With last season’s no-salary-cap year and the ensuing madness of the lockout, it was unclear exactly how some contract situations were going to shake out when the lockout was over. Who exactly was going to be a free agent? Would they be restricted or unrestricted?
Fortunately, the NFL released a complete list of free agents last night. Buffalo is in pretty decent shape, as the Bills have just 10 free agents – nine unrestricted and one restricted. There are no big surprises on the list. Here’s the better news: quite a few of these guys wouldn’t be a big loss.
Let’s go through the list and see what the chances are Buffalo re-signs each guy:
S Jon Corto – Corto is basically just a special teams guy at this point, but he’s a pretty good one. Buffalo tendered him an offer before the lockout, and I’d be pretty surprised if he didn’t take the offer. I’m not sure how much value he’d have to other teams.
LB Akin Ayodele – One of the trio of unspectacular veteran linebackers the Bills brought in last season (Andra Davis and Reggie Torbor being the others), I’m not sure if he’s worth bringing back. The Bills drafted two inside linebackers and might be able to upgrade via free agency as well. Ayodele wasn’t great last season, with one commentator calling him the 18th-worst player in the league.
QB Brian Brohm – Brohm’s had a rough go of it in his NFL career thus far. The former 2nd-round (!) pick by Green Bay didn’t last very long as a Packer and hasn’t shown much as a Buffalo backup in recent seasons. I’d be very surprised to see him back. The Bills will most likely sign a veteran to serve as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup and bring in an undrafted rookie to compete with Levi Brown for the #3 spot, leaving no room for Brohm.
LB Keith Ellison – Ellison, a former sixth-round pick, has scratched out a pretty decent career despite his natural speed and size limitations. He’s just not a very good fit at all in a 3-4 defense and I can’t see him in Buffalo this season.
CB Drayton Florence – Here’s a guy the Bills would miss. Buffalo’s best corner last season should find plenty of suitors should he decide to truly test the waters. Buffalo might have to overspend to keep him, but it might be worth it.
DT John McCargo – And another former first-round pick bites the dust. See ya, John.
LB Paul Posluszny – He’ll probably be Buffalo’s #1 re-signing priority. The Bills will likely throw a big, big contract at him. I can’t see another team matching it. He’s simply more valuable to Buffalo than anyone else.
TE Jonathan Stupar – The former preseason superstar finally got his chance for extended playing time last season…but didn’t do much with it. He won’t be back.
S Donte Whitner – Oh boy. Who knows? Will some team (dumbly) pay Whitner like a top-five safety? I hope the Bills can bring him back, but they won’t break the bank for him. He’ll be one to watch over the next week. His Twitter feed will be fun at least.
CB Ashton Youboty – The Bills have waited and waited for this guy to come around, but he’s either been hurt or ineffective most of the time. He’s done in Buffalo.
All in all, there’s only three guys here who are a priority at all. This should leave plenty of room to sign free agents should the Bills decide to be aggressive.