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HomeSportsBills stake financial stability on big-ticket free agents: So far, what's next

Bills stake financial stability on big-ticket free agents: So far, what’s next

Orchard Park – This time, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane wasn't pulling a smokescreen when he was asked about the team's potential to make a big splash in free agency.

Beane warned fans through the media a few weeks ago Buffalo likely to sign big-money free agent at NFL Scouting Combine were not good Some of us rolled our eyes because at the 2022 conjunction, Beane said the same thing and then a month later, Von Miller was in the house at a possible cost of $120 million. With $51.4 million guaranteed.

But as the first few days of 2023 free agency rush subsides, the Bills really played it close to the vest with some mid-tier signings and the re-signing of their own free agents by safety Jordan on top. A hard pore.

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“We want to be competitive every year and some years, you're not going to be able to add a big-ticket item,” Beane reiterated during a press conference at One Bills Drive on Thursday.

he has already executed the four biggest salary restructuring at his disposal Josh Allen, Von Miller, Matt Milano and Stefon Diggs combined to make about $43 million, enough not only to match the cap but to build on the deals they've already made.

However, all those dollars will have to be accounted for in the future and he can't continue to push that type of money down the road because even with annual increases in the salary cap, the bills will continue to press.

Isaiah McKenzie was released on Friday in a move that freed up nearly $2 million in much-needed salary cap space.

“We still have the money, we just have to be smart,” Beane said. “If we spend too much of it, it means we have to find more people to restructure. Not that I'm against it, but the more you do, the bigger the avalanche gets.

As of Friday afternoon, sports contracts website Spotrac.com had bills for about $14.9 million in available capital. However, Beane will need about $7 million to sign the 2023 draft class, about $3 million for the practice squad that will be put together when the regular season starts, and something to save in case the Bills need to make ends meet. . Runs in-season.

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Thus, unless Beane is falling back on other salary cap moves — he used one Friday by cutting wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and shelling out nearly $2 million — the Bills probably aren't going to sign any star-level players. Are. The good is that this is still a very good roster that doesn't need a major influx of talent, so Beane will continue to work in free agency, then look to add contributors in the NFL Draft.

Here's a breakdown of where the Bills stand, and what they can do to upgrade in a few places:

Quarterback: Kyle Allen completes the room

Allen Case replaces Keenum as Josh Allen's backup, and not only is he eight years younger than Keenum, he's a better athlete, costs less, and has enough playing experience under his belt to If Josh ever gets hurt, Bill can rest easy.

Remember, Josh no longer needed an old mentor as his backup, and Beane said that fact played a role in signing Kyle.

“It's not like it was two, three, four years ago with Josh,” Beane said. “We don't think it should be a 30-year-old guy. We like (Kyle's) skill set, I think he started closer to 20 games … so he brings some experience with it. He's athletic, He can do all the throws. It's good to have him in the mix.

Running Back: A Downhill Runner Would Be Good

The Bills want James Cook to start running back full-time, but still need a big back.

The Bills want James Cook to start running back full-time, but still need a big back.

Nyheim Hines renegotiated his contract this year to lower his cap hit by $1.4 million, and he and James Cook give Buffalo a nice pair of shifty runners with pass-catching skills. The Bills lack a guy who can get tough yards in short yards and goal-line situations to take some of the burden off Allen, and Beane acknowledged that Thursday. “Yeah, we'll probably at some point between now and training camp add someone who's a little bit heavier (than Cook and Hines),” he said.

As long as Devin Singletary remains unsigned, I have a feeling a reunion is in the offing, but as much as the Bills love him, returning all three from last season isn't wise.

Nor will trading for Derrick Henry, or signing big-money guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt and Damien Harris because spending that type of money on a running back is hardly worth it. And I'm not at all a fan of drafting anyone in the first round.

