The NFL “legal tampering” period for free agency began on Monday. As Bills fans eagerly awaited news of potential signings, things got off to a slow start. The first player that was reported to be joining the Bills was cornerback Kevin Johnson from the Houston Texans.
Johnson was a former first round pick with plenty of upside, but injuries slowed his career down. He was brought in on a team friendly contract with a chance to earn a starting cornerback role alongside Tre White or add quality depth if Levi Wallace wins the starting job.
As the afternoon ticked on, news was slow to come out due to the new leak-free regime at One Bills Drive. The next player that agreed to terms with the Bills was veteran running back, Frank Gore. Bringing in Gore was met with plenty of criticism and jokes, but the fact is Gore is still very productive and adds a trusted leadership presence to the locker room.
The Bills then agreed to terms with Tyler Kroft, tight end from the Cincinnati Bengals. Kroft brings a balanced skill set to a position the Bills desperately needed to upgrade. Kroft did miss most of 2018 due to injury, but showed plenty of promise as a receiving threat at tight end with 42 catches for 404 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Throughout the day on Monday, the Bills were linked to reports on being on of the teams rumored to land center Matt Paradis, along with the New York Jets. Out of nowhere, the report came that the Bills agreed to terms with another highly coveted center, Mitch Morse, which rounded out the day one “signings”. Morse brings that veteran presence at center that Josh Allen needs and can be penciled in as a week one starter that the offensive line desperately needs.
Tuesday the Bills went right back to work and agreed to terms with two wide receivers to help Josh Allen. In near back to back announcements, the Bills brought in John Brown and Cole Beasley. These two receivers bring two different skill sets to the offense. John Brown is a speedy deep threat and Cole Beasley brings that quick slot receiver who has a knack for getting open.
The Bills didn’t stop there as they agreed to terms with two more offensive lineman, Jon Feliciano (guard from the Oakland Raiders) and Ty Nsekhe (tackle from the Washington Redskins) both who have starting potential and can add quality depth with the ability to play multiple positions along the offensive line.
On Wednesday the Bills added talented return man, Andre Roberts from the New York Jets. The Bills played musical chairs last season on punt and kick returns, so bringing in Andre Roberts could solidify the role on returns, which was part of the problem on special teams last season.
There may not have been any “big splash” signings but the Bills stuck to their plan and added quality solid players on contracts they can live with. The contracts were front loaded for the most part so the future cap flexibility remains in place. These signings also upgraded key roster needs with players who can compete for starting roles and add quality depth.
The Bills may have “missed out” on “big names” but we have seen many times in the past that those types of signings don’t live up to the hype and leave teams stuck with bad contracts. These free agency moves also give the Bills flexibility in the draft to add talent they see fit for the future.
The last week or so have featured the Bills and the city of Buffalo in a series of jokes on social media from people who don’t know much about either. The truth is the Bills have a stable front office in place that has a sound plan in place and a coaching staff that seems to get the most out of the roster. A lot still rests on the strong arm of Josh Allen, if he is able to reach his potential, the jokers will go silent and the stigma around the Bills will finally change from mediocre to contender.
Editor’s babble: Filling in holes with cap-friendly free agents will allow the Bills to draft the best player available, something Brandon Beane stressed that he will always do. Thanks to Erik Smeal for his contributions to our blog. You can find Erik on Twitter @Buffwagon819.