By a Fan, For the Fans: the Trip From Tomorrow To the Regular season: an Offseason Guide
The Bills have a lot of work to do this off season, as a franchise we are very close to success but need some parts this offseason to push them over the top.
Well it’s that time of year again, Bills fans figuring out what’s ahead for next years offseason before the new year has even rolled around. For the past fourteen years we have not had a team to watch in the postseason, so this is your map along the trail that is the pathway to survive the offseason and weather the storm until we start preseason games next August. This is going to be presented in chronological order starting with tomorrow.
Tomorrow- FIRE DANNY CROSSMAN!!!!!!!! The Bills special teams was an abomination this year, it was truly just terrible year with players who are actually pretty good special team players. I don’t know the man personally and I would gamble that he is a good man, but a NFL special teams coordinator he is not.
February 3- Throw a pile of money at special teams guru Dave Toub, where ever he has gone, he has had major success. Names like Devin Hester, Dexter McCluster, David Akers, and Brian Westbrook are just some of the names that are linked to Toub. Make him the highest paid Special Teams coordinator in the NFL, he could push this team over the top. Toub also has ties to the Bills in that he has was born and raised in the Ossining, NY this would allow him to come back to the state he was born and raised in and coach the one true New York team. Speaking of coordinators, as the Texans are cleaning their coaching house they have one of the best WR coaches of all time in Larry Kirksey, who’s coaching lineage traces through WR’s such as: Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Jimmy Smith, and Andre Johnson. As an assistant coach he would be able to maximize our WR’s potential which I believe is huge. If the Bills were able to land Kirksey it would be a major coup for the Bills. This would help a young, ever developing wide receiving corps to have legendary mentoring that can and will help the Bills now and for seasons to come. Speaking of missing coordinators, the Bills need to hire an expert QB coach to help EJ, Thad and Jeff become Quarterbacks to develop into great young quarterbacks rather then just prospects who never came to fruition. Some names that come to mind are, former Bills QB coach David Lee or quarterback guru Jim Fossil. Either of these candidates would allow both the Quarterbacks and Nathaniel Hackett to grow in their respective games. It would take the pressure off of Nate Hackett, allowing Hackett to focus on purely offensive growth and play calling. It would also allow the quarterbacks to work directly with a dedicated quarterback coach. The Additions of these coordinators would allow the Bills to improve in some of their weakest areas, weaknesses that could easily be fixed through coaching from experienced coordinators.
NFL Combine February 19-25- The Combine can make or break a prospects stock, it can send a twenty odd something year old from relative mediocracy to a household name. It also can take a blue chip sure thing, and send them spiraling down draft boards into the nether regions of day three and beyond. The Bills should equally evaluate every player, but should pay special attention to to Wide Receivers over 6’2′, who have at least, at minimum, a 35″ vertical leap. We also need to look at Offensive Lineman who show strongly in both bench press, and agility drills. These are the lineman the Bills need, they are the ones who have a balance of agility and strength that will fit well in the Bills K gun style offense that the Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will hopefully be able to fully install this offseason. Prospects to watch at this event go as follows for Wide Receivers: Mike Evans, Brandon Coleman, Jordan Matthews, L’damian Washington, Allen Robinson, Jeremy Gallon, and Kelvin Benjamin. For Offensive Lineman the list goes: Jake Matthews OT, Cameron Iriving OT, Taylor Lewan OT, Cyril Richardson OG, Antonio Richardson OT, Xavier S’ua Filo OG, Anthony Steen OG, Bryan Stork OC, Gabe Jackson OG, Brandon Linder OG, Charles Leno OT, Michael Schofield OT, Billy Turner OT, and Ryan Groy OG. Also the Bills should be keeping an eye on Line Backers whom test out well in the 40 yard dash, bench press, as well as agility drills. These include: Anthony Barr OLB, Khalil Mack OLB, Trent Murphy OLB, Michael Sam OLB, Dee Ford OLB/DE, Denicos Allen OLB, Shayne Skov ILB, Christian Jones ILB, Max Bullough ILB, Kyle Ellesworth ILB, and Glenn Carson ILB.
