Ranking Buffalo's Best Remaining Free-Agent Options
News coming out of 1 Bills Drive is hard to come by these days. The Buffalo Bills have been one of the least active teams since the NFL free-agency period started nine days ago. In fact, other than their signing of outside linebacker Manny Lawson, there has been no inkling that the Bills have anything else cooking.
The slow start has further discouraged a hungry fanbase, if that is at all possible for a team that has not made the playoffs since the Clinton administration.
Buffalo was never going to make a big splash on the market after last year's flurry of big-time transactions, but there are holes that they could easily fill with free agents.
However, the market has been slower than many had expected. C-list free agents were signed in plenty on the first two days of the period, but bigger names like Sebastian Vollmer, Andre Smith and Brent Grimes all remain without teams.
To the outside eye it looks as if the Bills have been sitting on their hands, but a closer look sees a team that has simply let the market play itself out.
According to Spotrac.com the Bills have a current salary of $105,263,011, which puts them a bit short of $18 million under the raised cap ($123 million in 2013). Based on where Buffalo selects in the draft, they'll have to commit close to $6 million in salary for their rookies, which leaves close to $12 million for signings.
Buffalo rarely spends up to the cap, bringing $9.8 million over from last season, but the Bills have too many holes to fill to only focus on the collegiate draft.
So which players still on the market would present Buffalo with the greatest return on investment? Let's take a quick look.
Brandon Moore has been linked to a handful of teams, including the free-spending Miami Dolphins, but Buffalo has not had documented interest.
Moore was a popular pick as a free agent the Bills would go after because of his connections with Doug Marrone and Mike Pettine from when both coaches were members of the New York Jets organization.
The losses of Andy Levitre to the Tennessee Titans and Chad Rinehart to the San Diego Chargers has left a gaping hole at guard that Buffalo will need to fill at some point this offseason. It was assumed that if Levitre left in free agency, Buffalo would keep Rinehart around because of his experience, but it never transpired.
I'm not sure how the team could be content going into the year with Kraig Urbik and Colin Brown as the two starters on the interior.
Guard is a deep position in the 2013 draft, but the Bills have more pressing needs at the top of the draft. That leaves them the opportunity to sign a player like Moore on a cheap contract.
Moore is a rock on the inside, not having missed a game since his sophomore season in 2004. He usually grades out as one of the better guards in the league and would provide a good bridge to whatever plans the Bills have for the position in the near future.
Mike Jenkins was mentioned in my initial look at free agency as a potential target once the initial wave of signings had passed. He remains on the market and not much buzz has circulated about his potential landing spot.
Buffalo is still in need of a veteran corner because Stephon Gilmore is the only player on the depth chart that has true starting potential. Aaron Williams and recently re-signed Leodis McKelvin have each been a part of the experiment at the opposite corner spot, but results have been mixed at best.
Jenkins has not played very well since his Pro Bowl appearance in 2009, but the former first-round pick still has time to salvage his NFL career at the age of 27. He has the speed and ball skills to be a contributor in the interception department, but Jenkins' tendency to bite on fakes has gotten him burned on plenty of occasions.
Even still, Jenkins would be a cheap option with enough upside to warrant a look.
Early Doucet is not going to light anyone's world on fire, but he is another player at a position of need that would come at a minor cost. Remember that Buffalo is not going to be players on the higher-priced guys still available, so players like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Brandon Lloyd probably are not fits.
Doucet was a cap casualty in a suddenly cozy wide receiver group out in Arizona. He has never lived up to his third-round pick status, but he is still a capable player in the receiving game.
The issues with the former Louisiana State Tiger are injuries and drops, which no fan ever wants to hear.
Doucet is another player young enough to make something of his career and would provide an upgrade over what the Bills are currently trotting out there at receiver.
It seems obvious that Buffalo will add a receiver or two in the draft, but they still need to scramble for a cheap veteran option to fill out the roster.
Kellen Davis is the player that the Chicago Bears hoped would become a solid receiving option after the team foolishly traded Greg Olsen two years ago.
Unfortunately, Davis never became that consistent option mainly because there were only so many balls to go around. Brandon Marshall, Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery are the top three options in Chicago, which made the need for a big target like Davis unnecessary.
At 6'7", Davis is going to become a bargain for some team in the second or third week of free agency.
Buffalo has a need at tight end because of Scott Chandler's ACL injury in the final game of 2012. Similar in stature and obscurity, Davis would give the Bills a capable pair of hands in the passing game as both a receiver and blocker.
Kyle Moore ended up being a pleasant surprise for the Bills in 2012, after being a late free-agent signing during the 2011 season.
Moore was another mid-round pick that floundered with his original team and has found a bit of a resurgence with a new team. His stats for Buffalo last season, 24 tackles and three sacks, definitely do not look like a starter's stats. But he can provide the Bills with much-needed depth on the line.
He has not been linked to any other teams since free agency began, which means that a return to the Bills could be in store as the weeks progress.