Jan 1, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a Buffalo Bills helmet at a press conference at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
This article was written by Jack Goods of BuffaLowDown.com.
Going into Free Agency, most don’t peg the Buffalo Bills as the team to watch out for. In the past they’ve really been left behind, or focused on signing lesser name players. However, last year that all changed. With bringing in guys like Mario Williams and Mark Anderson they went from a team that usually avoided Free Agency to a team that was spending near the top of the league. That doesn’t mean that the Bills will do the same this season, just that they likely won’t be afraid to at least dip their toe in.
When it comes to players the team doesn’t want to see go, it starts with Andy Levitre. After putting the franchise tag on Jairus Byrd last week Levitre seems to be the odd man out. With the offensive line finally looking solid, he isn’t a player the Bills should be wanting to part with. Him and Eric Wood have been the young faces of this line, and it would be best for the team if they are both still here. However, Levitre has said that the Bills have not contacted him yet and they could also run into cap issues as well.
Another bigger name currently heading to free agency is cornerback Leodis McKelvin (if you still want to call him a cornerback). McKelvin really developed into arguably the best returner in the NFL last season. Although he can’t really play much on the defense, he has become valuable in other ways. If the price doesn’t get too high, don’t be surprised if he returns to Buffalo as well.
As for free agents coming to Buffalo, there are two positions that really seem like the places to look. Wide receiver has become a serious weakness for this team, with little depth past Stevie Johnson. Although it may be difficult and pricey to land a guy like Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, or Greg Jennings, there are other guys like Danny Amendola or Brian Hartline who may get a bit more reasonable contracts.
Another question the Bills need to answer is at linebacker, now that Nick Barnett and Shawne Merriman are both off the roster. Even with yesterday’s re-signing of Bryan Scott, the unit is now incredibly young and its likely new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine would like to get a bit of experience. All signs point to Bart Scott, who was released from the New York Jets. He’s familiar with Pettine’s system, has lots of NFL experience, and won’t cause the Bills to break the bank.
When it comes down to it, the Bills don’t have an enormous amount of money to play with. If they can get Levitre signed and leave with no huge free agents its still a solid start to the off-season. While most of the holes will likely be addressed in the draft, it feels like this year’s free agency period may just be a chance to gain some depth.