Buffalo Bills: Big Name Free Agents Not the Key to Success
When the clock struck 12:01 on Saturday morning, struggling teams like the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions made their desperation known, attacking the free agent market by signing big time players like Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor, and Nate Burleson to big-time contracts.
A few AFC East foes quickly followed, making headlines as a result of trades and signings: CB Antonio Cromartie to the Jets, LB Karlos Dansby to the 'Fins, and NT Vince Wilfork becoming the highest paid DT in the NFL for the Patriots.
Still, Bills fans are watching the ESPN ticker, waiting for the move that will take their team to the promised land. Offensive lineman Wade Smith visited Buffalo over the weekend, but departed for Houston before a deal could be reached.
But is the lack of aggressiveness in free agency a bad thing for Buffalo? Can the team really afford to shell out a big time contract for a 30-year-old player, when there are so many holes to fill? The answer to both questions is no.
Remaining Free Agents the Bills Should Target:
LB Joey Porter, Miami Dolphins
Today, reports are surfacing that Buffalo intends to meet with Linebacker Joey Porter, who could be used as a rotational pass rusher in the 3-4 scheme Buffalo will utilize in the upcoming season. The former 'Fin may choose Arizona over Buffalo, thanks to lobbying by DT Darnell Dockett. Porter, however big his ego is, could be a great pick up for the Bills.
At 31, he is an aging veteran, but he could exhibit leadership for the young defensive corp the Bills are working with. He is a proven pass rusher, and could serve as a mentor for young Aaron Maybin, who is putting on some weight this offseason, already adding six pounds in the past week.
QB Charlie Whitehurst, San Diego Chargers
Charlie Whitehurst may be a sleeper here for the Bills. A restricted free agent with a third round tender, Buffalo would surrender their third round draft pick for the former Clemson Tiger. Most Bills fans wouldn't approve of this, but hey, how many surprises have we had already? Whitehurst has great upside, being coached by a great QB mentor in Norv Turner for the past four seasons. He won't win any Super Bowls, but he could be a game manager, while a drafted QB develops under him.
DE Jarvis Green, New England Patriots
Green may not be high on the Bills' radar this offseason, but he could be a force as a rotational pass rusher. However, he may not have the size to play in the 3-4 scheme.
Another QB who won't win us a Super Bowl, Delhomme would still be an excellent mentor to a young prospect. Coming off Tommy John surgery last season, he threw a ton of picks, but could come back with a vengeance for the red, white, and blue.
WR Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bryant is the big, physical wideout Buffalo needs in order to take pressure off of Lee Evans. He averaged 15.4 ypc last season, and can only improve with a prolific passer under center. With Josh Reed gone, Buffalo may explore this option.
2010 NFL Draft
The Bills may not make a huge splash in free agency, but Buddy Nix has a knack for drafting big time players. Since 2001 in San Diego, Nix has assisted in drafting LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Quentin Jammer, Igor Olshansky, Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Cromartie, Marcus McNeil, Shaun Phillips, Michael Turner, Darren Sproles, and Shane Olivea. Not Bad.
I expect Buffalo to use their nine draft picks wisely this year, especially toward offensive lineman and linebackers. Buffalo will most likely employ a 3-4 Over scheme, one that calls for lineman that fit Buffalo's personnel. With this scheme, Marcus Stroud and Kyle Williams would be set as DT and DE, with Spencer Johnson and Chris Kelsay rotating. Aaron Schobel would become a linebacker, alongside Paul Posluszny, Kawika Mitchell, and Maybin.
If this is so, Buffalo will heavily address the depleted offensive line, while adding depth at the linebacker and defensive tackle position.
Patience is a Virtue!
The offseason has only just begun, but don't jump on Nix or Chan Gailey just yet. To me, the draft has more promising prospects than free agency, and those guys come at a much lower price tag. So be patient, and wait for the draft before jumping to conclusions on the 2010 season. I don't expect a Super Bowl run this year, but we may make it out of the bottom 10 if we are lucky!
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