Buffalo Bills: Best Free Agency Moves to Make at This Point

Greg Maiola@Gom1094Senior Analyst IIMarch 16, 2013

Buffalo Bills: Best Free Agency Moves to Make at This Point

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    Now that the initial three-day rush has concluded in free agency, the Buffalo Bills are in position to find the right free agents at the right prices.

    Buffalo has been extremely quiet in this open market, signing only Manny Lawson to Mike Pettine's defensive scheme. However, unlike last year's spending spree, the Bills can now be a bit more thrifty with their money and dish out less in return for quality players.

    This list looks at the best moves Buffalo can make at this stage of the 2013 free agency period. There are numerous needs for the Bills in this new regime under Doug Marrone and the new direction the team is heading in should be very exciting for fans.

    The Bills need a new identity under Marrone and free agency allows Buffalo to add experienced players to the equation.

    Here are the players that Buffalo should target at this point of the offseason.

    (Follow me on Twitter @Gom1094 for new articles and all things Buffalo Bills)

Steve Breaston, WR

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    For too long, Stevie Johnson has been the only legitimate threat in the Bills aerial attack.

    And with the organization choosing not to bring back the receiving duo of David Nelson and Donald Jones, Buffalo is in the market for new and improved playmakers at the position.

    Excluding his injury-riddled campaign in Kansas City last season, Steve Breaston has been a very productive NFL receiver.

    Although he was behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin on the Arizona Cardinals' depth chart in 2008, Breaston still recorded 77 receptions for 1,006 yards and three touchdowns.

    Breaston followed that up with consecutive 700-yard receiving seasons in Arizona before landing with the Chiefs as a free agent in 2011.

    He recorded 61 catches for 785 yards and two touchdowns in 2011, which is a pretty impressive feat considering that Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones ran the ball a considerable amount and Dwayne Bowe was Matt Cassel's preferred option.

    The Bills have longed for a receiving threat to line up across from Johnson to open up the offense. Breaston is only 29 years old and has Super Bowl experience, enabling Breaston to know what it takes to get a team to the next level.

    Regardless of who is throwing the football in 2013, the Bills need to improve their options in the passing game. Breaston certainly has the playmaknig history in this league and will be hungry to make amends for a wasted 2012 season.

    Breaston isn't in for a big payday this offseason, but he can be extremely effective under the right circumstances. For a relatively low price, a combination of Breaston and Johnson is certainly worth a look and certainly an upgrade to one of the biggest weaknesses on the Buffalo Bills.

David Carr, QB

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    Remember this guy?

    The No.1-overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft and the first selection in Houston Texans' history is on the open market and would be a terrific fit with the Buffalo Bills.

    David Carr has bounced around five different teams since 2002 and has been far from a quality NFL starter. But with the Bills cutting ties with Ryan Fitzpatrick, the team is in dire need of a new signal-caller in 2013.

    Take a deep breath. I am not campaigning for Carr to come into Buffalo and instantly be the starter. Jason Campbell and Kevin Kolb would be better free-agent options if that was the intended scenario.

    With Fitzpatrick gone and Tarvaris Jackson the only quarterback on the roster, all signs are pointing to Buffalo drafting a quarterback with the No.8 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

    The Bills might be the first team to take a quarterback this April, but this quarterback crop is not to be mistaken with the extremely talented group in 2012.

    Assuming that the Bills draft a quarterback early in this upcoming draft, the quarterback will need to develop. There is simply no NFL ready quarterback who can immediately make the impact that Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson did last season.

    Assuming that the Bills do draft a "franchise quarterback," Carr has a lot to teach and a lot to offer.

    Carr knows what it is like to be drafted with extreme expectations, and knows what it feels like to fail. However, Carr also knows how to stick it out in the NFL and has even tasted success in this league.

    In 2006, Carr led the entire NFL with a 68.3 completion percentage. Against the Bills in 2006, Carr tied an NFL record with 22 consecutive completions. And in 2012, Carr was a serviceable backup who won a Super Bowl as Eli Manning's backup.

    Carr is an above average backup with experience, and still a chip on his shoulder. He will push the Bills signal-caller to be the best quarterback that he can be, while also trying to steal the spot himself.

    Just remember that Tommy Maddox had been written off as a complete NFL bust before his amazing 2002 season proved to the NFL, and Maddox himself, that the former No.1 draft pick can in fact succeed in the NFL.

    Carr has spent time learning from a two-time Super Bowl MVP and is an upgrade over Jackson in Buffalo.

    Signing Carr to be a mentor in Buffalo just makes a lot of sense for where the franchise is at this point in time.

