Before you start down the “fire McDermott” or “fire coordinator” path, don’t. I’m not in that camp. Though I do have my concerns with defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, I don’t think firing him is where we need to go, just yet. The Bills have come a long way from where we were during the 17-year playoff drought. Other areas of the roster can use an upgrade that would help get this team over the hump.
As we get closer to the start of free agency and the draft, we’ll start getting more into the options the Bills might have to fill some of these holes.
As it stands right now, there are too many question marks in the safety room. We don’t know if Jordan Poyer will return and it’s unknown if Damar Hamlin will be able to return as well. In a perfect world, both come back, and this almost becomes a strength. But with uncertainty, the team has to have a contingency plan, either via the draft or free agency, perhaps even both.
The team currently has Micah Hyde, Siran Neal, Hamlin, and Jared Mayden under contract. Dean Marlowe and Jaquan Johnson are free agents, along with of course Jordan Poyer. Marlowe was brought in late in the season due to injuries and Johnson was less than impressive in his first year as a starter at the beginning of the season.
According to Spotrac, Poyer’s estimated market value is a little over $11 million per year, and with other free agents on the roster, most notably Tremaine Edmunds, I don’t think the Bills resign Poyer unless he is willing to take that hometown discount.
2. Defensive Line
The Bills only have two defensive linemen who are free agents heading into this off-season, Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips. Do the Bills bring these two back or move on? I would like to see Phillips back, as he was playing very well until his shoulder injury.
Also, missing from the lineup against the Bengals was Daquan Jones, who played very well, and his absence was vastly underrated.
Von Miller will be back at some point in the 2023 season, and I think Gregory Rousseau will only get better, but this team needs more answers up front. Once Miller was lost, the Bills were very limited in their pass rush ability, as opposing teams were able to more easily gameplan against the likes of Rousseau and Ed Oliver.
Speaking of Oliver, at this point in his career, it’s been a relatively disappointing career. For where he was drafted, I expected far more from him. He will be entering the final year of his contract next season and will have to prove his worth. Alongside Miller and Jones, he’s far more formidable. Problem is, he needs players around him to take the attention, the way Miller was able to do early in the season.
1. Offensive Line
At the end of the day, I hope the Bills put a lot of focus, money, and resources into improving their offensive line. Similar to what both the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals have done the past two seasons. I like Dion Dawkins, Mitch Morse and I believe Spencer Brown can be a solid right tackle as he continues to develop. The two guard positions, currently manned by Ryan Bates and Roger Saffold, need to be upgraded.
When you look at PFF grades for these guys, only Dawkins was rated over 70 and this should be a concern. Morse was only rated at 61.4; however, was good enough to rank as the sixth-best in the league. Despite my confidence in Brown, PFF has him rated at 51.4, which is awful but take a look at Saffold and his 43.7 rating!
Something has to change along the offensive front for the Buffalo Bills. They must address this area of the team or Josh Allen will be under constant pressure next season. As I sit here writing this, I’m watching this Eagles team dominate the 49ers and a big reason for that is their line. You can look back at those late 80s and early 90’s Bills team and they had one of the best offensive lines in the league.
I’ve heard from a number of fans that are calling for the Bills to sign a big-name running back from free agency, like A.J. Dillon, or trade for Deandre Hopkins to improve the offense and give Allen more weapons. Just imagine what Allen and this offense could do, even with the current skill position players, with an improved offensive line. The Bills averaged nearly 400 yards of offense, second in the league, and were one of the top-scoring teams in the NFL. I shudder to think how unstoppable this offense would be with an improved line.