In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Tuesday morning GM Doug Whaley addressed the prospect of pursuing a veteran free agent pass rusher or receiver in light of the recent offseason surgeries for Shaq Lawson and Sammy Watkins.
Whaley said at this point they haven’t made contact with those veteran free agents, though he wouldn’t rule anything out.
“We always keep our options open. We never say never,” said Whaley. “We haven’t reached out and contacted anybody right now. We’re looking at the development of the guys we have on the roster and some of the young guys. But we always keep our options open and our pro personnel department headed by Rob Hanrahan, those guys always keep me abreast of who is out there and we continually update what we call our short list.”
When asked specifically about Boldin, Whaley again reiterated that they want to see how some of the youth on their roster comes along during spring practices.
“We want to see what we have and the development of the guys on the roster in the OTAs,” he said. “Guys like that we look at as consummate professionals. They’re always going to be in shape and if the time comes where we think the guys aren’t progressing like we need them to that’s when you look at a guy like Anquan Boldin or a Dwight Freeney, but right now we want to develop some young guys with an eye on the future saying those guys are out there if for needs sake we need to pick them up.”
It’s clear that Whaley believes time is on his side before the need may arise to make a move of this nature. When you’re trying to develop young players you don’t want to steal reps from them with a vet and delay their improvement.
There is a report that Freeney had a workout scheduled with the Bengals today.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Doug Whaley, Dwight Freeney, NFL free agency
Posted in Inside the Bills
1 – @ChrisBrownBills Why haven’t Bills looked at Anquan Boldin as he seems to fit what they need a WR. Thanks!
CB: I think there could be a number of issues at play here. First, Boldin, though productive last season (69 rec. 789 yds, 4 TDs) is 35-years old. Second, and probably more important is the Bills are probably in a position where they could only offer a veteran receiver the league minimum, and with Boldin a 10-plus year player he would cost $985K. As accomplished as Boldin is I don’t know if he would play a 14th NFL season for that.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Bills have any interest in Dwight Freeney or Greg Hardy?
joseph tadak @jt9591
CB: I don’t see Greg Hardy as a realistic option due to his off the field issues. No one else seems all that interested either. I understand fans trying to connect the dots to a veteran to fill the potential void left by Shaq Lawson’s surgery, which will probably keep him out for a portion of the first half of the season.
I wonder how much of a commitment the Bills would want to make to a stop gap solution. If they were to sign Freeney and he was on the roster beyond Week 1 his contract would be guaranteed even if they released him once Lawson returned to the roster.
I don’t know if that’s a good call for someone who would be a part-time player (pass rush specialist).
3 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you see Gilmore or Taylor getting extended before season, during season, or after if at all?
Grayson Tumult @GraysonTumult
CB: I believe the likelihood of a new deal for Gilmore before/during the season is greater than Taylor. The reason why is the Bills probably want to see Taylor take the next step in his development during the season. Then if they have to back up the Brinks truck to keep him after the season is over, so be it.
The reason Gilmore’s deal will probably take a bit longer is because Washington threw the whole cornerback market out of whack with their contract for Josh Norman ($15M/yr.) after Carolina rescinded his franchise tag, making him a free agent.
With Norman at age 28 getting $15M per year and he’s largely a zone coverage corner, it makes it difficult for Buffalo to negotiate with Gilmore’s camp when he’s 27 and plays a more demanding role at corner as he’s often in man-to-man.
I think top 10 cornerback money is realistic for Gilmore. Top five money might be a different story, and if the Gilmore camp is looking for that it could make for a longer negotiation.
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Any real worries with Watkins foot? Similar to Dez foot injury that kept him out all year?
jason plunkett @j_plunk
CB: First, Dez Bryant did not miss the whole year. He injured the foot in Week 1 and missed the next six weeks. The Cowboys rushed him back and he struggled through the rest of the season, but suited up and played in eight of the last nine games.
I expect the Bills to go to school on how things played out with Bryant and Julian Edelman for that matter, who also needed a second surgery because he came back too soon in the playoffs.
I’m not a doctor, but based on what I’ve read, Watkins’ Jones fracture, a common injury for NFL wide receivers, usually takes longer to heal (8-12 weeks) than most fractures (six weeks) because the blood supply to that area of the foot isn’t as good as other parts of the body. That’s why the surgery has a screw inserted in that area to promote the healing of the bone.
The Cowboys tried to get Bryant back in six weeks and it was too soon. That’s why I think even though Sammy Watkins will be right around the 12-week mark at the start of training camp I would not expect to see him do much of anything on the field until the second full week of camp at the earliest.
