Buffalo Bills: 10 Bold Offseason Predictions After Dismal 2010 Season
Expectations weren't very high for the 2010 Buffalo Bills after the hiring of General Manager Buddy Nix and a complete revamping of the coaching staff, but this season has been one of the most exciting to watch, give or take a few games.
The Bills started off the year losing their first eight contests but are now 4-11, in prime position to earn a top five pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
There were surely signs of hope throughout the year, but Nix and Chan Gailey will still have some difficult decisions to make this offseason, and in this slide show, I will give you 10 bold predictions of what to expect.
Donte Whitner Will Be an Unrestricted Free Agent
Buffalo Bills strong safety Donte Whitner leads all defensive backs with 136 tackles on the season, and is set to become a free agent at season's end.
He has publicly expressed his desire for a new contract, which has been rumored to be in the $7 million per-year range, and that is clearly not a number he deserves.
The Bills selected Whitner with the No. 8 overall pick in 2006, and he hasn't done much to separate himself from the pack of top-tier defensive backs in the league.
The Bills reportedly are offering a contract in the $5 million per-year range, which I still believe to be a bit high, but Whitner has flat-out rejected it.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Will Be the 2011 Opening Day Starter
Ryan Fitzpatrick has played above and beyond all expectations Bills fans had when he took over for Trent Edwards after the second game of the season.
In the 13 games since, he has passed for 3,000 yards, 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while keeping the Bills close in almost every game.
Coach Chan Gailey publicly stated that, "It would be stupid to not start him," after his stellar leadership, given the circumstances of a shoddy offensive line and a no-name receiving corps.
With the Bills seemingly out of the race for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the top-rated prospect in the upcoming draft, Fitzpatrick will start the 2011 season under center.
The Bills Will Draft the Best Defensive Player Available in the First Round
The Bills hold the league's worst run defense, allowing over an average of 160 yards per game on the ground, and GM Buddy Nix will draft the best defensive player available.
There isn't a tackle worthy of top five consideration, and whether it be Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, Alabama's Marcell Dareus or even Louisiana State's Patrick Peterson, an impact defensive player will be the Bills first pick.
Bowers and Dareus can shore up the defensive line in both the 3-4 and 4-3 defensive fronts, while Patrick Peterson is a big and physical cornerback who can jam receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Aaron Maybin Will Be Released
Aaron Maybin and his ridiculous haircuts will be taking their talents elsewhere after the former Penn State stud is finally cut by the Buffalo Bills front office.
Maybin was the No. 11 overall draft pick just two seasons ago, and the only reason he hasn't been cut yet is because of the lack of depth at the linebacker position.
He does a great job of serving Gatorade on the sidelines, but that first-round price tag will be gone soon enough.
Paul Posluszny Will Re-Sign
Paul Posluszny is one of the top inside linebackers in the National Football League, and many would be ecstatic to see that his contract in Orchard Park is coming to an end. But Poz is cut from a different cloth.
A relentless warrior on Sundays, Posluszny gives 120 percent on every down and has publicly expressed interest in staying in Buffalo, through thick and thin.
Posluszny has 139 tackles in 13 games this year, and he deserves a "C" on the upper corner of his jersey next season, right after he signs on the dotted line.
No Big-Name Free Agents Will Be Signed
Nix has said on multiple occasions that the Buffalo Bills will be built through the draft, and not through big-name free-agent signings.
Personally, I agree with him. The Washington Redskins signed Santana Moss, DeAngelo Hall, Albert Haynesworth, etc. and are still at the bottom of the NFC East division.
The National Football League isn't a game of Madden, where you can plug in a few top-notch players and make the Super Bowl the next year.
Nix started with a strong foundation in last year's draft, and I expect the same this year.
Eric Wood Will Move to Center
Eric Wood was drafted in the first round out of Louisville, where he played center, but was moved to right guard, as Geoff Hangartner held down the center position.
After making USA's All-Fundamentals Team, Wood should move back to his natural position, where he plays far superior than he does at guard.
Ed Wang, Chad Rinehart and Cordero Howard have all seen snaps this season at right guard, and with Hangartner aging, it might be the time to change.
George Edwards Will Stay as Defensive Coordinator
In his first year as the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator, there aren't many positive things to say. The Bills have the worst run defense in the National Football League, and they aren't much better against the pass.
However, it is too soon to fire Edwards. The transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive front isn't easy, and the entire roster was overhauled in the offseason, and those who stayed were at new positions.
Edwards gets a pass this year, but he will be on the hot seat next season.
Shawne Merriman Will Sign a Contract with Buffalo
The Bills claimed Shawne Merriman off of waivers shortly after he was released from the San Diego Chargers, but he injured his Achilles in his first practice with the team.
Many pundits and reporters say Merriman has absolutely no interest in staying in western New York, but I believe he will.
He isn't going to get the top dollars he wants, but if the Bills offer a decent salary in the $2-4 million per-year range, with increasing incentives, he would be stupid not to sign.
Since being busted for steroids along with nagging injuries, not too many teams were willing to take a chance on "Lights Out," but I think he realizes the respect Buffalo gave him upon his arrival.
Mike Singletary Will Be Brought in as Linebackers Coach
Mike Singletary was fired yesterday by the San Francisco 49ers, and the Buffalo Bills need to jump on him as soon as possible. It may be difficult to get him as a position coach, but Singletary would bring an attitude and experience that the players would respect.
Singletary was an unbelievable linebacker, and the players would relate to his experience.
DeMontie Cross is the current inside linebackers coach and has been with the organization for five years, but there hasn't been any real improvement since he made the jump from defense and special teams assistant to a coach.