Buffalo Bills: Value Free Agents to Target This Offseason

Greg MaiolaSenior Analyst IIJanuary 12, 2013

Buffalo Bills: Value Free Agents to Target This Offseason

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    As the Buffalo Bills have hired a new coach in Doug Marrone, they are committing to change things up within the franchise in an effort to work towards the AFC East crown. The class of 2013's free agents may be loaded with talent, but it might be the diamonds in the rough who get Buffalo back on track.

    Many franchises are victim to overspending in the offseason and investing way too much in a particular free agent in the attempt to improve a need. Rather than Buffalo just dishing out money and hoping for the best, there are plenty of under-the-radar free agents who could strengthen the Bills in 2013.

    This list looks at the free agents who will be available at a thrifty price but can still improve the Buffalo Bills in 2013. These value players, along with a few top-tier free agents and a good draft class, could help shape Buffalo for a winning season immediately, right in 2013.

    Here are the value free agents Buffalo should invest in this offseason.

Josh Cribbs

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    Josh Cribbs wants out of Cleveland and wants a bigger role in an NFL offense. Buffalo needs help at wide receiver.

    Cribbs has a lot to offer.

    Most importantly, Cribbs is a top-three special-team player in the league. He is an explosive returner on both punts and kick returns, tying an NFL record with eight career kick-return touchdowns. He is also a solid tackler and good on the defensive side of special teams.

    For as explosive as Cribbs is, the Browns have been content limiting his talent to one phase of the game.

    If the Bills were to add Cribbs, he could open new offensive possibilities.

    Cribbs is simply explosive and can get downfield and separate from coverage. He is also able to rush the ball, similar to Randall Cobb or Percy Harvin, and can pass the ball on trick plays, as he was a quarterback at Kent State.

    Leodis McKelvin's only role on the Bills is as a punt returner, as his defensive coverage is poor. Cribbs would be an alternative to McKelvin and also contribute to the team on offense.

    Due to the likes of Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings on the market, Cribbs should be relatively cheap. He has been a consistent receiver, when given the opportunity, and one of the best return specialists to ever touch an NFL field.

    A football team can never have enough special-teams talent, and Cribbs will immediately improve Buffalo in that category.

    Add in his offensive potential, and Cribbs is an intriguing prospect for the Bills to consider this offseason.

Chase Daniel

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    Chase Daniel has served as a backup to Drew Brees in New Orleans since 2009. Drew Brees has had a close relationship with new Bills coach Doug Marrone, who called the plays for the Saints for a few seasons before heading off to Syracuse.

    This means that Daniel has worked closely with Brees for years and has had an up-close look at how Brees works to be an elite quarterback and probable Hall of Famer. Since Marrone already knows a lot about Brees and how he prepares, he should have an accurate indication as to how Daniel will prepare and play.

    Daniel has won a Super Bowl with New Orleans, backed up Brees as he threw for two consecutive 5,000-yard seasons and watched Brees throw a touchdown in a record 52 straight games. All of this up-close learning and individual working with Brees should benefit Daniel and make him ready to advance in his career elsewhere.

    And Buffalo should be his destination.

    His college career was loaded with accolades and awards, and he has been trained by one of the game's best players for four seasons. Daniel himself thinks he is ready to start in the league, having the confidence needed to lead an NFL team.

    Backups for elite quarterbacks have gone on to star elsewhere in the past: Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks backed up Brett Favre in Green Bay and went on to win playoff games with other franchises.

    At the very least, Daniel would serve as an above-average backup. He has proven to be a winner in college and has only gotten better by learning from Brees day in and day out. Marrone should already have an idea of what Daniel can do, and the Bills are in dire need of a franchise quarterback.

    Daniel is a cheap sign and has a huge upside.

    At the very best, he becomes the Bills' starter and thrives with it. At the very least, he is a backup.

    However, this acquisition won't cost the Bills much. And for this upside, adding Daniel would be a smart move by the organization.

Delanie Walker

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    Delanie Walker is a solid receiving threat, and the San Francisco 49ers might try to retain him, but Walker won't want to be stuck behind Vernon Davis as the no. 2 tight end for much longer.

    Walker had only 21 receptions for 344 yards and three touchdowns this season, but that was due to all of the talent around him. The 49ers had an abundance of talent and options to throw to, and Walker lost a lot of production as a result.

    The Bills have a quality tight end in Scott Chandler, who is a big player with good hands. Walker would add another dimension to the offense due to his different skill set.

    Walker is similar to Dallas Clark because both tight ends serve as receivers and occasionally line up as receivers. The 49ers have even played Walker at fullback, making him a versatile player.

    If he is truly a fullback/tight end/receiver hybrid, he is an upgrade over Dorin Dickerson.

    Waker's skill set is unique, and he can contribute on special teams.

    Having Chandler and Walker lining up at the same time would create defensive matchup problems, as Walker is big like a tight end but runs routes like a receiver. He has playoff experience and can contribute to Buffalo by adding another dimension to the offense.

    Two tight-end systems are becoming popular in today's NFL, and Walker could bring a lot to Buffalo. A tight end is always a security blanket for a quarterback, and Walker's skill set makes him even more valuable on the field.

    Walker would be a relatively cheap add who can really benefit the Bills if given a proper role.

Philip Wheeler

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    Philip Wheeler is an outside linebacker coming off a career year in Oakland. The Buffalo Bills need a lot of help at the linebacking position.

    A marriage between the two could be extremely beneficial.

    Wheeler knows what it takes to be successful in the NFL, as he was a key contributor on the Indianapolis Colts' Super Bowl run in 2009. Flash forward three seasons, and Wheeler has developed into a complete player.

    He started 16 games for the first time in his career in 2012, recording 109 tackles, three sacks, six passes defended and two forced fumbles. Wheeler was given the play-calling duties on defense and plays with intensity and passion.

    Wheeler is an intimidating player who can add to a Buffalo defense that already has some talent. He and Nick Barnett could team up together to lead the linebacker unit.

    And Wheeler has the experience to come in and contribute immediately.

    The Bills really haven't had a scary presence at linebacker since Takeo Spikes, and Wheeler would be able to come in and be a major factor.

    The Bills would be smart to add Wheeler for a relatively low cost and watch him consistently make tackles and lead the linebackers.