During his initial press conference with the Buffalo Bills, you may recall Terrell Owens' statement of "Get your popcorn ready". That could also apply to the Buffalo Bills' coaching staff and the rest of the front office. The reason why is that over the span of the next ten days, there will be plenty of film sessions underway within the confines of One Bills Drive.
The coaching staff is in place now, and they will be tearing through game tapes from the past season to determine which players are going to be brought back for the 2010 season, and which ones will be given a pink slip. The coaching staff will then supply their feedback to Buddy Nix, who then coordinates which positions must be addressed through free agency, trades, or the draft.
The front office, primarily those that are entrusted with making the selections in the upcoming draft, will be pouring over game tape to help them prioritize which players they plan to test up close and personal when the NFL Combines begin on Feb. 24. That does not leave them with a lot of time to rank who they see as their top priorities, recognizing that this was a group that has just been hired very recently.
So, the Bills personnel responsible for the draft probably have a looser ranking right now of whom they feel will help the team coming into the combine. You know they will want to spend time talking to the quarterbacks, left tackles, defensive tackles, wide receivers, and linebackers in attendance. If Sam Bradford's injury allows him to attend the combine, you know the Bills will be sitting down with him at length.
Once the combine is done, the Bills will then firm up their prospect list. Then they go back into the film room, and look at unrestricted free agent footage to determine if they want to go after somebody that is now on the street and unemployed. Tape, tape, and more tape.
That is the great thing about tape: It doesn't lie. You see which players are hustling, which ones blow assignments, and which ones never quit during a game. All the things you like to see in the players you want to be with you next season. The thing that the tape doesn't tell you is which players were fighting through specific injuries during that game and as a result their performance suffered.
Just like watching game tape every week of the NFL season preparing for your next opponent, this current tape session review will be among the most crucial duties and decisions for Bills management as they determine what core members of the team will be here for the foreseeable future.
Who are the Bills Unrestricted and Restricted Free Agents?
Unrestricted Free Agents on Offense : Terrell Owens, Josh Reed, Kendall Simmons, and Seth McKinney
Unrestricted Free Agents on Defense : Bryan Scott, Ryan Denney, Chris Draft, and Todd Johnson.
Restricted Free Agents on Offense : Richie Incognito and Joe Klopfenstein
Restricted Free Agents on Defense : George Wilson, Keith Ellison, and Ashton Youboty
The restricted free agent situation is one that is still up in the air due to the lack of a formal agreement in place with the NFLPA. So, if the 2010 season does become one that has no salary cap, their status could become that of restricted free agents instead.
Due to the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4, the free agents on defense will be subjected to the ramifications of the new alignment: Do they belong, are they a fit, or are they now passe? How many of the 4-3 defenders still have a job to come back to next year will be one of the many mysteries surrounding this offseason for the Bills.
Out of all the names on the lists above, you would think the Bills would want to bring back George Wilson, Bryan Scott, and Richie Incognito. The rest of the players are being evaluated now in that film room, with their fate being decided in the near future.
Pass the popcorn, T.O.!
Finally, if you have not done so yet, please cast your vote on the poll you will see in the article: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/343843-buffalo-bills-you-are-buddy-nix-so-who-do-you-draft-with-first-pick. We will be making the first selection for the Bills this week in the Bleachers Report Featured Columnist NFL Mock Draft, and we want your input. Thank you.