March 8th-11th- When the clock strikes midnight on march 8th the Bills have the opportunity to resign the players they are going to lose to free agency. As soon as the clock strikes 12:01am on the 8th, the Bills need to make one thing a priority RE-SIGN JARIUS BYRD! SERIOUSLY PAY THE MAN! This year was an interesting one for Buffalo and Byrd who signed his franchise tender weeks before the beginning of the regular season then missed the first five games with plantar fasciitis and after a few games of getting accustomed to Mike Pettines defense, found his niche in the defense and excelled. The contract in question should be around the 8.75 million per year with a signing bonus for about 4-6 years. Whether the Bills would rather back load or front load the contract is up to how they think Bryd will play later in his career. The cap hit from this signing will be around 7 million per year, which puts the Bills cap space at around 21 million. If he does not choose to re-sign with the Bills then they will have to franchise tag him, see what his value is come draft time, and try to get as many picks as we can for him. Next step should be to re-sign both Dan Carpenter and Brian Moorman at least to another round of one year contracts to create competition amongst the special teams. Then the Bills can make further decisions when they come to it at mini camp and through the preseason. These contracts should not be very large around 2.5 million for Carpenter, and 1.0 million for Moorman. Now here come some of the tougher decisions on depth players whose fates are now in the hands of the Bills front office and coaching staff. The players that should be retained are: Jarius Byrd, Arthur Moats, Jim Leonhard and Scott Chandler. The players who are on the bubble/should be given one year cuttable contracts are: Frank Summers, Alex Carrington, Brian Moorman, and Dan Carpenter. Now I believe the Bills should keep Moats around to add depth at the Outside Linebacker position, as he has run stop capabilities. Other factors include the fact that he didn’t miss a tackle this year, and that he is Buffalo’s 2013 Walter Peyton Man of the Year. Jim Leonhard has done a bang up job since being signed to the Buffalo Bills earlier in the year, and continues to excel in Mike Pettine run defenses with a stat line this year of: 30 tackles, 5 pass deflections and 4 interceptions, which was near career highs for the ninth year safety. Scott Chandler, like many other players the Bills have put in the starting lineup over the past 5 years, is now one of their best back up players. Chandler has decent hands, is good in the routes that run short to intermediate range, is good a setting the edge in run blocking and a solid safety blanket option for a young quarterback. However, what he is not is a number one option at Tight End, he lacks the vertical speed and physical intangibles to be considered a true deep threat. Chandler should get paid accordingly, he is a solid depth player and a veteran player who is a secondary option to the main target. Franks Summers had a good season with Bills in both the blocking game and as a change of pace back who could sneak a short yardage run or sneak in the end zone for six. Alex Carrington was a star on the rise this past year until a torn quadricep ended his season and at the worst time, during a contract year. I believe the Bills will retain Carrington’s services but it should be at a much lower cost then if he had been able to play a full season this year. Perhaps they sign him to a short contract to see how well his leg has progressed, only time will tell the tale.
March 11 4pm Free Agency Period Begins- Now the Bills have stated that they are looking to add through the draft and only add veteran role players through free agency, however this is just like your friend who says they’re done with the whole dating scene and want to be single the day before they meet the love of their life. Here are some free agents this writer believe’s the Bill should target: OC Alex Mack, QB Chad Henne, the pipe dream TE Jimmy Graham, a close second OLB Brian Orakpo, DE Jared Allen, DE and Syracuse product Arthur Jones, OLB/ILB Brandon Spikes, CB Captian Munnerlyn, CB Charles Tillman, and last but not least SS Bernard “Patriot Killer” Pollard.
