6 questions the Bills must face this offseason
The Buffalo Bills face their most uncertain offseason in years.
The Bills have their tightest salary cap situation in the Sean McDermott-Brandon Beane era, meaning several moves will need to be made to get the team into a stable financial position. In addition, several long-term members and current free agents may be signing new contracts with other teams when the NFL’s signing period starts in three weeks.
Buffalo entered last season with the best odds to win Super Bowl. The Bills fell short after an emotional season, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals on home soil in the AFC divisional round. However, the cracks in the foundation were present throughout the season.
Now, Buffalo needs to take a careful look moving forward to place them in a situation that will keep them in a position among the top teams in the NFL. But, there are several questions the Bills must address ahead of free agency.
Here are six questions that Buffalo faces throughout the offseason.
What do the Bills do with Tremaine Edmunds' contract situation?
Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Tremaine Edmunds has been a focal point of the Buffalo Bills defense since entering the league in 2018. Edmunds started 74 games, recorded 565 total tackles, registered 32 tackles for loss, sacked quarterbacks six-and-a-half times, and swiped five interceptions in five seasons with Buffalo.
More importantly, Edmunds can play in virtually any situation as a linebacker. He can blitz, plug run gaps, defend in coverage, and play sideline-to-sideline with ease. His physical skill set is exemplary, and his mental understanding of McDermott’s defense is stellar. Edmunds’ flexibility has given McDermott a multitude of ways to unleash the linebacker on opposing offenses.
Now, Edmunds is going to get paid.
Spotrac lists Edmunds’ market value at $11 million. However, this number will swell when suitors start throwing contract numbers at the 24-year-old. Can the Bills absorb another major contract? This could be challenging for Buffalo, as they will likely have to pony up at least $15 million per year to retain Edmunds’ services. Otherwise, the Bills may need to look for other options to fill a major hole in their defense.
What will Buffalo do with Jordan Poyer?
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Poyer has exceeded all expectations in Buffalo. He has been an All-Pro and Pro-Bowler while in a Bills uniform. He, along with Micah Hyde, has been among the league’s best safety duos during their time together. Last season, Poyer stepped up after Hyde’s season-ending injury. Furthermore, Poyer played through several injuries to contribute to Buffalo’s defense.
In six seasons with Buffalo, Poyer recorded 582 tackles, 10 sacks, and 22 interceptions. When the Bills were fielding young talent at cornerback, it was the duo of Poyer and Hyde that helped stabilize the secondary.
Now, Poyer has a chance to score a massive payday. Poyer does have an injury history, but his production is so impressive that teams will likely pay a premium for his services. Poyer has hinted about his exit from Buffalo, with either a “Last Dance” header on Twitter or sharing how he’d like to play for a city that sees the sun.
If the Bills cannot swing a deal to keep Poyer in the cold confines of Buffalo, the team will face another major hole to fill with their defense. Could Buffalo strike gold and find a replacement that follows the trajectory of Poyer with the Bills? That would be ideal, but it’s far from certain.
Will the Bills face major roster turnover?
Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo has 23 players on the free agency slate this year: 20 unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents. The number isn’t exactly overwhelming, but the possible loss of production of the players is worrisome. Among this group of players are core contributors and significant depth pieces who saw quality snaps throughout the year.
In addition to Poyer and Edmunds, Buffalo will need to address contract situations with Devin Singletary, Rodger Saffold, Jordan Phillips, Jamison Crowder, Dan Quessenberry, and Shaq Lawson.
Buffalo is in a precarious salary cap situation at this point. The Bills are currently $18.7 million over the cap, according to Spotrac. The Bills can restructure some contracts to create salary cap space. However, it seems like a sure thing that several players will be moving on to different teams.
Buffalo will need to prioritize which players can fit into their salary structure. That’s no mystery. The challenge will be signing (or re-signing) productive players to fill roles in Buffalo.
How do the Bills deal with the running back situation?
Bills running back Devin Singletary rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries against the Dolphins.
Buffalo could be moving on from 2018 third-round pick Devin Singletary. Singletary is ranked as the 9th-best free agent running back, according to Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports. The running back position is in flux for several teams, so the future of the running back market is a bit murky.
Still, if Singletary wants to take a chance and pursue a bigger payday, he will likely seek it via free agency. This would leave Buffalo with James Cook and Nyheim Hines as the only running backs under contract for next year.
Buffalo has brought in running backs via free agency and added veterans to supplement the group. This could be Buffalo’s path once again. However, finding an RB1 in the draft
Who steps up at wide receiver for the Bills?
Bills receiver Gabe Davis bis pushed out of bounds after a deep catch.
The Buffalo Bills could use more stability at the wide receiver position. The group behind Stefon Diggs left a bit to be desired last year. Buffalo had hoped that increasing Gabe Davis’ role, signing Jamison Crowder, re-signing Isaiah McKenzie, and drafting Khalil Shakir would provide Josh Allen with sufficient secondary options in the passing game.
Instead, it ended with the Bills re-signing John Brown and Cole Beasley, both of whom were struggling to remain on NFL rosters last year.
Whether it’s on the actual cast of secondary receivers, Ken Dorsey’s playcalling, the offensive line, or Josh Allen’s decision-making, Buffalo has to find consistently reliable options behind Diggs.
The Bills will need to decide if they wish to use their draft capital to select a standout receiver early or surf the free agent market for an option. However, it seems the bargain options for receivers might not be the best way to fill this role.
What about the offensive line?
(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Buffalo’s offensive line was inconsistent throughout the season. Once again, there are questions about what caused the struggles throughout the year. No matter the game, though, it seemed like Josh Allen was running for his life at some point in the game.
Hopefully, Spencer Brown can develop a bit more. Brown was behind the eight ball after returning late to training due to surgery. Dion Dawkins faced some challenging pass rushers and did fairly well at times. Mitch Morse showed his importance in the center of the line, but he is battling injury issues as well.
At the guard position, Saffold is a free agent, and Ryan Bates has had some ups and downs throughout the year. Thus, the interior of the line needs to be a priority moving forward. However, will Buffalo rely on Ike Boettger to be in the fold for next year? Or, do the Bills look at an option in the draft?