The Buffalo Bills just completed their most successful season in 20 years, going 13-3 and making the AFC Championship game.
As with any team that loses in the playoffs or doesn’t make it at all, we now shift our focus to free agency and the draft. The Bills have one of the more complete teams in the entire NFL with no glaring needs anywhere, really.
But, there are still things to be done as with any team, and here are two small things Buffalo needs to get done if they want to challenge Kansas City again next year.
GET A PREMIER PASS-RUSHER
The Bills have a great defensive coaching staff and proved that even without a star pass-rusher they can manage, see the Baltimore game.
But, against the Colts they were unable to even breathe on Philip Rivers who can’t move more than a foot while in the pocket. Even against the Chiefs where the Bills got pressure they had to bring extra guys which left the Chiefs weapons with too much space.
So, who should they get? If Buffalo is serious about getting one of these guys they have two clear options.
The first is JJ Watt. Speculation already started with Watt a few days ago when it was reported his days in Houston may be done. Although he has only four sacks and is heading into his age 32 season, he still posted 29 pressures and 17 QB hits. Also, he will demand attention from offenses which will open the other side up for the Bills other pass-rushers. He also may only require a second round pick or possibly a third plus other late rounders. Trading for an aging veteran with injury problems isn’t always ideal, but he’s still a proven player.
The second guy is Danielle Hunter. This would be this year’s Stefan Diggs. The 26-year-old, who plays for Minnesota, is one of the best rushers in the league. He missed this entire season with a neck injury, which isn’t ideal, but he just posted back-to-back seasons with 14.5 sacks. He also added 38 and 36 pressures in those seasons which were among the tops in the league. So, how would this guy even be available?
Well Minnesota signed him early so his deal is very team friendly. There have been reports he wants a new contract and if he doesn’t get one he will demand a trade. The Vikings have no cap room at all, and even after cutting some guys they will have no cap room. The plan for them is to tell him they’ll give him one in 2022 when they have the money, but if he doesn’t want to wait, he’ll be on the market.
For Buffalo to do this it would have to part with the first round pick again, plus other picks. But Beane did it last season, could he do it again?
GET A RUNNING BACK
Judging players after their first season is always risky, but Zack Moss seems more like a capable backup than a 1,000 yard guy. Devin Singletary is also sort of the same player.
Part of what killed the Bills is the absence of the running game. They had no running threat at all, which can’t happen. If you look at Green Bay and Kansas City, they’re like Buffalo where it’s a pass-heavy offense but defenses still have to plan for Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Aaron Jones.
Buffalo needs that. So how? Going with another late round running back seems out of the question after doing it twice the last two drafts.
Now, people vary on picking one in the first round, but the Bills pick No. 30, so picking a back might be more…justified. This back class is not as good as past years, with only two top runners and then a huge dropoff.
Najee Harris would be ideal and a perfect fit, but he might not be available at that pick. Travis Etienne would be the other option, who would also be a good fit and showed his hands off when he caught 48 passes at Clemson this last season.
Buffalo doesn’t have a ton of cap room, and after cutting guys who knows what that opens up in terms of money, but someone like Aaron Jones (a free agent) is probably not happening which is why the draft is the best course for this.
These are just some names to keep an eye out for as it’s still not even the offseason yet, and they could be wrong or Buffalo goes in a completely different direction, but these are at least positions to look out for in this off-season.
Buffalo is in a great position but these two groups seem in need of the biggest upgrade.