- It’s been a bit more than two years since the Bills hired Sean McDermott as their head coach, and the team has seen a complete roster overhaul since that time. As Alper points out, the Bills are only rostering five players who preceded McDermott’s tenure: running back LeSean McCoy, defensive end Jerry Hughes, defensive end Shaq Lawson, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, and long snapper Reid Ferguson. The number would increase if the team retains any of their impending free agent offensive linemen: Ryan Groy, Jordan Mills and John Miller.
- Speaking of the AFC East, two of the Patriots’ longtime rivals will be in position to make some major moves this offseason if they want to. The Bills “top the list of expected spenders with what should be close to $89 million to spend on free agents” this offseason, while the Jets are in second place “with about $88 million”, writes cap expert Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com. The Jets and general manager Mike Maccagnan haven’t been shy about their desire to make a splash in free agency, while Buffalo will likely be much more conservative. New York has been frequently mentioned as a potential landing spot for Le’Veon Bell, and it’ll be very interesting to see what they do with all that money.
The Bills released tight end Charles Clay. The move was widely expected after Clay’s disappointing 2018 campaign.
Clay, 30, was set to enter the final year of the five-year contract he signed with the Bills back in 2015. Instead, the Bills released him in order to save $4.5MM against the 2019 cap.
Clay proved to be worth the expenditure in his first couple of seasons with Buffalo. From 2015-2017, Clay averaged 52 catches for 546 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, however, he was held without a touchdown catch for the first time in his career and finished out with a weak 21/184 line.
There will be a market for the 30-year-old Arkansas native, but he won’t find anything close to the five-year, $38MM pact he inked with Buffalo in 2015.
With Clay out of the picture, the Bills are presently projected to have about $79MM in cap space this offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Spencer Long will stay in the AFC East. Not long after the Jets released the veteran center, the Bills signed him. The team announced the move.
It will be a three-year, $13MM agreement, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets, adding that Long could earn up to $15MM on this deal.
Thanks to team options for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, it’s effectively a one-year deal, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. Long’s cap numbers if both options are exercised would be $3.9375M (2019), $4.25M (2020) and $4.35M (2021).
The Bills’ offensive line struggled last season, so changes can be expected. Longtime center Eric Wood‘s injury-induced retirement set the recently formidable unit back. Ryan Groy graded as one of the worst centers in the league, per Pro Football Focus, so it isn’t surprising to see Buffalo look to upgrade this position.
A three-year Redskins starter, Long was a first-stringer in 13 Jets games last season. A few of those games came at guard, and while the Jets liked his performance at guard, they still released him at almost the earliest possible offseason juncture.
With nearly $80MM in cap space, the Bills are almost certainly not done addressing their offensive front.
- The Bills made multiple moves in order to trade up and land Josh Allen in the 2018 first round, but Brandon Beane may be looking to move back this year. The third-year Bills GM said recently the team does not need to pick in the top 10, and Mike Rodak of ESPN.com expects Buffalo to engage in trade-down discussions from its No. 9 overall slot.
- With free agency right around the corner, Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com broke down the running backs most likely to be cut this offseason. Carlos Hyde, who has a salary of $4.7MM for the Jaguars while only playing a bit role the second half of the season, is on top of the list. One somewhat surprising name he floats is LeSean McCoy by the Bills, writing that “it’s probably best for both sides to move on.” The team has said in the past that they plan to keep McCoy for 2019, but if they go all in on a youth movement, it wouldn’t be shocking if McCoy wanted out so he could go to a contender in the twilight of his career.
Another former Panthers assistant will land a job on the Bills‘ coaching staff. Buffalo hired Ken Dorsey to be its quarterbacks coach. A former Miami Hurricane standout, prior to his days with the 49ers and Browns, Dorsey spent five seasons as the Panthers’ QBs coach. In 2018, the 37-year-old coach was on Appalachian State’s staff. Dorsey will take over for David Culley, who is now on Baltimore’s staff. The Bills also promoted Chad Hall to wide receivers coach. The 32-year-old former NFLer spent his first two seasons in coaching as a Bills offensive assistant. Another hire the Bills announced this week: bringing in Terry Heffernan to be their assistant offensive line coach. Heffernan has NFL coaching experience, being a Lions staffer earlier this decade, but spent the past three years at Division I-FCS Eastern Kentucky. Heffernan coached under new Bills offensive line coach Bobby Johnson in Detroit.
- The five teams that coveted former Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi — the Bills, Jets, Lions, Packers and Vikings — are no longer in the running for Rizzi, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets. But two other teams are interested. Rizzi and incoming Dolphins HC Brian Flores met recently and decided to part ways, per Salguero (on Twitter).
The Bills have re-signed long snapper Reid Ferguson to a three-year extension, according to a team announcement. Ferguson was set to be an exclusive rights free agent this offseason, meaning that he would not have reached the open market, unless the Bills renounced his rights.
It’s early in the offseason, but the Bills have already started taking care of in-house matters. Earlier this month, the Bills signed Lorenzo Alexander to a new one-year deal and inked offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles to a fresh one-year pact.
The Bills’ list of free agents is rapidly dwindling, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. Here’s the full rundown of the Bills’ FAs-to-be, as of this writing:
Unrestricted Free Agents
Restricted Free Agents
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams has no intention of reversing his decision to retire, as he tells Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter link). “I make a decision, I’ve got to go with it…” said Williams. “You couldn’t dream about coming back and trying to replicate [my final game]. That was such a great day. It’s something I’ll remember forever.” Williams, 35, spent the entirety of his 13-year career in Buffalo, appearing in 178 games during that time.