And even then it will be a slow and steady process. Yes, reps with his quarterback are important, but most important is Watkins’ availability on Sundays in September. If the process is rushed risk of re-injury increases.
Being patient with a player of his caliber is difficult for fans, but the payoff is he’ll be less likely to run into future problems with the foot during the season.
5 – Chris,
Last year’s defense was a disappointment. Veteran players could not fully adapt to this complicated front seven scheme then play at a high level. Also, expectations turned out to be unrealistically high.
Is there any way 3 rookies can leap to the NFL, play in this same defensive front, simplified or not, and have success? Or do we need to start managing expectations now to avoid more disappointment?
CB: From what I have been able to gather Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman have reduced the number of checks pre-snap on defensive play calls for this season knowing the problem it presented last season. Whether they’ve found the happy balance between remaining unpredictable while allowing their players to play fast remains to be seen, but the effort was made to make execution of the defensive system easier for the players.
As for the rookies, Adolphus Washington’s position doesn’t require as much pre-snap adjustment as Reggie Ragland or Shaq Lawson. Ragland doesn’t have to run the defense, that will be on Preston Brown, but as GM Doug Whaley mentioned the scheme Ragland ran at Alabama is very similar to that of Buffalo’s defense. Ragland has said there’s a lot of carryover that’s a plus.
Lawson might have the toughest time adjusting knowing he’s likely to miss the offseason practices and some time in the first half of the season. Not having those physical reps could make it hard on the top pick to assimilate himself into the defense.
Tags: Adolphus Washington, Anquan Boldin, Doug Whaley, Dwight Freeney, Fan Friday, NFL free agency, Reggie Ragland, Sammy Watkins, Shaw Lawson, Stephon Gilmore, Tyrod Taylor
Posted in Inside the Bills
Another week of your questions with the NFL Combine on the horizon next week. Be sure to follow Buffalobills.com for full coverage from Indianapolis beginning next Wednesday. For now here’s this week’s edition with questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.
1 – Hey Chris,
I was just wondering if the Bills will get any compensatory picks in the draft this year and if so what round? I’m thinking maybe one for the loss of Levitre and even maybe the loss of Rhinehart?
Tommy of Pittsford
CB: Unfortunately it looks like the Bills will not be getting anything by way of compensatory picks this year. As I blogged this week, the main criteria that a team needs to fill to even qualify for a compensatory pick is to have a net loss of free agents. Buffalo is even on free agents from last offseason in terms of the signings and losses that qualify under the league’s formula. They lost Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart and signed Alan Branch and Manny Lawson.
Now knowing the league has to hand out 32 total compensatory picks, the size of Levitre’s contract would’ve made Buffalo eligible for what’s called a ‘net value pick,’ but with a lot of free agent player movement last year it’s anticipated that all 32 compensatory picks awarded this March will be for free agent players lost.
2 – Dear Chris,
Thanks for all the work you and your staff does to keep Bills fans informed, My question is about the upcoming free agency, who do you think the bills might bring in on offense, defense and special teams to help the bills get back to the playoffs next year?
Also, just wondering about Brandon Coleman from Rutgers, is he eligible for the draft this year or is he a year or two away? Also do you think that when he enters the draft do you think that the bills might keep Stevie around and pair him with Coleman and Goodwin, because I watched tape on Coleman and to me he seems like a perennial deep threat and a lot of defenses might have trouble containing him especially if he gets open down field?
Thanks for all your work, Chris from Upstate NY
CB: I think Bills GM Doug Whaley has made it clear that they will not pursue the big ticket free agents. You want to look at free agents who can come in and be either a solid starter or role players much like what we saw last year with Alan Branch and Manny Lawson.
As for Brandon Coleman, while his size is appealing to what the Bills need to add to their receiving corps, I don’t know that he’s the full package Buffalo is looking for. He has some intriguing qualities, but one that he lacks is physical toughness, which hurts him in getting off press coverage.
Now that can be improved with good coaching, but with some elements of his game needing development I think he’s a mid-round pick.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Buffalo looked for a veteran free agent receiver first before looking for a size receiver in the draft.
3 – Hey Chris,
The Bills in my mind took nice steps to becoming a playoff team, but there are still areas on concern. The areas I have identified has needs are as follows, RG, OLB, RT, WR, CB. The Bills should definitely try their hardest to bring back Byrd and Chandler. If they do that then it sets them up perfectly in the draft to take playmakers. I have always felt that the draft is the best place to find playmakers. With that said do you feel like the Bills can fix most of their problems through free agency? I also know a lot of people that would love to see Sammy Watkins in a Bills uniform, any chance the Bills go with a playmaker in the 1st round?
