With Mario Williams signed to a mammoth deal, the Bills likely don’t have the money or desire to bring inanyone else in free agency. The Bills could still possibly bring back a few of their own guys, such as Kraig Urbik, Bryan Scott, Chad Rinehart, or maybe Derek Hagan, but don’t expect to see any other new faces via free agency.
That means the Bills pretty much have their roster set with the obvious exception of the drafted and undrafted rookies the Bills will add before training camp. So if the season were starting today, what would the starting lineup likely be? Let’s take a look. Some positions are obvious, but we’ll talk about some of the more interesting spots.
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB: Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller combo – Jackson will start, but Spiller’s too talented to not get nearly half the RB touches.
WR: Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones – Johnson is obvious. #2 WR is anyone’s guess. I’ll say that Jones opens the year as the starter because he was the starter before his injury in 2011. He’ll face a ton of competition though from Marcus Easley, David Nelson, Ruvell Martin, and any rookies brought in.
TE: Scott Chandler
C: Eric Wood
G: Andy Levitre, Michael Jasper - Levitre will of course start, but Jasper gets the nod simply because there’s no other guards on the roster.
T: Chris Hairston, Erik Pears - Obvious choices for now. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bills try to upgrade at left tackle or at least bring in some competition for Hairston.
DE: Mario Williams, Chris Kelsay - I’m sure a lot of fans are cringing to see Kelsay’s name here, but at least he’s better suited for 4-3 DE than 3-4 OLB. The Bills could try a lot of guys in that spot as well, such as Dwan Edwards, Shawne Merriman, Alex Carrington, and Spencer Johnson. That will be a position to watch, especially if the Bills draft a DE or two.
DT: Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus
SLB: Kirk Morrison – The veteran will get the nod until the Bills draft and develop a replacement.
MLB: Kelvin Sheppard - Dave Wannstedt is very high on Sheppard’s ability to man the middle. Let’s hope he’s right.
WLB: Nick Barnett
CB: Terrence McGee, Aaron Williams – This might end up as one of the more interesting training camp battles. There’s at least five guys here (McGee, Williams, Justin Rogers, Leodis McKelvin, Drayton Florence) who will push for a starting role, and that’s assuming the Bills don’t draft anyone.
SS: George Wilson – Da’Norris Searcy will play a lot in 2012, but I don’t see him unseating Wilson.
FS: Jairus Byrd
So looking at the lineup as a whole…and it’s pretty solid. In terms of the starting 22, this is a team with enough talent to compete for a playoff spot. There’s still a few spots you’d like to upgrade (#2 WR, DE, SLB, CB, G, LT), but you can win with this team. We’ll see how the Bills attack a few of these weaker positions in the draft.