Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley is trying to show that restraint and cost consciousness is the way to go in free agency. So far in free agency, Whaley has added three new players to reasonable deals that fall in the low to mid-tier salary category. Instead of making a splash and bringing in a big name, Whaley has preached patience and prudence.
This may seem like a weak philosophy with a team desperate to make the playoffs, but it’s also the strategy used by better teams in the league. Teams find value free agents that will help with depth, and if one strikes with a big season, the team wins that much more. If they flop, the team doesn’t lose much in cap flexibility and can part ways just as quickly.
Buffalo has spent the past couple of seasons identifying their own talent and filling in pieces with role players in free agency. The only major exception to this was Mario Williams, and while his production hasn’t matched his compensation he has had a lot of return on the investment. If a team can identify one major target that you know is going to bring the impact one needs, then you go out and sign them (Mario Williams). However, if you need multiple pieces then it’s best to pick and choose your spots and not sacrifice long term cap flexibility for hopeful wishing (See: Dallas Cowboys).
So far in this off-season, the new additions of Chris Williams, Keith Rivers and Buffalo native Corey Graham have continued the trend that was set from last year. The Bills are finding players that can play a specific role and provide depth at critical positions. This in turn will position the team during the draft to select the best available players.
Last year, the Miami Dolphins won free agency but failed to address their other deficiencies in the draft. This doomed the Fins and was a big reason the team missed the playoffs. Simply put, you don’t win the Super Bowl in March. This is the time of year where you add pieces you may not be able to address in the draft. Whaley is taking this approach and hopefully it will start paying off sooner rather than later for the Bills and their fans.