Now let’s break this down by level of signing, we’ll start with the top priority, but not probably going to happen but fingers crossed contracts: Jimmy Graham, if you think the Saints are letting Jimmy Graham go anywhere other then staying in the greater New Orleans area then I have a submarine with some screen doors to sell you. However lets just say that something like faxgate happens and he somehow hits the free agency market, he will command a top price to land and will have every team pursuing him in the NFL. Rightfully so, he is one of the top two TE’s in the league right now and is a threat to go for six any time he steps on the field. Graham would instantly be an upgrade at the TE position and would become the number one offensive threat in the greater Metropolitan Buffalo area. Jimmy is able to play two positions at TE and WR and would help EJ out immediately in the pass game. He would also add a wrinkle into the offense that was not seen last year, with the ability to run TE screens and deep jump balls. Let’s put it this way, if the Bills were able to secure his signature they would in fact begin to really shift the power in the AFC East.
Brian Orakpo, this is a very intriguing because; A) the Bills should’ve drafted him when he first came into the league. B) if not resigned by the Redskins, then he will most likely garner the same amount of attention as Graham. C) Orakpo would be a terror if put into Mike Pettines System. Orakpo was passed over by the Buffalo Bills for a player that is still lamented in Buffalo, Aaron Maybin. However, those dark days are behind us and as we move further and further towards success, perhaps bringing Orakpo to where he should’ve landed in the first place, will bring success to both parties. He will command a top contract but that is nothing compared to the possible success he may have in western NY. Just for a moment imagine a defensive line of Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Jerry Hughes and Brian Orakpo, I can hear Brady shaking in his Uggs already. That defensive line along with the support of the likes of Kiko Alonso, Jarius Byrd, Aaron Williams, Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore in pass coverage would make the Bills one of the deadliest young defenses in the NFL. Orakpo has proven to be a dynamic pass rusher who ability to get to the Quarterback with the best of them and he would immediately pay dividends by terrorizing opposing defenses. It would be wise for the Buffalo Bills to front load his contract because towards the end their are many important signings of other young players that need to be made. Alex Mack, Mack has established himself as one of the top centers in the NFL in both facets of the game. The signing of Mack would allow the Bills to move Eric Wood to Guard where he played in previous seasons. This would sure up the Bills offseason for the next five years and would considerably help a run game that at times struggled this year. Mack would anchor a young offensive line and allow the Bills to focus in other areas of the Offense that need more work. Why this signing is probably not going to is that the Mack wants to stay with the Browns and would allow the Browns to match or counter any offer made by teams.
The next category probably won’t be targeted, but it’d be fun if they were: Bernard “Patriot Killer” Pollard, what can be said for SS Bernard Pollard that he hasn’t already said with his pads into unsuspecting offensive players. He is an old school, hard hitting safety who has a knack for taking out players of our most hated rival (see Stevan Ridley 2013 AFC championship game). Also, when it comes time to intercept or make a play on the ball, Pollard is extremely skilled at that as well. He is a sure tackler that is great at stepping up on the run and holding running backs to little or no gain. Also, when it comes to the blitz, Pollard is a terror, he comes in like a recking ball and leaves a path of destruction in his wake. This is a player I thought the Bills should’ve signed last offseason and if the Byrd negotiation goes south, this could be a integral part of the secondary. Charles “Peanut” Tillman, this ball hawking corner affectionally known as peanut because of his stature is someone who would excel in the Man 2 Man coverage schemes of Pettine’s defense. Tillman is also very skilled at creating turnovers at his point of attack. Leading the league in FF last year did help put him into the spot light, but he had been consistently doing that for most of his career. Along with being skilled in coverage he also is a DB who is very strong in stopping the run, which is an area the Bills desperately need help. Along with all these skills he is also well versed in pressuring the QB which is a cornerstone in this defensive scheme. Tillman would add depth, turnover capabilities, and a veteran presence at CB that the Bills are currently lacking and could use some tutoring in. Jared Allen, although he is getting up in age he is still an elite pass rusher who never really has had another elite pass rushing talent next to him in his career, however that would all change if he were to sign with the Bills. In fact, he would just be one of many great pass rushers, and might actually just be used in those situations. If the Bill’s were to sign Allen it would have to be for the right price. However what he brings to the table is very much worth it, he brings pass rushing skills that are bar none in the NFL. Allen’s age is a bit concerning but that’s what short term contracts were made for. If Allen was added to our defense then he would finally be able to get single blocks and rush the QB freely.
