Punter Sam Martin's three-year extension worth up to $7.5 million is a good distance away from the top of the punting contract market. All solid moves.

However, some more headline-grabbing transactions could be in the Bills' future with the restructures of quarterback Josh Allen's contract and linebacker Von Miller's contract Monday night opening up a whopping $32 million in cap space for this offseason. On Tuesday, the Bills opened up an additional $5.4 million in room with wide receiver Stefon Diggs restructuring his deal.

Buffalo has since used some of that money to re-sign All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer to a two-year deal, $12.5 million contract. That's a big steal by general manager Brandon Beane. So perhaps there's still a chance to add Odell Beckham Jr.'s." – Podell

Grade: A-

"In each of the past two seasons, no defensive back has cost opposing offenses more EPA when targeted than Poyer, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. It's hard to quantify safeties, but there's no denying Poyer's ball skills. He has been incredibly effective for Buffalo.

And I often think about the 2021 Bills defense as an example of the hidden value of safeties. That was an elite defense despite the fact it lacked a good pass rush and was only decent against the run. Buffalo had a good corner in Tre'Davious White but was anchored by Poyer and Micah Hyde on the back end -- and I believe that was a major factor in its success. Hyde's injury meant we didn't get to see the pair really play together in 2022, but now we'll get another chance. They're both getting up there in age; Hyde is 32, and Poyer will be 32 as well in April. But the Bills are a top Super Bowl contender and it's probably worth it to keep the duo together, especially at this cheap price.

This is basically just a one-year $7 million commitment and if Poyer maintains his level of play for another season, he'll easily be worth the money." - Walder

What this means for the 2023 draft: "The Bills bring back one of the best safeties in football while also delaying the need for at least two more years. GM Brandon Beane drafts ahead for future need, so safety could still be a midround target, but this keeps the team's first-round pick free for a "best player available" addition. Keep an eye on wide receivers, should one fall." – Matt Miller

Jump from No. 5 to No. 4

"If you're among the crowd who believes the Bills owe it to Josh Allen to import more talent at the offensive skill positions, your anxiety is justified. Buffalo has yet to make a notable move in that department, choosing a more low-key approach to free agency one year after the blockbuster Von Miller acquisition. Marquee players like potential trade targets DeAndre Hopkins and Austin Ekeler and free agent Odell Beckham Jr. are there for the taking, but are Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane willing and able to make it work without causing long-term issues? We're all for the prudent management of an organization, of course, but the Bills need to find a way to get over the hump. Adding one more star could make that happen." – Hanzus

"Taylor Rapp's addition improves the Bills' depth at safety behind Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, who re-signed this offseason. Hyde is coming off a neck injury that cost him most of last season, and Poyer battled through a series of injuries, as well." — Skurksi

"This development is a huge victory for the Bills, getting a team captain and player they've loved in their defensive system back for another chance at making it to the Super Bowl. Poyer and Micah Hyde have been starting mainstays at safety since 2017 and complement each other's skills so well. Poyer is an excellent strong safety that offers the versatility to moonlight for some plays at Hyde's usual free safety positioning. Poyer has been a sure tackler and one of the team's best starters since he arrived in Buffalo. Getting him back for 2023, especially after the team lost one of its top defenders in Tremaine Edmunds to free agency, is a monumental development for the upcoming Bills season." — Buscaglia

CB Dane Jackson, one-year deal

What it means: Just two days after originally placing an original round tender on Jackson, who was a restricted free agent, the Bills signed the cornerback to a one-year deal that lowers his cap hit from the about $2.7 million it would have been but provides him some guarantees. Jackson started 14 games for the Bills last year and the seventh-round pick had some up-and-down moments. With Tre'Davious White now healthy and first-round pick Kaiir Elam, who ended the season on a positive note, going into his second year, Jackson will likely provide depth at outside corner.

