Buffalo Bills: Brandon Beane quick to address his mistakes

(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

Despite executing multiple head-scratching moves over the past 18 months, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has shown an encouraging propensity to address his mistakes in a prompt manner.

One of the more toxic situations one can endure is engaging in a relationship that is just not right and has exceeded its shelf life. A growing sense of angst and frustration exists between both parties, yet they continue to “keep on, keeping on” despite the growing evidence of a lackluster future.

Fortunately for Buffalo Bills fans, general manager Brandon Beane has proven to be a man of action instead of choosing to stew in mediocrity.

Rather than focusing on his ability to clean up the mistakes of his predecessors – with the likes of Marcell Dareus, Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby being unceremoniously punted upon Beane’s arrival – the acknowledgement of making a mistake on his own and quickly pivoting to make things better is the real narrative to be discussed.

Bye-Bye Benji

Truth be told, the 41-year-old decision maker surely has not been void of questionable trades and signings over the last year and a half. Beane’s most infamous blunder was recently eradicated when he decided to cut ties with the colossal bust known as Kelvin Benjamin.

After the Bills enjoyed a pleasantly surprising 4-2 start to the 2017-18 season, Beane and his brain trust decided to ship off a third and seventh-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for Benjamin.

On paper, the move would help augment a less than desirable receiving corps consisting of Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones, Deonte Thompson and Andre Holmes. In addition, Beane and head coach Sean McDermott had existing relationships with the hulking receiver during their days in Carolina.

What could go wrong? Well, just about everything.

Benjamin’s once highly sought after prototypical wide receiver frame morphed into that of an unathletic tight end seemingly overnight. His poor work ethic extended to his on-field production, as the 27-year-old routinely looked uninspired, lacked any semblance of separation from opposing defensive backs and developed a case of butter finger-itis.

In 18 total games with the Bills, Benjamin totaled a meager 39 receptions for 571 yards and two touchdowns. What is perhaps most disconcerting is that this was done in the final team-option year of his contract. The persistently disappointing receiver is now on waivers and can be claimed by any NFL team for the pretty sum of the remaining $2 million on his contract. I would not hold my breath if I was Benjamin.

The encouraging part of all of this is that Beane did not allow Benjamin’s poor attitude and play on the field to potentially further permeate into the locker room and affect the team’s existing set of promising young wide-outs. A lesson was clearly learned here.

A pair of problematic pass-catchers

Much like Benjamin, co-pass catcher Terrelle Pryor failed to make an impact during his brief tenure with the Bills. Signed on October 30 after an unsuccessful run with the Washington Redskins, the talented, yet polarizing receiver should have entered One Bills Drive with a chip on his shoulder. Instead, he looked like a dinosaur in a league that has been recently conquered by cheetahs at the wide receiver position.

Rather than the seizing the opportunity to grow with Buffalo’s young core of players, Pryor’s disposition exuded prima donna rather than team player. Two games and two catches for 17 yards later, and Pryor is now a free-agent after being released by the Bills on Nov. 13. Affirmative action on Beane’s part.

Remember the Corey Coleman era? It was just about as dubious as the foul cup of coffee that Anquan Boldin and Vontae Davis had in Western New York. Conveniently, the latter two mistakes were corrected on their own, whereas Coleman was a mistake that was handled by Beane a mere three weeks after the Bills dished out a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns for his services.

If rumors are true, Coleman was not exactly a proponent of studying the playbook during his brief stint with the Bills. He likely believed that his roster spot was a certainty given his appetizing skill-set and potential to vault up the depth chart.

Rather than giving the Coleman experiment some time to materialize, Beane was humble enough to pull the plug and admit defeat. The immediate loss sustained (i.e. the seventh-round pick) was not worth the headaches that would inevitably surface with Coleman on the roster.

Offseason scrubs

Fact: Former Bills general manager Doug Whaley left Beane a dog’s breakfast of a salary cap situation to manage. Fortunately for Bills fans, their current GM has been able to creatively field a competitive team all while being on the precipice of leaving salary cap jail as soon as this upcoming offseason.

Handcuffed with limited wiggle room this past offseason, Beane could not go on the big-ticket free-agent spending spree that all fans yearn for. As a result, he was forced to dig into the netherworld of free-agent scrubbery to fill holes that existed on the team’s roster. Two such examples were the signings of offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse and cornerback Phillip Gaines.

Having personally watched both players a fair bit over the past few seasons struggle mightily when thrust into action, I was a staunch opponent to both signings. So much so that I called for them to be cut before the regular season even commenced. Unfortunately, both did see game action this season and were naturally abysmal.

In one of Beane’s greatest achievements to date as Bills general manager, he was somehow able to pry away a conditional draft pick from the Panthers in exchange for Newhouse. Suffice it so say, I was elated upon hearing this news:

As for Gaines, he was routinely mocked by Kansas City Chiefs fans for his tendency to commit pass interference calls and allow receivers to blow by him, and this year was no different. The clear mistake was to choose Gaines over the likes of promising youngsters Levi Wallace and Ryan Lewis. Beane subsequently realized his mistake and addressed it by promptly releasing Gaines on Nov. 6.

Next. Breaking down the phases of Josh Allen’s play in 2018. dark

Every general manager is prone to mistakes, some definitely more than others. Beane should be commended for the limited number of mistakes he has made to date and, more importantly, how he has been able to bounce back from them with limited damage incurred.