The Next Category is: both possible and probable: Chad Henne, as proven by the game Buffalo played this year against Jacksonville and by Jacksonville’s end of the season, Henne’s a guy who can come in and win you a couple games while your starters injured. Henne’s sneakily mobile with a strong arm and decent command of the ball. Again just to reiterate the point, Henne is a back up, not a starter, that is what I want to make abundantly clear. However as a back up he is a much better option then Kevin Kolb who has proven not to be able to stand up to the NFL game with his constant injuries. Also Henne knows how to play in cold weather because during his college days he played at Michigan University which is very similar to Western NY in weather and temperature. Brandon Spikes, Spikes is a hard nosed run stoping line backer who could seriously help the Bills in the run defense. He also is a bit of a dirty player who has an edge to him which the Bills are currently lacking. His ability in run stopping makes him a prime candidate for the Bills to sign this offseason and the fact that he knows all of our most loathed advisories signs, calls, and plays is just the cherry on top of the gravel and bed rock sundae. His ability in the run would immediately make him a candidate to tutor/sub in for Rookie Kiko Alonso, seeing as how Spikes bulldozer like mentality in run coverage but confused old man(cough Chan Gailey cough) like ability in pass coverage allow them to become different sides of the ILB coin in the BIlls offense. By adding Spikes the Bills would secure a pure run stuffer who would be a instant help in an area that is on the lacking on the Bills. Arthur Jones- the Southern Tier/Syracuse product who was touted as the best pass rushing DT in his class could immediately step in and fill/compete for the position currently held by Alan Branch and Alex Carrington. Jones’s mix of power and speed is deadly on the line and he has really come to his own as of late. In fact he has played so well that he classed himself out of the range that the Ravens were going to be able to pay him. He fits extremely well in the system in Buffalo because its very similar to the system that he ran in Baltimore. The signing of Jones would combine the two skills of the current spots held by Carrington and Branch. This would allow buffalo to create quite a rotation of skilled players on the defensive line. Captain Munnerlyn, is by no means a household name, however he is coming off the most productive year of his career on one of the most productive defenses in the league. Although he is a bit under sized, he is also entering his prime which bodes well for whichever team picks him up. Although the Bills have two very good CB’s, this year especially proved that CB depth is always a good thing and that you can never have enough talented depth on the outside. Although this is not the flashiest signing, Captian represents important depth that can help a team make it into the playoffs.
May 8th Radio City Music Hall- Welcome to the first round of the NFL Draft one of the best times in the NFL offseason calendar, it’s when childhood dreams are made and shattered. There are two scenario’s I’d like to discuss here one with a Re-signed Jarius Byrd(A) and one with a franchise tagged Jarius Byrd (B).
The vikings select Derek Carr QB Fresno St the Buffalo Bills are now on the clock…
Ok we’ll start with scenario (A) I think the Bills should see who’s available if any of the top prospects like Clowney or Matthews available then we to draft them. However if these tops prospects are gone then we should listen to any offers coming our way and maybe send a couple offers out. Here are two I’d like to see:
Rams get 9th overall selection
Bills get 13th selection
and a second trade is afoot
Browns get 13th overall selection
Bills get 26th overall pick
35th overall selection
67th overall pick
163rd overall pick
With these trades the Bills deepened their day two selections
With the 26th overall pick the Buffalo Bills select Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE Washington University
The trades we made secured us two more picks in the second round and 6th rounds another in the 3rd. Here is the official mock draft for the Buffalo Bills in scenario (A)
Round 1 Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE
Round 2 Taylor Lewan OT, Cyril Richardson OG, Trent Murphy OLB
Round 3 Brandon Coleman WR, Andre Williams RB
Round 4 Bryan Stork C
Round 5 L’Damian Washington WR
Round 6 Jeremy Gallon WR, Ryan Groy OG, Chad Abram FB
Round 7 Kirby Van Der Kamp P
UDFA: Colt Lyeria TE, Shaquelle Evans WR, Munchie Legaux OW, Jordan Lynch OW, Kyle Ellesworth ILB, and many others
Scenario (B) this one is in the world where we haven’t been able secure the long term services of Byrd and franchise tag him.
