Bills' Biggest Keys to Having Successful NFL Offseason

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2021

Bills' Biggest Keys to Having Successful NFL Offseason

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills do not have to make too many changes to their roster this offseason, but there are a few areas that could help them close the gap on the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC. 

    Buffalo is not expected to make a blockbuster trade, like it did for Stefon Diggs in 2020, but it does need to figure out its depth behind the No. 1 wide receiver. 

    Some of the older wideouts on the roster are on large contracts that could end early to save some salary-cap room.

    Defensively, the Bills need to figure out what they are doing with free-agent linebacker Matt Milano, who may be looking to test the open market, according to AP NFL

    If Buffalo fails to retain its top linebacker from 2020, it either needs to dip into the free-agent market or utilize a draft pick to find a more affordable player in the middle of defense. 

Figure Out Wide Receiver Depth

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    Brett Carlsen/Associated Press

    Diggs' name is written in thick Sharpie on the top of the Bills wide receiver depth chart. 

    However, the list of names beneath him can be organized in any number of ways. Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, John Brown and Isaiah McKenzie all contributed in some fashion in 2020. 

    Davis' development as a rookie could convince the Bills to shed some of the more expensive contracts they have at the position. The UCF product finished with 599 receiving yards in the regular season, which was third on the team behind Diggs and Beasley. 

    In his age-32 season, Beasley could be on the decline, especially if the recovery from a broken fibula hurts his effectiveness as a slot wideout across the middle. If the Bills release him, they would save close to $10 million over the next two years and only have a dead-cap hit of $4.5 million. 

    Brown is an even better candidate for a release since he would only cost the Bills $1.6 million in dead cap and save them $7.9 million.

    If Davis continues his progression, he could be a solid No. 2 option behind Diggs, which would then ease the pressure on the front office to find an offensive playmaker in the offseason. 

    In that situation, the Bills could either draft a wideout in the middle rounds to develop in the same mold as Davis or find a veteran depth piece to ensure Josh Allen's continued success at quarterback.

Work out a Deal for Matt Milano

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    According to John Wawrow of the Associated Press, Milano "will explore free agency next month because of Buffalo's salary-cap constraints." 

    The 26-year-old's totals over the last two seasons may see him command a large sum on the open market that the Bills can't pay afford. He earned his first 100-tackle season in 2019 and picked up a career-best 3.5 sacks despite playing in only 10 games last season. 

    At the moment, the Bills have $1 million in projected cap space to work with, but that figure could fluctuate depending on the personnel moves they make in the coming weeks. 

    A potential return from Milano would be a major boost for the middle of the Buffalo defense, and his presence could make Brown, Beasley and others more susceptible to releases to make more space. 

    Losing Milano will be a blow to the Bills defense, but the team could find a replacement through one of its early draft picks or on a cheaper deal than the Boston College product commands in free agency. 

    With the 30th overall pick, the AFC East side could target Texas' Joseph Ossai or Missouri's Nick Bolton at linebacker. Tulsa's Zaven Collins and Georgia's Azeez Ojulari may be gone before that selection. 

    The Buffalo front office should be trusted with its draft capital since they landed Zack Moss, Tre'Davious White, Josh Allen and others with early picks in the last four years. 

Surround Josh Allen with More Offensive Weapons

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Buffalo is not starved for offensive playmakers, but it is lacking a bit in all-around star power when compared to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

    Allen has a superstar No. 1 wideout in Diggs to work with, and Davis could turn into a reliable second option, but there are some questions behind them.

    At running back and tight end, the Bills need to more production to keep pace with whatever the Chiefs put on the gridiron to support Patrick Mahomes. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss combined for 1,168 rushing yards in the 2020 season, but they had two fewer ground scores than Allen, who led the team with eight. 

    Dawson Knox only showed up in spurts throughout the season, as he brought in 24 of his 44 targets and scored three times. 

    Buffalo likely won't find a Travis Kelce-type tight end anywhere in the offseason, but it could chase Hunter Henry if it opens up enough cap space. Gerald Everett and Jonnu Smith could also be under consideration. 

    If the Bills upgrade at tight end, add one or two wideouts and work with the running backs to improve, they could have a more complete offense to challenge the Chiefs next postseason. 


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.

    Contract information obtained from Over The Cap.