NFL Free Agents 2012: Under-the-Radar Free Agents for the Buffalo Bills
But that’s just mean.
We all know that the likelihood of Buffalo landing any of the league’s top talents in 2012 is fairly small, though it’s not impossible.
Nevertheless, NFL free agency is similar to shopping for cards: Sometimes it’s better to get something simple and fitting as opposed to flashy and over-the-top.
As talks of free agents and their potential landing spots continue to heat up, we fans continue to see the same big names. So I wanted to change things up and take a look at some under-the-radar free agents that might be good fits for the Buffalo Bills.
In the following article, I’m not suggesting that Bills will (or should) sign these players, nor am I implying that they are better fits than big-name free agents like Mario Williams, Cliff Avril, Vincent Jackson or Marques Colston, for instance.
I’m just saying that it wouldn’t hurt Buffalo to give these guys a look to help fill some holes.
After all, sometimes the best offseason moves a team can make are the ones that make the smallest splash.
Chaz Schilens, WR
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The wide receiver position has been a hot topic among Bills fans so far this offseason, and with so many big names available, it’s easy to understand why.
You may have read my article about potential wide receivers the Bills could target outside of Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and Marques Colston.
I focused on Pierre Garcon and Mario Manningham as possible second options if the Bills can’t lure any of those premier talents to Buffalo. Robert Meachem is another speedy wideout that Bills fans like since he is the most natural deep threat available.
But digging even deeper we find Chaz Schilens, a 6’4”, 225-pound receiver with a lot of talent but not a lot of production. Schilens is virtually the same size as V-Jax, though he isn’t quite as physical. He’s also been injury prone throughout his career and, to make matters worse, has typically been a slow healer.
Still, if the Bills are looking for a low-risk/high-reward receiver who can go up and make catches over smaller defensive backs, Schilens might be worth a look.
He’s flashed ability at times and still has above-average speed at the age of 26.
Mike McGlynn, C/G
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A young interior lineman who can play both guard positions as well as center, McGlynn is a big body at 6’4” and 315 pounds. Though he’s only 26 years old, McGlynn has started a lot of games in the NFL, most recently for the Cincinnati Bengals.
In 2011, he started four games for Cincy and also got the nod in the Bengals’ Wild Card game.
Just a year earlier, however, McGlynn started all 16 games for the Philadelphia Eagles. That kind of experience is a valuable asset along the offensive line, especially when it comes at multiple positions.
In fact, from 2004-2007, McGlynn started at right offensive tackle in college for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, so he could even bounce outside on the line if necessary.
Oh, wait—who was the head coach of Pittsburgh during those years?
That’s right—current Bills defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Dave Wannstedt, who took over the team in 2005.
Buffalo needs depth behind C Eric Wood and LG Andy Levitre. And it wouldn’t hurt to have a guy who can also play tackle.
Scott Mruczkowski, C/G
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Another interior lineman with versatility and experience, Mruczkowski (6’5”, 310 pounds) has ties to Buddy Nix in San Diego.
He started 13 games in 2009 and was once considered to be the successor to Chargers RG Mike Goff.
According to Pro Football Focus per BigBlueView.com, Mruczkowski has graded out as a quality offensive lineman, ranking eighth “among centers who played 75 percent or more of their team’s offensive snaps.”
Big and physical, the swingman offers useful versatility, which is invaluable in a league that normally asks their offensive linemen to know more than one position. Mruczkowski can run-block and pass-block at above-average levels, and he’s experienced enough to be able to step in immediately and offer reliable, starting capability in the event of an injury.
He does come with a little risk himself, though, after suffering a severe ankle injury that required surgery a couple years ago, and also missing time due to a concussion just last season.
Kroy Biermann, DE
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Biermann is a free agent from the Atlanta Falcons.
He’s 6’3”, 260 pounds and rotated in as a left defensive end in 2011. Despite splitting time, the 26-year-old recorded 37 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season.
Per ESPN.com, Scout Inc.’s Matt Williamson labeled Biermann one of his soon-to-be stars before the 2011 campaign, highlighting his “better-than-advertised speed and motor that never stops.” Williamson also points out that Biermann’s best skill is rushing the passer and creating pressure to disrupt the quarterback—something that the Bills need dearly.
Biermann isn’t a flashy name (okay, the name is kind of cool) and doesn’t boast flashy numbers.
If given an opportunity to play alongside talents like Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, Biermann might finally be able to turn his potential into production.
Wallace Gilberry, DE
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Chan Gailey may have interest in this next free agent, who has spent the entirety of his four-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs drafted Gilberry in 2008 when Gailey served as the offensive coordinator. Though Gailey was relieved of duties just prior to the 2009 regular season, Gilberry was already beginning to show signs of potential.
