As you may well know, the most anticipated series of events other than those related to the draft during the off-season is the NFL Free Agent Signing Period.
Negotiations about the new CBA should make this period be even more interesting.This article will examine the pending free agents on the Bills roster and what they should do with them.
As any good fisherman knows sometimes you have to throw some fish back, because they are too small or unsatisfactory, and some fish you keep. We'll look at what these future free-agents have done, could do and if they should get a chance to wear the Bills new uniforms this coming fall.
Summary: Ayodele has been the quintessential journeyman at middle linebacker throughout his career. He has made stops in Jacksonville, Dallas, Miami, Denver and Buffalo. He has been a starter throughout most of this time.
Past Achievements: His best pro season came in 2003 while with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he registered 115 tackles and intercepted two passes that season.
Salary Demands: At this point in his career, and knowing his options, Ayodele is likely to keep his contract demands reasonable.
Potential: Ayodele is on the back-end of a non-descript workman-like career. You could do worse in the middle than Ayodele, but at his age (he will turn 32 early next season) his best days are likely behind him.
Final Verdict: For the sake of depth issues, Ayodele should be given a long look for a return to the Bills. But only after the Draft has concluded and other potential starters within the free agent market have been vetted. A 31-32 year old middle linebacker ( not named Urlacher or Lewis) is a high risk.
Summary: A sometimes starter when healthy, Ellison has enjoyed a no frills big play lacking career.
Past Achievements: Managed to make the Bills team despite being a Sixth Round draft pick in 2006.
Salary Demands: Keith Ellison is a player who will likely want more than the veterans minimum as a sometimes starter.
Potential: While Ellison has shown the ability to start for the Bills it is unlikely that he would be afforded the same opportunity with many other teams in the league. He is the ideal swing starter or special teams role player.
Final Verdict: Due to depth issues at inside linebacker, Ellison, despite his own health issues is likely to be retained.
Summary: A steadying force in the Bills beleaguered secondary in 2010, Florence, finds himself looking for a new contract after one of his best seasons as a pro.
Past Achievements: Led the Bills in takeaways this past season, returning both a fumble and an interception for touchdowns.
Salary Demands: After blowing it with a mega-deal signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars after only one season, Florence may be looking for one last big pay-day.
Potential: At this stage of his career, Florence, is a solid number two corner for a team without a stellar secondary, he has shown the ability to be a sixteen game starter capable of the big play on occasion.
Final Verdict: His ties to Buddy Nix, who drafted him while with the Chargers, may keep Florence in the fold for a bit longer. With a defense starving for any type of play-makers a reasonable salary demand should be all it takes to bring him back.
Summary: McCargo has yet to make significant contributions on the field and has been labeled a bust almost as soon as he stepped onto the practice field.
Past Achievements: 2.5 sacks in 16 games during the 2007 season.
Salary Demands:It would be a surprise to see McCargo pursuing much higher than the veterans minimum and possibly a crime.
Potential: It is quite clear that McCargo has not lived up to the potential he exhibited causing Buffalo to draft him in the 1st round back in 2006. The Bills have made up for McCargo's underachieving ways with the over-achievement of fellow draft-mate Kyle Williams.
Final Verdict: McCargo has likely seen his last days as a Bill and may be on his way out of the league. Someone may give him a shot based on that untapped potential he still has.
Summary: After battling through injuries earlier in his career, Pos has posted 100+ tackle seasons for the past three seasons. He is not a Pro Bowl player, though despite these gaudy numbers.
Past Achievements: Three-straight 100+ tackle seasons, a Bills Defensive MVP award in 2008, becoming a fan favorite.
Salary Demands: While not a prima-donna by any means, Pos, is likely to be going for his largest professional contract yet. This is based on his performance and his age as this is likely his last big money deal.
Potential: Despite being undersized Posluszny has been ultra-productive. Although some argue his productivity is due to the fact that someone on the Bills low ranked defense has to be making tackles.
Final Verdict: Posluszny is not an ideal fit for the Bills anywhere outside of the locker-room, on a better team he would be an inspirational Mike Vrabel type player. A guy like him would fit in well with a team that runs a defense allowing for smaller linebackers, however, Pos also lacks the foot speed to match up well in this type of scheme. All these factors aside, Pos has to return to the Bills due to the underwhelming amount of candidates on the open market( via draft and free agency) and also the Bills high need for many linebackers to run their 3-4 scheme.
Summary: A slight reach in the First Round for the Bills in 2006, Whitner will fairly or not, will always be compared to who the Bills could have gotten Haloti Ngata. A player many Bills fans clamored for during the pre-draft period. However, even worse is the fact that Whitner has been outplayed by Roman Harper(2nd Round pick and 2x Pro Bowler), Dawan Landry ( a 5th Round Pick) and Antoine Bethea (6th Round Pick 1x Pro Bowler) all who were drafted much later than he was.