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Several free agents who fit the bill are already signed elsewhere (I like Jamal Williams and De'Onta Foreman), but someone like Browns' free agent De Ernest Johnson will do the job. Johnson was buried behind Hunt and Nick Chubb in Cleveland and barely played his first four years, but when he got a chance in 2021 due to injuries to both of them, the 5-foot-10, 208-pounder The average was 5.3 yards per carry. Another advantage is that he has been a solid special teams player for the Browns with 733 career snaps.

Wide receiver: Deonte Harty hasn't finalized the position

Harty will be an intriguing weapon given his speed and elusiveness, and the fact that he can line up in or out of the slot. It looks like he's the replacement for Mackenzie who was released on Friday in a move that opened up $2 million in cap space.

But the 5-6, 170-pound Harty isn't built to play more than 900 snaps, and with Gabe Davis heading into his walk year, the Bills need to fill that out. If they're going to be off the for Odell Beckham Jr., or don't make a trade offer to acquire Denver's Jerry Jeudy, I guess first round of the draft is the way to go, The cost would be cheap, and with Davis still here, the time is right to craft his eventual replacement.

Offensive Line: Guard will be an interesting matchup

Guard Connor McGovern is the biggest money signing everBut unless I'm missing something, he'll have to win the job in a competition with his old Penn State teammates Ryan Bates and Ike Boettger, who the Bills re-signed to a one-year deal.

McGovern was a very good pass blocker for the Cowboys and not a very good run blocker so it's not like he is a slam dunk. I think drafting one in the first round is too much unless a guard is something the Bills absolutely love, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bills take a guard in the second or third round.

I know McGovern and Betts are each locked down for three years, but Bill Betts can opt out of the deal and only eat a dead cap hit of $1.75 million in 2024, and Boettger can become a free agent in 2024. Can Competition can add up, and that competition proves as someone who can make a long-term start, it's a smart .

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Defensive Line: Could Another High Draft Pick Be Coming?

AJ Apenesa is heading into the final year of his rookie contract.

AJ Apenesa is heading into the final year of his rookie contract.

The Bills have already put recent draft capital into play with players like Ed Oliver, Greg Russo, AJ Apenesa and Boogie Basham. But Oliver and Apanesa will be free agents in 2024 and Basham has been anything but mediocre in his first two seasons.

And then when you look inward, DaQuan Jones will also be a free agent in 2024 and behind him and Oliver as early as 2023 are Tim Settle, Brandin Bryant and Eli Ankou. That's it.

If Von Miller is not going to be available at the start of the season, the Bills may need to increase the lead rush and while a first round pick may be a reach, there will be a number of options available in the second and third rounds. ,

They could play it back and re-sign free agents Shaq Lawson and/or Jordan Phillips, but haven't we seen enough of that show? There's a case to be made that they need to spend an early-round pick on a defensive tackle as well.

Linebacker: The New No. 1 Priority With Tremaine Edmonds Gone

Bringing back Jordan Poyer in free agency was a nice win for Beane as it would have filled a huge hole. Now, the Bills' secondary looks great with Poyer and Micah Hyde at safety, and Tre'Davis White, K'ire Elam and Teron Johnson at the boundary and nickel corners.

But Bowling for big, big bucks with Edmonds the Bear, The Bills are in dire need of a middle linebacker. Beane said Matt Milano was being ruled out, and while he put forward the idea that Edmonds' replacement could already be on the team in the form of Tyrell Dodson, Terrell Bernard or Baylon Specter, is anyone buying it? Those three are special teamers in my opinion.

I like some of the linebackers that may be available when the Bills go into the second round, but this is a critical position that may require a veteran signing. Unfortunately, great options like TJ Edwards, Alex Anzalone, Lavonte David and Devin Bush are gone and the rest of the market is very thin.

Sal Maiorana can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana. To subscribe to the Bills Blast of the Year newsletter, which will come out every Friday during the offseason, please follow this link: https://profile.democratandchronicle.com/newsletters/bills-blast

This article was originally published at the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: Buffalo Bills free agency: So far so far, what lies ahead in 2023

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