Bills Free Agency Tracker: Updated Signings, Rumors & Grades
But will they be? So far, not yet.
They were big spenders last year, giving big contracts to defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson while re-signing a few of their own key players. They may not be quite so active this time around.
That being said, there will still be some moves worth discussing. Consider this your one-stop shop for all the Bills rumors, reports, additions and subtractions. We'll also be keeping score with grades for each move.
Latest Rumors and Reports
USA TODAY Sports
March 13: According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson is trying to recruit wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to the Bills. The former first-round pick was released by the Raiders on Tuesday.
March 12: Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says LeVitre "will be the highest-paid guard on the market, though a Jahri Evans type deal seems ambitious."
Free Agency Additions/Re-Signings
USA TODAY Sports
Free Agency Subtractions
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Bills Place Franchise Tag on S Jairus Byrd
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Deal: one year, $6.916 million
Check out my previous post for my complete thoughts on the move, which took place on March 1.
Bills Re-Sign CB Leodis McKelvin
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Terms: four years, $17 million
McKelvin was the league's most dynamic punt returner, with 18.3 yards per punt return on average and two touchdowns both leading the league. His 28.3 yards per kickoff return ranked fourth in the NFL behind only Percy Harvin, Jacoby Jones and Leon Washington.
Clearly, he's good at what he does, but four years and $20 million is a big investment in a return specialist.
The Bills may have bigger plans for McKelvin, though. It has been reported (by BuffaloBills.com) that McKelvin will compete for the starting job at left cornerback, opposite Stephon Gilmore. Will it work, though?
McKelvin has played 29 games over the past two years, but has started just 10 at cornerback. He has two interceptions and eight pass deflections to show for it, but has allowed seven touchdowns in that time and has given up a passer rating above 93 both years (via ProFootballFocus.com).
Any sign that McKelvin can be a starter at cornerback would be the first such sign of his five-year career.
Bills Release QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Financial: $10 million in dead money, $450,000 in cap savings
This move wasn't much of a shock. Fitzpatrick wasn't nearly the quarterback he was for the seven games that made him a $59 million dollar man, and for that, it's time for the Bills to move on.
They still have no answers at quarterback, and will have to find one at some point this offseason unless they plan on going with either Tarvaris Jackson or Aaron Corp.
That being said, sometimes it's better just to cut bait. At least this way, the Bills can now spread his $10 million in dead money out over a two-year stretch.
G Andy LeVitre Signs with the Titans
Al Bello/Getty Images
Terms: five-year, $39 million contract with the Titans
The Titans probably gave LeVitre a bit too much, with $7.8 million per season ranking him among the top five guards in the NFL.
He may be close to that, but the Bills clearly didn't look at LeVitre as a building block for their offense.
The Bills don't have a lot of other options at guard. Chad Rinehart was injured in 2012 and is no longer with the team after signing with the Chargers. This leaves Kraig Urbik in a position to assume a starting role in 2013.
Bills Sign LB Manny Lawson
John Grieshop/Getty Images
After nearly 24 hours of inactivity (minus releasing Fitzpatrick), the Bills finally made their first move to improve the roster through a signing.
Lawson is a 3-4 linebacker at heart, having spent the '08-'10 seasons as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the 49ers. He has played 4-3 outside linebacker for the Bengals over the past two years, and has done far less pass-rushing since donning tiger stripes, instead playing primarily run support and in pass coverage.
That being said, his scheme versatility will fit right in with new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
As noted by Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 SportsRadio, all three former NC State defensive linemen that were drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft have now spent time as a part of the organization.
The Bills released linebacker Nick Barnett earlier this offseason and the jury is still out on linebacker Kelvin Sheppard's ability to be successful in the NFL. For now, the signing fills a need; whether that need is actually filled will be answered when he takes the field.
G Chad Rinehart Signs with the Chargers
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Chad Rinehart was never seen as more than a backup guard, even though he was thrust into a starting role on a few occasions due to injuries in the lineup. He had a great season in 2011 when he was asked to start 12 games, and according to ProFootballFocus.com, he gave up just 10 total pressures on 569 pass plays (1.76 percent).
So we know he can play when he's healthy, but after suffering a major ankle injury in 2012, the Bills were likely less than confident with his ability to be a starter for them. That being said, with Andy LeVitre already out the door, the Bills don't currently have a lot of options on the roster at guard.