I am about to drop a bombshell of a trade,
Buffalo Gets Dallas’s first, second, and fourth picks and Dez Bryant
Dallas gets Bills first, fifth, and Jarius Byrd.
Boom goes the Dynamite Bills get an all pro big tall WR and the Cowboys get an all pro safety who can sure up there secondary. A second trade comes with the Cleveland Browns
Browns get: 17th overall pick next years 5th round selection
Bills get: 26th overal pick 38th pick and Cleveland,s 3rd rounder
1st round Eric Ebron
2nd round Taylor Lewan OT, Lemarcus Joyner CB/S, Michael Sam DE/OLB
3rd round Gabe Jackson OG, Dion Bailey S
4th round Chris Davis DB/KR/PR, Jeremy Hill RB
5th round no selections
6th round Jeremy Gallon WR
7th round Steven Clark P
UDFA: Chad Abram FB see scenario (A)
If either of these draft scenarios were to play out the Bills would fortunate because of the extreme depth of talent in this draft.
Fast Forward to the beginning of next year here is my projected starting lineup
Scenario (A) starting line up Bold denotes Starter
QB: EJ Manuel, Chad Henne, Thad Lewis
RB: CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson, Andre Ellington
FB: Chad Abram
WR: Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, Brandon Coleman, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Gallon, L’Damian Washington
TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Scott Chandler, Colt Lyeria
OT: Cordy Glenn, Taylor Lewan, Eric Pears, Thomas Welch
OG: Cyril Richardson, Kriag Urbik, Ryan Groy, JJ Unga
OC: Eric Wood, Bryan Stork
K: Dustin Hopkins
P: Kirby Van Der Kamp
LS: Garrison Sanborn
DT: Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus,Art Jones, Alan Branch,Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles
DE/OLB: Mario Williams,Brian Orakpo, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Arthur Moats, Trent Murphy
ILB: Kiko Alonso, Brandon Spikes, Kyle Ellesworth
DB: Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Nickell Robey, Captain Munnerlyn,Jarius Byrd, Aaron Williams, Bernard Pollard, Jim Leonhard, Da’Norris Searcy.
Scenario (B) starting lineup
QB: EJ Manuel, Chad Henne, Thad Lewis
RB: CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson, Jeremy Hill
FB: Frank Summers
WR: Dez Bryant, Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Gallon, Marcus Easley
TE: Eric Ebron, Scott Chandler, Chris Gragg,
OT: Cordy Glenn, Taylor Lewan, Eric Pears, Thomas Welch
OG: Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik, Gabe Jackson, JJ Unga
OC: Alex Mack, Eric Wood
K: Dan Carpenter
P: Steven Clark
LS: Garrison Sanborn
DT: Kyle WIlliams, Marcell Dareus, Art Jones, Alan Branch, Alex Carrington, Stefan Charles
DE/OLB: Mario Williams, Brian Orakpo, Jerry Hughes, Michael Sam, Manny Lawson, Nigel Bradham
ILB: Kiko Alonso, Brandon Spikes, Arthur Moats, Kyles Ellesworth
DB: Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Aaron Williams, Bernard Pollard,Charles Tillman, Nickell Robey, Lemarcus Joyner, Dion Bailey, Chris Davis
That will bring us to the start of the 2014 season a season in which either scenario would allow us to make a push for the playoffs in the upcoming season, and remember, always have your pets spayed or neutered. But most importantly, GO BILLS!