Past Achievements: In his contract year Whitner,registered career highs in almost every statistical category. He played in all 16 games for the first time in his career. He was almost perfect.
Salary Demands: It has been rumored that Whitner wants top flight safety type money and could out price the Bills despite his speeches about wanting to return to the Bills.
Potential: At a young 25, Whitner still has loads of potential, but his lack of big plays matched up against his high contract demands sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Final Verdict: While Whitner may claim to desire a return to One Bills Drive, it is highly likely we'll be looking for a new strong safety to start next season. Whitner looks like he will be a Redskin in almost no time.
Summary: George Wilson is a Buffalo Bill through and through. His blue-collar career reflects and embodies what Buffalo is all about. He is a Bill that has paid his own dues. While the C on his jersey may stand for Captain, it should also stand for Contributor.
Past Achievements: His best season to date came in 2009, as he started, registered 103 tackles (70 solo) and four picks.
Salary Demands: As a guy who could be a special teams contributor or a starter in a pinch Wilson knows he has more value than the average back-up. That being said, Wilson will likely keep his demands reasonable, although this could be his last contract.
Potential: Wilson, who will be 30 years old, at the start of the season has little un-tapped potential left. It is unfortunate that he didn't make the switch to the defensive side of the ball during his college days, as the time it has taken him to find himself has surely derailed what could have been an even more effective career. It is possible that Wilson could be a starter for the Bills or several other teams.
Final Verdict: Letting a potential starter in the Bills fledgling secondary walk would not be a prudent move, unless their salary demands are exorbitant (See Donte Whitner). It would be nice for the Bills to bring back Wilson for a couple of years.
Summary: Mansfield Wrotto, a Liberian by birth, has had an inconclusive career. His time at Georgia Tech coincides with that of current Buffalo Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey, who he played under. After being drafted in the 4th round of the 2007 draft by the Seattle Seahawks he was cut this past season and later signed by the Bills as a Gailey reclamation project.
Past Achievements: After being cut by the Seahawks, Wrotto came on strong starting in seven of eleven games for the Bills this past season.
Salary Demands: For a guy like Wrotto, being able to play in a system he is familiar with may entice him to give the Bills a good shot at retaining his services. Based on his showing it is likely he will garner some interest from other clubs.In either case his salary expectations should still be reasonable.
Potential: Based on his showing last season and his ability to step in and play, Wrotto may be in the running for a starting gig somewhere next season. It stands to be noted that during his time with the Seahawks Wrotto was able to glean wisdom from Future Hall of Fame Left Tackle Walter Jones. For a raw player like Wrotto this is infinitely useful and could manifest in improving his production on the field.
Final Verdict: Wrotto appears to be a rising player. He still has a bit of a way to go, but the ability to play in a system that he is familiar with gives him the edge over a player the Bills could find of comparable cost,talent and ability. Wrotto should be retained on a short term contract.
Summary: As one of a handful of Liberian players in the NFL, Youboty, like his teammate Mansfield Wrotto, has to be seen as a symbol of national pride in his homeland. However, in Buffalo Youboty has done little to evoke warm and fuzzy feelings after being an early round pick in 2006. Youboty has registered 7 total starts and 1 interception over a the span of a five year career.
Past Achievements: His best season was in 2007 where he had 3 starts and 23 tackles.
Salary Demands: Youboty is not likely to field offers much higher than the yet to be decided veterans minimum.
Potential: Youboty has shown his potential is limited, and for a player who will be 27 when the 2011 season starts(if it does) it is highly likely we've seen the best he has to offer.
Final Verdict: It is likely the Bills will be able to find a better corner in the draft or free agency, Youboty should look for a new job with the Carolina Panthers or perhaps the Kansas City Chiefs.
Summary: While Brohm is a restricted Free-Agent he is included on this list based on the fact that retaining him is an equally important decision. Based on his status the Bills can make the rest of their roster decisions and then decide what to do with him.
Past Achievements: Brohm had an illustrious collegiate career, which at some points had him projected as an early first round pick. There was even a point at which he drew comparisons to Jim Kelly http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/10538767 . Perhaps following suit he even wore Kelly's number 12 in college.
Salary Demands: Brian, possibly thankful for the Bills giving him a shot after his lackluster performances with the Packers, may give the Bills a hometown discount, if they want to keep him around.
Potential: While its not quite safe to say that Brohm hasn't got a fair shake, as he has had two starts under his belt, his inability to beat out Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick speaks volumes about his challenges as a professional. That being said, the man has some serious talent, he's just been really good at hiding it for his entire professional career. Out of the Quarterbacks on the Bills current roster Brohm has the highest ceiling.
Final Verdict: It is time to let Brohm find his way with a different team. Despite his potential he is not the best fit for a Gailey offense and the Bills will likely bring in a QB during the draft or in Free Agency. His best bet is to catch on with a team like Colts, 49ers or Patriots.