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Bills free-agent priority list: Which players are most important to re-sign?


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Interesting to see "Money Mitch" mentioned as a possibility if he is a cap casualty of the Steelers.  I read how close the current QB room is, but have no idea if Mitchell may have fit in similarly last season.  Based only on the small amount of preseason play we saw from Keenum, I might feel more comfortable with Money Mitch if he becomes available, but Joe Buscaglia's write up reminds me of posts on here and does not seem to consider whether Trubisky still has aspirations as a starter.  Either way, I'm grateful to Joe for being on point enough to be aware of the possibility.

Other places Joe really seems like a poster on here, fantasizing about vet minimums.  At least he did not do so with Cole Beasley, which in my first appearance in a long time I noticed was being promoted on Billszone, which I guess does seem to be as hateful a board as some here have suggested.  I had no idea they were that hateful, illogical, and unrealistic, though.  Even worse(IMO), it's promoted by staff members.   Ukraine aside, that is a stark contrast to this board and something we could all be grateful for.

Also worth noting, Joe seems to be operating from the negative 20 million cap perspective rather than the restructures where GMBB could easily free up a huge sum of cap space(on 2 alone) if he chose to.  I guess if we are to go by assumptions, as a writer that might be the more principled choice, although maybe not the more likely one....and considering more than one would throw off his entire article.  I'm trying to display some empathy here, Range members.

Andy did you hear about this one?-REM . "I don't think I'm easy to talk about. I've got a very irregular head. And I'm not anything that you think I am anyway". -Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd. Rolling Stone, December 1971.  https://nativeamericanchurches.org/ My Adopt A Bill is Stefon Diggs  My 2nd Adopt A Bill is Christian Wade(he gets an exemption and doesn't require a spot) :)    Being staff seemed unable to train an elite legend how to run, Cole Beasley is my backup.   (I doubt that explanation is wanted).

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If there is one thing the Bills and general manager Brandon Beane made a point to note, it’s that some difficult decisions could be on the way in Orchard Park.

With a combined 24 free agents and a projected $20 million over the cap, the Bills will not be free to bring everyone back from the 2022 roster.

Last week, we outlined the top 10 Bills unrestricted free agents heading into the offseason. So of all their upcoming decisions, which players should be the focus for the Bills to maximize their 53-man roster?

Here is a look at who I believe should be on the team’s priority list, which is also plausible considering the team’s cap concerns this offseason.

LB Tremaine Edmunds

A lot depends on his cost on the open market, but Edmunds is an impact starter playing a vital position within the Bills’ scheme without a replacement lined up if he were to leave. The linebacker took a massive step forward in 2022 and delivered on a lot of his potential. He cemented himself as one of the most important defenders on the roster, a step everyone in the building believed was possible. Now turning 25 in May, Edmunds will be in his career’s prime for the next five years at least, which is as worthwhile an investment in a substantial contract extension as the Bills will come across.

His pairing with Matt Milano is another important piece of the puzzle, as the team struggled when one of the two were not on the field. As the safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer near the end of their collective careers and with expiring contracts on the way, the Bills could shift the higher allocation of cap space from safety into their linebacking duo as the new leaders of the defense. And conversely, it would allow the Bills to flip the two spots by investing draft capital at safety to take advantage of those rookie deals while the team pays Edmunds and Milano. But in another sneaky aspect to signing Edmunds, Milano is also a free agent after the 2024 season, which could give the Bills more reason to invest heavily into Edmunds as the key to their defense for the long term. Regardless of what happens with Milano, who turns 31 in 2025, the Bills will still have Edmunds. It will likely be a pricey endeavor, but the team should be able to get in the door with a cap hit of somewhere between $8-12 million in the first season and figure it out from there as more money gets added to the cap in 2024 and beyond.

DT Jordan Phillips

Past one or two more significant moves like Edmunds and an external free agent, the Bills likely will have to go bargain shopping to fill out the rest of their roster. That could start with Phillips, who needs offseason surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. The 2022 season was a bit inconsistent for Phillips because of all his injuries, and that can help lower his value on the open market. His injury history in Arizona could also contribute to a lower cost. Phillips has raved about his experience in Buffalo, which would make it an ideal spot to do another one-year deal. It could be a veteran minimum deal with little added cost to their salary cap, bringing back a successful four-man defensive tackle rotation for 2023 in full.

CB Dane Jackson (RFA)

The Jackson situation is a three-pronged decision for the Bills. They must first decide whether or not to issue him a restricted free-agent tender, which would cost $2.63 million to the cap. It’s a bit of a rich price tag for a backup cornerback, and if it’s not doable in their minds, they would then need to see if they could get him signed to a lower multi-year contract before those restricted tenders are due. If they’re unable to reach an agreement or would rather go one year at a time, they could make Jackson an unrestricted free agent by not issuing a restricted tender. It would be a calculated risk because any team could sign him in March, but they likely would be able to get him back for a lower cost than the $2.63 million figure. He’s a solid depth piece they trust in the starting lineup if needed, which makes Jackson someone they should aim to bring back in some capacity.

