The Buffalo Bills have flown somewhat under the radar so far this off season, not really focusing in on the “high dollar” free agents when the free agency period opened up. It’s hard to really determine whether if any of the players they decided to sign will contribute on their side of football each down, but Buffalo will soon find out when the off season begins. The franchise is in the state of mourning after long time owner and founder, Ralph Wilson, passed away earlier today; while cancer has turned its ugly head back towards Hall of Fame Bills quarterback, Jim Kelly. A positive leap in the right direction by head coach, Doug Marrone, and company could mean the world to a heart-wrenched Buffalo community.
The free agent pick up that has made the most sense for Buffalo, is the signing of Brandon Spikes; snagging him from division rival, the New England Patriots. At the age of 26, Brandon Spikes still has room to grow as a pass defender, but has proven in his four years of NFL experience, that he can definitely plug the gaps in run defense for the Bills. Another position they may fill with a new addition is safety, with Corey Graham. After losing Jairus Byrd in free agency to the New Orleans Saints, they will need to find a quick solution to the free safety position. Even though Corey Graham has played corner his whole career, rumor has it that the Bills may look to switch him to Byrd’s old position at free safety. Graham is coming off probably the best year of his career, setting career highs in interceptions (4) and pass deflections (12) for the Baltimore Ravens. Both Spikes and Graham are projected to be big contributors in Jim Schwartz’s new defensive scheme in 2014.
A Few moves that do not really add up are the signings of linebacker Keith Rivers, and offensive guard Chris Williams. Both players were drafted in the first round in 2008, and each player has failed to live up to their first round expectations. Since both Rivers and Williams were drafted in 2008, they both will make the Bills their third team within the last six years. Rivers failed to provide that dynamic punch when the Cincinnati Bengals drafted him, only playing sparingly with the New York Giants his last two years. Chris Williams was supposed to be the next franchise left tackle for the Chicago Bears when drafted in 2008. After spending his last five years bouncing back and fourth between guard and tackle, the Bills threw five million dollars of guaranteed money at him, and expect Williams to become an anchor to their line at guard even though he hasn’t been very reliable to date. Some of the questions being tossed around are some like, why hasn’t Buffalo signed a veteran quarterback to back up potential franchise quarterback, EJ Manuel? Or what is the progress on potentially signing free agency wide receiver, Kenny Britt? The troubled wide receiver made a visit last week to Buffalo and not too many other reports have been made since.
The Buffalo Bills still have plenty of work to be done, and with much time to spare. The draft is still over a month away, and there are still a decent amount of formidable players available on the market. With talent pool deep in the draft, don’t be surprised to see the Buffalo Bills become silent in the market and turn their focus on the remaining pro days for college players. Building through the draft is the most proven path to success, and that is where the Bills plan on making their off-season splash.
This article is one in a series, published daily, which provides analysis, insight, and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman