The Buffalo Bills made a huge splash last year in free agency by signing Mario Williams to a $100 million contract, and while he was solid in his first year with the team, he obviously didn’t make a big enough difference to get his team over the top.
The Bills obviously aren’t averse to spending cash on the free agent market, and I think with a new head coach this offseason and some high draft picks, they can afford to make some more sensible, less expensive moves.
Here are the Bills’ top needs this offseason, in no particular order.
With a new head coach typically comes a new quarterback. The Bills could hope Geno Smith falls to them with their first pick, or they could take a top player on their board and trade back into the first round for a quarterback like Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson, or maybe Mike Glennon. I’m personally not sold the Bills will take a quarterback in the first round, but many feel like they are going to reach for one. I don’t think they’ll be players for a QB on the free agent market after signing Ryan Fitzpatrick and not seeing great results.
2. Wide Receiver
It’s been reported the Bills could let #2 receiver Donald Jones go, and I think Stevie Johnson has a chance to be really productive with a good vertical threat on the outside for the Bills. Obviously the QB situation must get straightened out, but the Bills have only one draft pick (T.J. Graham) at the WR position other than Johnson coming back for sure who made a significant impact last season. I think the Bills could look to this position in the second or third round.
3. Pass Rush
Mark Anderson wasn’t a great pickup, generating just 12 tackles and 1 sack in five games after signing a relatively large FA contract. The Bills have Mario Williams, who is an elite pass rusher, but they don’t have much else off the edge in terms of depth. They could look for a starter and/or depth at the rush linebacker position.
Nick Barnett was released, and the Bills have a lot of uncertainty at the linebacker positions. As of right now, Kelvin Sheppard will be the leading returning tackler for this team after it released Barnett and safety George Wilson, so there will be a need at the linebacker position.
Jairus Byrd should be brought back, but his situation isn’t stable being an unrestricted free agent. Da’Norris Searcy was a fourth round pick in 2011 who is projected as the other starter at safety after George Wilson was cut, but the Bills may need to look to free agency or the draft to upgrade this position with a more talented, high upside player.