LB Tyrel Dodson, one-year deal

What it means: The Bills needed depth at linebacker, and especially at middle linebacker with Tremaine Edmunds' signing with the Chicago Bears. Dodson, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019, provides that and is a special teams contributor who has been active for all but one game over the last two seasons (reserve/COVID). The 24-year-old linebacker started a career-high three games in 2022, filling in for Edmunds. He finished the season with 32 tackles, one fumble recovery and a sack. Dodson continues the trend of bringing back solid special teams players, but also adds depth to the linebacker room.

Guard Connor McGovern, three-year deal

What it means: The Bills needed help on the interior of the offensive line and signing McGovern is the first step in addressing that. Last season's starting left guard, Rodger Saffold III, is set to hit free agency and McGovern primarily played left guard for the Cowboys last season (779 of 873 offensive snaps). He also has experience at center and fullback. For an offense which has revolved around quarterback Josh Allen, McGovern's pass blocking ability (93.1% pass block win rate in 2022) will be welcome at left guard.

WR Deonte Harty, two-year deal

What it means: The Bills know they need to add a variety of offensive weapons for quarterback Josh Allen this offseason and signing Harty is the first step in doing just that, in addition to adding a player who has been dynamic as a returner. Harty has lined up both in the slot (126 career routes) and outside (216 career routes) and has averaged 6.59 yards after catch per reception. Adding Harty should be just the beginning in addressing the skill-position with an option at No. 2 receiver still needed. The team also now has multiple solid options at returner on the roster (running back Nyheim Hines).

QB Kyle Allen, one-year deal

What it means: With Case Keenum heading off to Houston, the Bills needed to add to the quarterback room. Enter Kyle Allen, former Texans quarterback and good friend of quarterback Josh Allen, to compete for the backup job. The Bills already have quarterback Matt Barkley, who spent all of last season on the practice squad, set to return. But the team adds a less experienced option than Keenum with Allen, who has been on three different teams -- Panthers, Commanders, Texans -- since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He started a career-high 12 games in 2019 with the Panthers and six games since then, completing 62.6% of his career passes.

CB Cam Lewis, one-year deal

What it means: The Bills continued their trend of the day, bringing back depth and contributors on special teams. Lewis was a restricted free agent and makes sense to bring back on a one-year deal. Primarily a special teams contributor (50.6% of special teams snaps in 2022), Lewis was active in a career-high 13 games last year and the Bills tried moving him to safety after playing cornerback the previous two seasons. The versatility helps here in terms of depth. The team listed him as a cornerback when announcing the deal.

LB Tyler Matakevich, one-year deal

What it means: The Bills continue to prioritize having talent on special teams and investing in that area. Matakevich has been one of the special teams captains the past two seasons and is a key part of the team's success there. Last season, Buffalo had the NFL's best special teams according to ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI). Matakevich, 30, adds depth at linebacker, but only played three defensive snaps last season so this is largely a special teams re-signing.

Rank: No. 6

The five teams ahead of the Bills are the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Jets.

"I'm going to get skewered for this, too. But it seems like the Bills' window with that current roster may have passed them by a bit. This doesn't mean Buffalo is going to be bad, but it is going to continue putting a great deal of stress on Josh Allen offensively and risk what happened toward the end of last season. We're trying to measure how much better a team got over the course of an offseason coupled with how it was trending at season's end, and the Bills added Deonte Harty and Connor McGovern. Buffalo went on a spree of restructures to get itself under the cap this winter, so perhaps it has something else in mind that could inspire some confidence." – Orr

Needs: OL, LB, RB

"The Bills signing Connor McGovern helps out their offensive line needs, but they could still use a potential upgrade at right tackle. With Tremaine Edmunds gone, linebacker goes higher on the needs lost. Though running back isn't a major need, perhaps they look to add a power back in the middle rounds." – Sikkema

Grade: A

"The Bills defense is undergoing some changes following the departure of coordinator Leslie Frazier. As one of the mainstays of the unit, Poyer, 31, will help ensure some continuity. Injury limited Poyer to 12 games in 2022, but he still put up numbers that most safeties aspire to record in a full season: 63 tackles, four interceptions and a forced fumble." – Jones

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.

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