QB Case Keenum

The team has made it clear through the last two seasons that an experienced veteran backup quarterback is a priority. Although Mitchell Trubisky and Keenum didn’t see much game action in their time in Buffalo, it was still a necessary component to the front office to have a capable contingency plan in the event Josh Allen sustained an injury. Keenum fit right in and is a strong candidate to return. With the 34-year-old Keenum up there in age, he could be a cost-effective option for the Bills to return for another season. But he could have some competition if Trubisky is cut by the Steelers in a cap-saving move, as Allen and the franchise raved about Trubisky. Either way, a veteran quarterback will need to be found for 2023.

IOL Ike Boettger

The Bills brought Boettger back last year on a cheap one-year deal as he rehabbed from a torn Achilles suffered late in the 2021 season. The offensive lineman eventually made his way back to the 53-man roster but was active only once due to an injury to center Mitch Morse. Boettger remained a healthy scratch the rest of the year through the playoffs, effectively being a redshirt season for the Bills one-time starting guard. The Bills consistently rave about Boettger’s fit within the locker room, and without much game tape to go by, they could be able to get him back for a low cost. With Rodger Saffold a free agent, Boettger could see an opportunity to fight for a starting job at guard and give himself a better chance at a big payday in 2024 on another one-year prove-it deal. Whether he’s a starter or depth, this is a mutually beneficial pairing between team and player.

ST/S Jaquan Johnson

It didn’t go according to plan for Johnson in his contract year, but even though he took a big step back as a potential starting safety, he was still an incredibly reliable special teams piece. The Bills could be losing three other core-four special teams pieces in Tyler MatakevichTaiwan Jones and Cam Lewis. Bringing back Johnson for a year on a low-cost contract is a good idea, especially because they need depth at safety. The team also needs to make another substantial move at safety, but Johnson would be an ideal fourth safety who provides that necessary special teams value.

Sam Martin

Martin walked in just ahead of the 2022 season and brought consistency the team lacked at punter for several years before. The Bills shouldn’t give Martin a huge contract, but a manageable one- or two-year deal should be considered. As long as the agreement would also allow flexibility to draft a late-round punter, the Bills should do what they can to bring Martin back as a better holdover than what Matt Haack was last summer.

Others worth considering if the price is right

Jordan Poyer – The history here is rich between the sides, but Poyer made it clear he’ll be heading to free agency in mid-March. The cost, age and injury concerns from the last year should make the Bills pause from doling out a huge contract to Poyer. But they should remain a parachute for Poyer at a fair cost if his free agency does not go as planned. He could also be a fallback option if Edmunds signs elsewhere.

DE Shaq Lawson – The team would love for one of A.J. Epenesa or Boogie Basham to grab a starting job until Von Miller is ready to return from his torn ACL rehab next season. However, the lack of trust in those two in the same role through 2022 should keep things open with Lawson. The price must be right, but Lawson loves Buffalo and the Bills could do a lot worse.

RB Devin Singletary – The Bills should let Singletary go to free agency, but if they decide to make Nyheim Hines a cap casualty and save almost $5 million, the door could remain open. If the Bills can get him for a low-cost one-year deal, a reunion wouldn’t be out of the question.

WR Cole Beasley or WR Jamison Crowder – They need a much more substantial addition at wide receiver than one of these two, but one can supply quality depth that Josh Allen trusts. Beasley would likely be the preferred option based on his history with Allen.

TE Tommy Sweeney – The Bills made Sweeney a healthy scratch more often than not, but they absolutely love him within the locker room. A one-year, veteran minimum contract to give Sweeney a chance to make the team seems realistic. And if they wanted to cut him, the Bills could always try to bring him back to the practice squad after the summer.

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

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Fans will criticize Brandon no matter what he does this off season.
And some fans will say the Cap is fake.  It ain't.   

Brandon Beane has one hand tied behind his back, and his shoe laces tied together when it comes to resigning players.

He sounds like he will do everything he can to bring Tremaine back.  He would also LIKE to bring Poyer back, but I don't think he can.

IOL Ike Boettger, P Sam Martin, Edge Shaq Lawson and DT Jordan Phillips should get contract offers.

A lot of changes on the lower half of the roster are coming.   Damn, I hope we draft well this year. 


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Phillips, Lawson, Boettger, Jackson, Martin and Johnson should all be offered cheap deals. They would all be smart to accept these deals because each has a better chance of making the Bills roster over some other random team because of their familiarity with the system and the staff as well as our cap issues. 

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