    Maybe if the Bills want their next quarterback to develop, Carr can steal a start or two. Regardless of what exactly Carr's role is in Buffalo, his addition would simply be a win-win scenario for the Bills.

Shaun Phillips, OLB

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    This is where the Bills should open their wallets a little bit this offseason.

    The organization needs to vastly improve the linebacking corps for this upcoming season and Shaun Phillips is a player that would improve the defense.

    Phillips has played nine seasons with the San Diego Chargers and has recorded 473 tackles and 69.5 sacks over the course of his career. He is currently coming off a 9.5-sack season with one safety and two forced fumbles.

    His price tag may be a bit cheaper than it should be due to the fact that he will be 32 years old by opening kickoff this season. However, he is still productive and still has a few seasons left in him.

    And remember, not all linebackers get worse with age. Just look at former Bills London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes.

    With Nick Barnett gone, Phillips would become the most intimidating linebacker on the squad. Though the Chargers ran 3-4 defense, Phillips would be just fine in Mike Pettine's hybrid defense and would still be a threat to get to the quarterback.

    Phillips simply has a track record of getting to the quarterback and create turnovers. Pettine would be able to mold Phillips into a role in Buffalo that would allow him to get to the quarterback and thrive in the other aspects of a 4-3 linebacker.

    While the Bills continue to get younger, Phillips would provide leadership and experience while keeping the Bills competitive for a few seasons. Though he might not be cheap, he won't be too expensive and is one of the finest rush linebackers in the game today.

Mike Jenkins, CB

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    The Bills released Terrence McGee this offseason and resigned Leodis McKelvin, mainly for return purposes.

    There is clearly a void at the defensive back position and the loss of McGee, and return of McKelvin, makes it a priority to add a cornerback or two heading into 2013.

    There is an abundance of veteran cornerbacks on the market right now. Rather than signing an older player at a cheaper price, Buffalo should dish out a little more money for a younger but equally effective player at the position.

    Mike Jenkins inevitably won't return to Dallas, as the Cowboys have Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne as the starters. This allows for the 2009 Pro-Bowler to hit the market and sign where he chooses.

    The Bills have Stephon Gilmore locked in as a starter, but question marks elsewhere. Aaron Williams was hurt last year but rather unimpressive when he did play. However, Williams still needs time to develop and grow as a player and will only get better with time.

    Jenkins would come in and start opposite of Gilmore, making the tandem of cornerbacks rather impressive. When the Bills play Tom Brady twice a year, and the now loaded Dolphins twice a year, the defensive backs will be in for a busy day.

    Jenkins will have an opportunity to immediately start and make an impact for a team in need of quality players at the position. Jenkins will be 28 by Week 1 and should be entering the prime of his career, making his services a necessity for the Bills in the near future.

    The market and price for Jenkins is still relatively unknown at this point. If his price range is within reason, the Bills should add Jenkins to shore up the pass defense.

    Jenkins won't have a significant role with the Cowboys but has an opportunity to be a major difference on a defense that figures to significantly improve under Mike Pettine, making this potential marriage a win-win.

Julian Edelman, WR

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    Although Julian Edelman started following the San Francisco 49ers on Twitter, it is unlikely that he goes there to sit behind Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Anquan Boldin on the roster.

    Though the fact that he is following the 49ers is bizarre, don't look too much into it.

    The Buffalo Bills would have a much better role for Edelman than San Francisco would, and would be able to wound the New England Patriots at the same time.

    Edelman would be a terrific fit as a slot receiver in Buffalo. In nine games and three starts last season, Edelman recorded 21 receptions for 235 yards and three touchdowns. He also chipped in 45 rushing yards and was one of the top return specialists in the NFL. He even played a bit of cornerback, proving how versatile he really is.

    The Bills need to improve the wide receiver corps and Edelman would be a terrific fit as a slot receiver. He is sure handed, elusive and, though his stats don't show it, extremely effective last season.

    The Patriots make a killing from stealing players within the division, and the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have followed suit in recent seasons. Stealing Edelman would be a blow to the Patriots and might enable former Bills player Donald Jones to a bigger role in New England.

    Whoever is the quarterback for Buffalo this fall will benefit from Edelman as a safety valve and as a matchup advantage on defense. He runs precise routes and can turn any play into a big one.

    Edelman is also very good in the return game and is simply a versatile player who can do a lot. With no disrespect intended to Brad Smith, Edelman might be better suited for the gadget player on offense due to his speed and elusiveness, assuming Doug Marrone pulls the plug on the wildcat.

    This signing wouldn't be extremely expensive, but would be extremely effective. Edelman also has the playoff and Super Bowl experience that nearly all Bills long for.

    Oh yeah, Edelman might have a thing or two to inform the Bills about New England as well.