The Buffalo Bills have a lot of decisions to make this offseason as they look to build off last season, where they recorded their first winning record since 2004.
Buffalo (9-7) has 16 free agents with 12 unrestricted and four restricted. RB C.J. Spiller, DE Jerry Hughes, TE Lee Smith, LB Brandon Spikes, and SS Da’Norris Searcy are the Bills’ key unrestricted free agents. The first-day free agents can officially sign is March 10.
Buffalo will have over $30 million in cap space to attempt to retain key pieces, such as Hughes and Searcy, as well as lock up 2016 free agent Marcellus Dareus, according to Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton.
Spiller’s situation with the team is unclear. Spiller, who missed seven games due to a broken collarbone, had just 78 rushing attempts and averaged a career-worst 3.8 yards per carry. He also had no rushing touchdowns and recorded one receiving touchdown.The fifth-year former first round selection recently told Bills Insider Chris Brown that he wants to remain with the team.
“There’s a possibility that I could be in a Bills uniform.We never know how this situation is going to play out. The organization knows that I want to be there, so pretty much the ball is in their court. At the same time we’re going to weigh all our options and see what suits me best. The biggest thing is you want to go somewhere where you’re wanted. That’s the biggest thing. That’s pretty much how I’m approaching this thing. I’m looking forward to it.”
Buffalo will also look to spend their cap money and draft picks to upgrade the offensive line — a major weakness in 2014 — as well as the quarterback, tight end, and running back positions. The Bills don’t have a first-round pick in 2015, but Rex Ryan’s draft philosophy seems to be straight forward, find the best players.
“[Head coach Rex Ryan said] just bring us good players and it’s our job to coach them,” Bills’ Scouting Director Kelvin Fisher said during an interview on the John Murphy radio show.
Running back is one position that the Bills apparently will definitely address during the draft (April 30-May 2). With Spiller a free agent, 34-year-old Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon, and Bryce Brown are the only backs on the roster. Dixon and Brown have little experience as the main back.
General manager Doug Whaley told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’s Sal Maioran that he was impressed with the 2015 class of running backs.
“It’s deep, it’s one of those classes that we’re excited about. There’s some value in rounds 2-5 that you’re gonna get some guys who will make an impact in this league.”
A few of the running backs expected to be available in the second in third rounds include Boise State’s Jay Ajayi, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Minnesota’s David Cobb, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon, Miami’s Duke Williams, and Indiana’ Tevin Coleman.
The following is a montage 2015 mock drafts of the Bills selections.
Yahoo! Sports’ Eric Edholm (Post combine): No. 50 pick OG Laken Tomlinson (Duke).
WGR 550’s Joe Buscaglia (Mock draft #1): No. 50 Coleman, No. 81 TE Nick O’Leary (Florida State).
Syracuse.com’s Matthew Fairburn: No. 50 Ajayi, No. 81 Tomlinson, No. 129 DE Zack Hodges (Harvard) No. 147 TE Tyler Kroft (Rutgers) No. 178 S Durell Eskridge (Syracuse) and No. 209 QB Brandon Bridge (South Alabama).
(Photo by James Kempin/ Getty Images)