Free agents singing different tune about Bills

Photo of RB Chris Ivory from SI.com and Getty Images.

What a difference a year can make. After a couple of decades of being considered a “team of last resort”, the Buffalo Bills seem to be viewed in a completely different light these days by free agents looking for the best fit/compensation in the NFL.

Of course free agents ‘love the vibes’ of any team willing to pay handsomely for their services. However, the Bills are experiencing a renaissance of sorts in the eyes of players peddling their talents across the league.

How did this happen so fast?

Undoubtedly making the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades helped fuel the new-found attraction to Buffalo. I’m not suggesting Vontae Davis or Chris Ivory are the crown jewels of free agency this season, but it’s been awhile since players interviewed with multiple teams and chose the Bills because they’re “on the rise”.

It wasn’t long ago when players turned down invitations to interview in Buffalo because they considered it a waste of time. Occasionally a top-tier free agent would interview with the Bills as a means of jacking up the price tag to the team they truly desired to join.

By extinguishing a losing culture during their first season in Buffalo, Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane validated my incessant barking about locker room culture and other ‘intangibles’. They did not flinch in the face of criticism after jettisoning top talent who didn’t fit their prototype. I expect this trend to continue and fully support their effort.

Photo of GM Brandon Beane and HC Sean McDermott from buffalonews.com.

As we approach the opening of free agency on March 16, it’s anyone’s guess what ‘McBeane’ has up their sleeves. One of the most significant positive changes they made was to virtually shut down leaks coming out of the front office to the media.

With a couple of minor exceptions (Eric Wood’s “retirement” for example), the newly reconstructed front office with Derek Boyko running the show has performed to near perfection. Veteran free agents understand the importance of a functional front office and the Bills seem to have theirs running on all cylinders at the moment.

The most astounding evidence that things have changed at One Bills Drive is the tone of the comments coming from free agent players who already signed. Vontae Davis was effusive with praise for McDermott and Beane’s approach and vision for the future.

Chris Ivory likes the vibes of the new regime as well. Though Buffalo has signed higher-tiered free agents like Mario Williams in the past, it’s far more telling when players sign reasonably priced contracts before the free agency period officially opens.

I expect this free agency period to be similar to last year when signing Micah Hyde was the big splash of free agency for the Bills.

Photo of S Micah Hyde and Sean McDermott from NewYorkUpstate.com.

Look no further than Micah Hyde’s production last season as an example of getting more-for-less than the over-hyped, overpaid Mario Williams type of player. Though not flashy, this duo of ‘McBeane’ seem to have a real eyeball for the right kind of player to fit their scheme.

Who’d have thought the slow evolution of culture change would turn into a one-year revolution?

Time to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Editor’s babble: So this is what competence in the front office and on the field feels like. Nice feeling going into free agency. If you’re so inclined (or masochistic) you can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.

About Robyn Mundy

Robyn Mundy is Editor-in-Chief of the BillsMafia blog at BillsMafia.com. She's a retired oncology nurse & psychotherapist who loves to write about her life-long passion for the Buffalo Bills, and occasionally something of clinical or social relevance. Robyn lives with her husband Gary and their dogs in the foothills of the glorious Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Robyn is also a proud founding sponsor. Follow her on Twitter at @robynmundyWYO.

12 Replies to “Free agents singing different tune about Bills”

  1. Hopefully, they will continue to prove their worth during the free agent period. I believe that their “big” free agent signings will only be in the $ 3-5 M range, not spending big. This week should be interesting.

    They definitely are well positioned for the draft, but supposedly this draft is not deep for offensive lineman to protect the hopeful heir to the QB throne in Buffalo.

    • I hope the Bills are able to somehow upgrade the right side of the O-line, whether that be in FA or the draft. If Tyrod wasn’t as mobile as he is, he would have been sacked about ten times a game or more.

  2. I don’t know that Ivory’s signing is the best example. The Bills overpaid Ivory and the competition seemed to be the Browns. That’s one move I wasn’t too enthused about that the Bills made. I don’t have a problem with him coming in and competing for a role…but I don’t like that they paid him enough guaranteed salary that he’s clearly in the plan and a deterrent toward making anything but minor roster filling moves at the position. He’s old and hasn’t been very productive the last couple years so I don’t think he deserves that kind of respect. He’s appears to be a minor upgrade to Tolbert.

  3. More about QB options…I hope they don’t do anything major to try and bring in Teddy Bridgewater as THE answer. I think he was overrated before the injury and who knows how he’ll come back? He put up pretty Tyrod-like numbers passing, without the running production. 200 yards and a TD per game…meh. Why he’d be thought as any major prospect, I don’t know. I was thinking he was mediocre before, but heard his stats this morning to confirm it. Bring him in as a vet option? Sure. Bring him in as your answer at QB? Pass!

  4. Sounds like the Bills are trading Glenn to the Bengals…one of the Bills firsts and Glenn to move up to 12. It’s getting interesting!

  5. @JaySkurski
    10s10 seconds ago
    More
    Complete terms, via a league source: #Bills trade Cordy Glenn, picks No. 21 (first round) and No. 158 (fifth round) for picks No. 12 (first round) and No. 187 (sixth round).

    The Bills now have picks 12 and 22 in the first round. That just made it a whole lot easier to move up to trade into the Top 5 for a QB. Well done McBeane!

  6. I’m really, really trying my best to temper my excitement. How high can they move up and if somebody leap frogs them who might be their second choice at QB?

  7. Good morning…

    The Bills move another high priced often injured vet Glenn in the package deal to move up to 12… They are slowly creeping their way into the top 10… Kudos’ to Beanie and McD as they are following their plan to get a young franchise QB.. It is only going to get more interesting from here….

  8. As of right now, the Bills have nearly $100M in cap space for 2019. If the Bills are able to draft their franchise QB this season, along with all the cap space they’ll have next year, McBeane could potentially build a great team around that QB, especially during his rookie contract. I don’t want to get drunk off the kool-aid just yet as we’ve seen numerous GM’s between the Bills and Sabres screw things up, but if McBeane plays their cards right, we could see something special in Buffalo that we haven’t seen since the late 80’s/early 90’s. Plus, it would be great to give Brady a bunch of L’s before he retires. I still want to see the Bills sweep the Patriots in both divisional games during the year.

  9. They seem to be following the latest model that says to draft your franchise QB and surround them with higher priced players while the QB is on his rookie contract. You can see other teams have done this (Seattle, Ravens) with great defense, but have to dismantle when the rookie contract is done.

  10. Bills signed Carolina DT Star Lotulelei. From what I read, Lotulelei is very good at pushing the pocket, so QB’s won’t be able to step up in the pocket, they’ll have to go more to the edges. The Bills sucked at getting a push up the middle last season, so Lotulelei should be a big upgrade.