The first day of the NFL “legal tampering” period opened on Monday and was a busy one for the Bills. So far Center Mitch Morse, RB Frank Gore, DB Kevin Johnson, TE Tyler Kroft, D’haquille Williams (Duke) and Center/Guard Spencer Long all have their pens ready to ink their way to Buffalo.
While all the analytics experts can better explain how these players will physically fit into the ‘process’ and McBeane’s vision for the future – I will stay in my lane and focus on the intangible factors leading me to believe why this group of free agents just might put the Bills back in the playoffs. After all, this is the all-important third year of the McBeane administration.
Let me begin with the biggest dude and largest (current) contract dropped for a Center in the NFL.
Plucking Mitch Morse from Kansas City had to be A-1 priority for the Bills in free agency. The 6-foot-6, 305 pound center is exactly the kind of crazy guy who will not only keep Josh Allen upright (no sacks allowed since 2015 –gasp) but will keep the locker room laughing along the way. He will also be a strong leader along the offensive line, something the Bills sorely lacked in 2018.
But what I love most about this pick is the guy is a perfect fit for Buffalo on a team desperately seeking leadership on offense. With all due respect to the immensely talented Eric Wood, the Bills have lacked a strong personality at the center position since Kent Hull kept Jim Kelly upright and in line during the Super Bowl years.
If Morse wasn’t enough to bring some fire-power to the locker room on the offensive side of the ball, the Bills will also be signing venerable Hall-of-Fame bound running back Frank Gore to the roster.
I love this signing for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is how disappointed I was when Gore signed with the Dolphins. Gore has been one of my favorite running backs for years. He is a durable and powerful runner with an attitude. What the Bills lost in terms of leadership fire in the locker room Gore will bring in his own way.
Let’s face some realities about LeSean McCoy. Leadership is not his strong suit and he was less than ideal as a team captain last season. That will not be the case with Frank Gore.
He certainly didn’t waste any time dumping the teal and orange and hopping on the #BillsMafia bandwagon. While Twitterees made fun of Gore about being old enough to have a son recruited by UB, those who bothered to pay attention know Gore still has a lot of gas left in the tank.
A HOF resume, fire in his belly, a reasonable one-year contract and another strong locker room presence on offense? What’s not to love about this signing?
Twitterees also added some whining about the less-than-splashy expected signing of tight end Tyler Kroft from the Cincinnati Bengals. While Kroft may not be the second coming of Gronk, this is a solid signing for a group that currently only contains one member; Jason Croom.
Signing a guy like Kroft makes so much sense in a TE rich draft. Instead of paying top dollar for a free agent, you get one with solid experience and then draft a stud (or two) and maybe add a couple other UDFAs to compete for a roster spot at training camp.
If you’ve read my babble in the past, you know how much I whine about the Bills being deficient regarding TE talent for most of the entire existence of the franchise. I expect the Bills to be aggressive about changing that narrative in this draft. Bring us some Hockinson, Fant, or Gentry and you will hear me howl all the way from Wyoming.
Toss in some serious intrigue with DB Kevin Johnson. C/G Spencer Long and WR Duke Williams and this free agency period hits it out of the park in terms of intangibles.
Look at what Johnson, Long and Williams bring to the table. Each of these players has something to prove and were signed to that type of contract for a reason.
Johnson has to prove he can get past his injury history and return to the form that made him a first-round pick in the 2015 draft. Spencer Long has the fire burning to prove he’s more than a depth player. Duke Williams is on a mission to redeem himself after issues in his personal life led him to play in the Canadian Football League for two years.
Leadership and something to prove are the intangible themes of this year’s free agent class to date. I really like what I see in the blend of personalities McBeane are bringing together. Give Josh Allen some support, fill in the rest of the holes as best as they can with the upcoming draft and watch this team fly.
You read it here first. If the Bills pull off as good a draft as the thoughtful strategic plan for free agency, this team will return to the playoffs. McBeane are building a contender the right way with great attention toward the intangibles.
Y’all know I’m just dancing with the turkeys in my yard about all of this.
Editor’s babble: OT, WR, TE, OLB, EDGE, OG and the obligatory CB… fill these holes in the draft and with UDFAs the Bills will set the table for success. Viva Le Process! You can find my nauseating optimism on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.