2011 NFL Free Agents: 10 Players The Buffalo Bills Should Target
With the Super Bowl just under two weeks ago, the 30 teams left out of the big dance are looking ahead to next season.
With ongoing conflict regarding a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players association and owners, free agency may chance completely.
The Buffalo Bills finished the 2010 season with a 4-12 record, and hold the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The new front office and coaching staff has brought a new mentality into Orchard Park, and they will definitely look to bring in key players through free agency, as they did last year with the signings of veterans Andra Davis and Dwan Edwards.
This slideshow takes a realistic look at the top 10 players the Bills should target in free agency this year.
Enjoy, and feel free to add players I left out, or players that you wouldn't want next year!
David Harris, LB, New York Jets
David Harris has wreaked havoc on the Buffalo Bills offense twice a year over the past four seasons, as a member of the AFC East division rival New York Jets.
While it may be difficult to lure Harris away from Rex Ryan and the Jets, they have quite a few free agents they need to resign.
Harris is a true 3-4 linebacker, and would be an immediate boost to the Bills' front seven. This year, he made 99 tackles, three sacks, and forced a fumble.
Dave Wannstedt, the recently named inside linebackers/ assistant head coach, would absolutely love to have this dominating backer to work with.
Zach Miller, TE, Oakland Raiders
The Buffalo Bills haven't had a game changing tight end that could move the chains and find the endzone in decades.
They drafted Shawn Nelson in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, yet injuries have plagued him from making an impact.
The sudden emergence of talent at the wide receiver position has forced defenses to stay honest, but the Bills are in serious need of a big, physical tight end that can attack the middle of the field.
Zach Miller has had a great career thus far, playing for a terrible Oakland Raiders franchise. Last season, he caught 60 passes for 685 yards, while finding the endzone five times.
At just 25 years of age, Miller would be a great addition to the Bills offense.
Bernard Pollard, S, Houston Texans
With safety Donte Whitner quickly earning a trip out of town, the Bills will need to add a strong safety to play alongside Jairus Byrd.
Whitner is seeking top safety money, in the range of $7 million per year. A player that has five interceptions in five seasons doesn't deserve that.
Bernard Pollard is just as physical as Whitner, and makes plays all over the field. On the year, Pollard has racked up 111 tackles while forcing four fumbles. He added 2.5 sacks, and is significantly better in coverage than Whitner.
Manny Lawson, LOLB, San Francisco 49ers
Bills fans saw just how much Chris Kelsay struggled in his transition from a defensive end to an outside linebacker early in the season. He played his best football when his hand was in the ground, and rushing the passer.
Adding a linebacker of Manny Lawson's caliber would allow the Bills to do a lot more on defense, as he is stout in coverage, and can rush the quarterback as well.
This year, he made 59 tackles, forced two fumbles, made 2.5 sacks, and had an interception.
At 6'5" 240 pounds, he is the prototypical size you look for in a linebacker. He is well versed in the 3-4, as he was taught by one of the best ever, in Mike Singletary.
Tyson Clabo, RT, Atlanta Falcons
The Bills offensive line has been in shambles over the past three seasons. While the major question entering the 2010-2011 season was who would be the solid left tackle to fill the void left by Jason Peters, now the right tackle spot is wide open.
Demetrius Bell played the entire season at left tackle, and seems to be emerging into a promising bookend on the offensive line.
However, Coach Gailey couldn't decide on a full time starter at right tackle, after releasing veteran Cornell Green, and shuffling between Mansfield Wrotto and Cordero Howard down the stretch of the season.
Tyson Clabo has started all 53 of his games for the Atlanta Falcons, and is an excellent run blocker and pass protector. At 6'6", 331 pounds, he would add the bulk and physicality that Coach Gailey is seeking.
Paul Soliai, NT, Miami Dolphins
The Bills are still struggling to add the right personnel to operate the 3-4 defense, Paul Soliai, nose tackle of the Miami Dolphins, would be a solid addition.
He is 27 years old, and at 6'4", 355 pounds, Soliai is what you look for in a traditional two-gap nose guard, and would allow the Bills to be a lot more flexible with Kyle WIlliams.
Last year was Soliai's first year seeing significant playing time, and he made 39 tackles and two sacks. While the stats aren't eye popping, he was solid in taking on blockers, and was aa focal point of the Dolphins defense.
Eric Wright, CB, Cleveland Browns
The Bills secondary was believed to be the lone strength on the team this year, but with Terrence McGee nagged by injuries, and Leodis McKelvin unable to be consistent in coverage, bringing in Eric Wright would be a great addition.
With Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown emerging as top tier cornerbacks, Wright will most likely hit the market. Drayton Florence of the Buffalo Bills also will be testing the free agency market, so Wright could end up in a Bills uniform.
Wright made 42 tackles and intercepted just one pass this year, but at 25 years of age, he has a lot of room for growth, and wouldn't come with the price tag of drafting a Patrick Peterson or Prince Amukamara.
Jared Gaither, OT, Baltimore Ravens
Last offseason, Jared Gaither was a popular name as trade bait, but after missing the year due to injury, he may have lost some of his luster.
Either way, he is a physical freak at 6'9", 340 pounds, and he can hold down both the left and right tackle positions. His long arms deep pass rushers at bay, and could compete with Demetrius Bell for the left tackle position, or start on the right side.
It is unlikely he returns to Baltimore, after the Ravens committed to Michael Oher, and Buffalo would love to have him.
Johnny Jolly, DE/DT, Green Bay Packers
Johnny Jolly was coming off of a solid 2009 season, in which he made 39 tackles, with a sack, a force fumble, and an interception, but he was arrested for possession of codeine, causing him to miss the 2010 season.
If the Bills decide to take a chance on him, Jolly is a solid run defender, and can play both defensive end and tackle in the 3-4 front. Due to his arrest, he may be available for a reasonable price.
Roman Harper, S, New Orleans Saints
Aside from Bernard Pollard, Roman Harper is another great strong safety that is due to hit the free agent market this offseason.
He was part of the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, and is he isn't re-signed, the Bills should definitely jump on him.
He can drop back in coverage, as well as play on the line of scrimmage, and cover the best of tight ends.
Last season, Harper made 98 tackles, three sacks, and an interception, while defending eight passes.
Harper would be a huge improvement over Donte Whitner, and would allow the Bills to bring pressure from the secondary as well.
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