The Buffalo Bills entered the offseason with very little money to spend and though they did save money by re-working several veteran’s contracts, as well as releasing Mario Williams, the Bills really haven’t done much in the offseason.
ESPN is reporting that the Bills have spent among the least amount of guaranteed money in free agency thus far as the team has signed four players since free agency officially opened: TE Jim Dray, S Robert Blanton, WR Lance Hankerson, and OL Jordan Mills. While the number is a little skewed since the Bills were able to re-sign offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn prior to the start of free agency, the point is that Buffalo has only signed two free agents that weren’t on the team last year (Dray and Blanton). Hankerson and Mills re-signed earlier this week.
Buffalo has lost a handful of role players — in addition to Williams — this offseason including LB Nigel Bradham, WR Chris Hogan, and CB Leodis McKelvin. Bradham and Hogan are the biggest losses for the Bills as they have yet to fill those spots. Bradham, who was a starter the last two years and finished fourth in tackles this past season, left for Philadelphia, and Hogan, who bolted for Miami, hauled in 36 passes and was the team’s third receiver.
Buffalo will likely address its lack of depth at linebacker during the draft and likely will do likewise at wide receiver, although they do have options. Third-year pro Sammy Watkins, who led the Bills with 60 receptions, is the team’s No. 1 receiver, and fourth-year pro Robert Woods, who is coming off a career season, is entrenched as the No. 2 receiver.
Hankerson, Walter Powell, Jarrett Boykin, Marquise Goodwin, Greg Little, Marcus Easley, and Dezmin Lewis are the other receivers currently on the Bills roster that will battle for playing time during training camp, according to the Buffalo News. Hankerson is the most experienced of the bunch, compiling 107 receptions for 1,408 yards in five seasons. The 27-year-old spent time with Atlanta, New England, and Buffalo last year, hauling in 26 passes, including three touchdowns, all with the Falcons.
Boykin is intriguing as he had a good three-year run with Green Bay, but has not played in the NFL since 2014. The 26-year-old’s best season came in 2013 when he caught 49 balls for 681 yards and three touchdowns. The Virginia Tech product signed with Buffalo in January.
Little, like Hankerson and Boykin, has had success in the league but didn’t play or wasn’t much of a factor a season ago. The 26-year-old had a messy divorce with Cleveland and didn’t play last year. He does have 161 receptions, which includes three seasons of 40 or more catches.
Salas, Goodwin, Powell, Easley, and Lewis are all relatively young and inexperienced. Salas had 27 catches in six games back in 2011, and Easley is coming off a devastating injury, meaning that he may begin the season on the physically unable to perform list.
Another option for Buffalo could be to re-sign unrestricted free agent Percy Harvin, which the Buffalo News’ Tyler Dunne said the Bills have explored. Harvin played five games last year for the Bills before knee and hip injuries ended his season. The 27-year-old had 19 catches for 281 yards along with one touchdown last year. Harvin has been injury prone the past several seasons, missing 36 games over the past four years.
Harvin is expected to make a decision on whether he wants to play this season, general manager Doug Whaley told Syracuse.
“The last thing I heard, (Bills Vice President of football operations) Jim Overdorf talked to his agent and hopefully he’s going to make a decision in the next week or two of if he’s going to play, and if he’s going play, if he’s coming back to us. We’ll hopefully know in the next week or two.”
With Buffalo only having $6.9 million available in cap space, don’t expect them to make much of a splash the rest of the offseason, despite the fact there are still big name players on the open market. Rather, the Bills will try to add depth through the draft.
Buffalo has eight picks this year and is expected to use its top selection (19th overall) on the defensive side. However, several mock drafts have the Bills picking a wide receiver somewhere between the second and fifth round. ESPN’s Todd McShay has Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shephard heading to the Bills in round two, while WGRZ has Buffalo selecting Roger Lewis out of Bowling Green with the 139th overall pick. In a surprise, CBS Sports’ Dane Bugler has Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell heading to Buffalo in the first round.
[photo by Bill Wippert/Associated Press]