In August of 2011, Rotoworld.com stated the following about him:
Noticeably bigger in the upper body this year, Gilberry has been "almost unstoppable" rushing the passer off the edge. Beat writer Bob Gretz noted that every offensive tackle on the roster has been embarrassed "at least once" by Gilberry’s power rush.
Gilberry has racked up 14 sacks in his first four years and is a good fit for what Buffalo is trying to establish defensively.
Still only 27 years old, he could carve out a role for the Bills.
Jason Hunter, DE/OLB
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Hunter is a decent option coming off the edge, though his statistics from the last two seasons won’t necessarily show it.
Though he recorded a career high in tackles (60) in 2010, Hunter is better suited as a 4-3 DE.
For his frame (6’4”, 271 pounds), the versatile defender is pretty quick off the snap.
Hunter has a respectable amount of NFL experience under his belt and would come at a much cheaper rate than what the Bills are currently paying other defensive players such as Shawne Merriman, Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson.
Jarvis Moss, DE/OLB
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A former first-round pick of the Denver Broncos, Moss has not lived up to expectations.
In fact, his trip through the NFL thus far has been rockier than a ride on the Grizzly at Great America.
Moss has gone from switching positions to taking a hiatus to contemplating retirement to now trying to make a comeback.
After being waived by Denver, Moss was picked up by the Raiders and finally turned the key to his ignition. He apparently impressed Oakland coaches with his work ethic and flashed some of his pass-rushing abilities during limited playing time.
At 6’7”, 257 pounds and only 27 years old, there could be some unlocked potential hiding somewhere within Moss’ frame. It wouldn’t hurt the Bills to kick the tires and see what the former first-round bust has to offer.
Erin Henderson, LB
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Henderson’s name has been garnering attention among Bills fans recently, and with good reason.
Only 25 years old, the linebacker has impressed during his time with the Minnesota Vikings, and had a terrific 2011 campaign in his first season as a starter, racking up 70 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 15 games.
Mobile and instinctual against the run, the 6’3”, 244-pound outside linebacker could be a terrific addition to a Bills defense searching for stability in their current defensive transition. Henderson offers experience in the 4-3 and would be an ideal bookend to veteran Nick Barnett on the outside.
However, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press per Rotoworld.com, “Henderson has ‘made it clear’ he wants to stay in Minnesota, and it’s believed the Vikings could retain him at an affordable rate.”
Henderson and the Vikings are reportedly set to talk at the NFL combine, so Bills fans will have to wait and see how the situation unfolds.
Gary Guyton, LB
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Gary Guyton could be a very interesting name to monitor as we get closer to March.
The 6’3”, 245-pound linebacker played his collegiate football at Georgia Tech under Bills head coach Chan Gailey. By the time he was a senior in 2007, the former Yellow Jacket totaled 78 tackles—14 of which were for loss—along with five sacks while starting all 13 games at linebacker.
His NFL resume is respectable overall, as he’s contributed regularly for the New England Patriots’ defense, though they struggled mightily last year. Since going undrafted in 2008, Guyton has posted 229 total tackles, five sacks and three interceptions while playing for the Pats.
Though he fits better as an inside linebacker, Guyton still has experience on the outside. He took over for Jerod Mayo at weak-side linebacker early in 2011 and is decent in coverage.
Guyton is still only 26 years old.
Antwan Applewhite, LB/DE
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Applewhite is another young linebacker free agent who has decent NFL experience under his belt.
He’s bounced around since going undrafted in 2007, jumping from the San Diego Chargers to the San Francisco 49ers before finally settling in with the Carolina Panthers in 2011.
The 26-year-old has ties to Bills GM Buddy Nix along with linebacker Shawne Merriman in San Diego. With the versatility to play both DE and OLB, Applewhite, who is 6’3” and 258 pounds, could be used as a situational pass-rusher in Buffalo.
Last year, he totaled 25 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in 12 games with the Panthers.
Richard Marshall, CB
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In six NFL seasons, cornerback Richard Marshall has quietly put together a pretty productive career.
His resume posts 500 tackles, seven sacks, 17 interceptions and 57 passes defended.
The Arizona Republic quoted Cardinal’s defensive coordinator Ray Horton as describing Marshall as “‘the most valuable player’” on the Cardinals’ defense. At 5’11” and just under 200 pounds, Marshall flashed the versatility to play both cornerback and safety.
He started games at left corner for Arizona in 2011 and also has experience as a nickel corner.
After being added to the roster to fill in for the departed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, it’s possible the Cardinals will work to retain their defensive utility man in the secondary.
But with Patrick Peterson in waiting and an uncertain situation at quarterback, the Cards may not be willing to overpay to keep Marshall.
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