The Cost of Free Agents

Michael Vick has almost been a Bill for years. That’s at least according to jumpy free agency junkies whenever Buffalo has a questionable quarterback situation at the same time he’s part of an abandoned litter. It’s not the only time or position. Fans often reflexively want every prominent available player to relocate to Erie County, but there are better ways to control the ball than throwing money at free agents. Excitement in March might not be sustained until September.

 (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The Bills should not pursue Michael Vick. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Some trackers of freelance players are effectively rooting against the Bills giving EJ Manuel a fair shot. Adding too conspicuous a free agent at the same position can cause Kelly Holcomb Syndrome, which occurs when a veteran backup’s presence heightens tension during the promising youngster’s inadvertent struggles. Every turnover will spur cries to switch to the semi-decent second-stringer. There’s enough drama without manufacturing it. Bringing back a former starter to not start would be asking for a soap opera.

Take the aforementioned perpetually trending scrambler. Vick’s an excessively known commodity who can’t stay healthy. Sure, the semi-quarterback has revolutionized the game if Madden counts, but the strongest case against him remains that he’s Michael Vick. Mister Mexico shouldn’t be able to outrun his legacy anymore than he can a hungry dog while he has jerky in his pockets. He’s still the person who was inhumane even if he served his time. His purported rehabilitation doesn’t mean the Bills are the ones who must offer him the honor of yet another chance.

The front office should focus on protecting the quarterback they have. Better blocking will do more for the quarterback situation than creating tension by adding a notorious signal-caller. Any improvement at left guard will be easy. Similarly, an addition such as Corey Graham provides more options at cornerback even if he starts on the sidelines.

Some want a big splash when they should be pleased that the Bills know when to wade. They’ve added depth that will at least make more players earn starts. The right attitude from their new dudes about the new environment they chose is always a plus.

Time will tell which teams added players who are good versus ones who were good. A prominent athlete’s name can go a long way even if his best days have passed. For example, you can tell people you fought Mike Tyson without also revealing you did so in 2005. Paying a fading free agent because of his reputation is like thinking now is the time to invest in bitcoins. Many desperate franchises are giving huge payouts to big names filling smaller roles.

Winning in football starts with an intramural event. The best teams develop their own talent instead of hoping to poach stars from elsewhere who may have peaked or benefitted from a previous system. Blu-ray discs won’t work in your DVD player, and saving your receipt is pointless.

Those you’ve groomed must like being around. As disappointing as it is to see Jairus Byrd migrate, it’s fruitless to try keeping someone who’s decided he wants to leave. It’s better to start a new relationship no matter how well-matched the dumped party thought the couple were.

A turbulent transition might only be a preview of a bumpy landing. Mismatched, fading players who devour the salary cap aren’t as fun to watch as it sounds. Progress through methodical competency may happen so gradually that you don’t even notice until the postseason banishment ends.

It’s natural for fans to want to ink every big name, especially after your biggest name gets added to New Orleans’s marquee. And it can be hard to tell if the Bills are being frugal or just cheap, but excitement over past accomplishments doesn’t always help in the future. If anyone knows not to get too wound up too early, it’s us.

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.