The national pundits have plenty to say about the Bills when it comes to free agency, which draws closer as the calendar turns to March. With the most cap room they’ve had in years and upgrades to make on offense, there is no shortage of opinions on whom and where Buffalo should shell out some dollars to fortify their team.
1. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell – Pieces needed around Josh Allen
As far as Barnwell is concerned, this offseason is all about improving the talent level on offense. In an appearance on One Bills Live, Barnwell said the Bills have capably put themselves in position to execute such a plan.
“I think they’ve been looking to this offseason all along,” said Barnwell. “All the moves they’ve made over the last two seasons were about clearing out cap space and getting rid of contracts from guys from years past who they didn’t feel were very effective. They’ve got their quarterback in Josh Allen. This offseason is about getting the pieces around Josh Allen. They’ve going to have to add receivers. The offensive line is going to be a point of attention for them.”
In terms of some specific names that Barnwell feels can fit what the Bills need, he proposed a free agent option and a trade option.
“Some people who make sense for the Bills are guys like (Chargers free agent) Tyrell Williams,” Barnwell said. “You have Josh Allen and you know he can throw the ball anywhere on the field. So, get him a threat who can stretch the field. Robert Foster did a nice job last year, but you add someone like Tyrell Williams, a big body, someone who can catch those jump balls and scare teams away from putting that second safety in the box and challenging that running game. It could open up their offense in a lot of ways.
“So I could see them going after a downfield threat like Williams or they could trade for a player like Kenny Stills for example. The Dolphins are rebuilding and might not need a receiver making eight or nine million dollars. So that could be an option for them.”
2. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal – It all starts on the edge
A much different viewpoint is held by NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal, who sees an opportunity to not only keep Buffalo’s defense elite but push it to the best in the league. As head coach Sean McDermott frequently says, ‘It all starts up front.’
Although he acknowledges that the Bills need reinforcements on offense, this is an awfully strong year in free agency and in the draft for pass rushers.
“Defensively, you’d love to find an edge rusher in the draft or free agency because that’s a deeper position just to help balance things out,” Rosenthal said. “That can be a weapon for a quarterback too, having a great defense.”
Beyond that, Rosenthal does agree that GM Brandon Beane has a lot to improve on the offensive side of the ball.
“There’s almost no position on offense where they couldn’t improve. Literally they need help everywhere on offense,” he said. “They’ve got to give Josh Allen a chance and that’s by giving him more support, with a line first and foremost and more talent around him.”
3. ESPN’s Mike Clay – Bills can contend with right moves
Free agency offers an opportunity for every NFL club to fill holes, right wrongs or push a team over the top. Appearing on One Bills Live recently, ESPN’s Mike Clay sees this free agency period as the chance to lift Buffalo into playoff contention this fall. But the upgrades need to lift Josh Allen’s game for that to happen.
“They have to get some weapons for Josh Allen,” said Clay. “I’ve been hard on him about his accuracy, but he also didn’t have a great supporting cast. Get him an O-line and get him some guys to throw to and we’ll see what he can do in 2019.”
Clay didn’t have the best quarterback grade for Buffalo’s signal callers as a group (2.7), which was fourth-lowest in the league, but he’s willing to wait and see what GM Brandon Beane can do to support the young quarterback and give him better options to turn to on offense. That should push Allen’s game in the right direction too.
“If he takes a step forward, if he throws the ball a bit better and continues to run and they get him more weapons and the defense holds up this is a team that can get eight, nine or 10 wins and get into the playoffs,” Clay said.