Josh, Syracuse, NY
CB: I think some of your positional areas of concern are valid mostly notably LB, OL and WR. As I said above it would not surprise me if they look to try and land an affordable veteran receiver before turning to the draft.
I still do not believe Sammy Watkins will reach the Bills at ninth overall in round one. Even if he somehow slips out of the top five I would expect to see another team trade into the top 10 to get him. Now if the perfect storm unfolds and he is sitting there for Buffalo at nine it would be supremely difficult for the Bills to pass on him.
4 – Hi Chris,
There has been plenty of talk around OBD about getting a big wr. Do you think the Bills could target a wr that has character issues but great talent. Specifically Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt? Another name that would seem possible is Emmanuel Sanders with Whaley’s Pittsburgh ties. I know coach Marrone has said they have in house talent but I find that hard to believe that would be their top option going into the off-season.
CB: I think the injury concerns surrounding Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Britt compromise their attractiveness. Consistency with both players is also an issue. I don’t know that Sanders is much of an upgrade either.
Personally I’d prefer a proven veteran that can provide instant impact while the young players continue to develop and mature. I know he’s 33, but I wouldn’t mind Anquan Boldin on a two-year deal. He plays bigger than his height and would instantly be the most physical receiver on the roster and can still produce. Green Bay’s James Jones (29) is another player with a physical game, who can make plays and may prosper with a larger role.
5 – Dear Chris,
Nearly 100 underclassmen have declared for the draft this year. Players that might have been 6th or 7th round selections in previous years won’t be selected this year because of the larger than usual group of available ranked players. This is an opportunity for the Bills to scoop up good players if they can beat other GMs to them after the draft. My question is this; I’ve heard the team “priority free agent”. What does that mean? Is there a standard contract that all teams give to undrafted players that can be sweetened if a team has a special interest in one of the undrafteds? If so, are teams restricted in the number of sweetened contracts they can offer to these players? Finally, do you see the Bills being aggressive in this market?
CB: The term ‘priority free agent’ is just a classification by draftniks to indicate a prospect who probably won’t be drafted, but will be a highly sought after college free agent by NFL teams. Yes, teams have the ability to sweeten an undrafted free agent contract for a player they highly covet. That usually comes in the form of signing bonus money.
The Bills are usually very aggressive in this market. How persistent and how much they are willing to raise the signing bonus money to land one usually depends on how much they value the prospect. It’s a case by case basis.
Tags: 2014 NFL draft, Anquan Boldin, Brandon Coleman, compensatory picks, Doug Whaley, Fan Friday, James Jones, NFL free agency, undrafted college free agents
Posted in Inside the Bills
Fan Friday 12-5
Here’s the latest rundown of questions posed by you the fan. You can always e-mail me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. I try to answer each and every question, if not personally in this blog. Let’s get rolling.
1. At the end of a game and in critical situations, who makes the offensive play calls? Is it Turk or Jauron?
CB: I don’t know exactly how it works specifically with Schonert and coach Jauron. In a lot of cases the head coach will have a ‘check with me’ policy in crunch time. A lot of times a head coach will be in a coordinator’s ear where he’ll tell him any number of things from, ‘Run it again’ to ‘you’ve got two downs here because we’ll go for it on fourth down if necessary.’ But head coaches don’t often tell a coordinator what specific play to call. They like to have their coordinator feel like he has he freedom to call the game the way he feels comfortable. Otherwise why did you hire the guy to begin with?
I was curious of what direction you think the team will take with the following free agents:
Angelo Crowell (has this ship sailed when the team placed him on IR ?)
Melvin Fowler (Lost his starting job to Preston, can he handle the big 3-4 NT?)
Duke Preston (He’s done well the last few games, at the very least a valuable back up)
Jabari Greer (Has developed into a very good corner, also one we won’t be able to afford)
CB: I would be surprised if Crowell is back in light of how his whole injury situation/surgery decision went down at the beginning of the season. I don’t anticipate him being back because that situation did not appear to go amiably.
Melvin Fowler I think is another player that doesn’t stand a good chance of being re-signed. I think Preston is a possibility, but I believe the team will find quality competition for him at center whether it’s in the draft or in free agency.
As for Greer, I don’t think his contract demands will be up in the stratosphere like Nate Clements were. They might be able to work something out, but if he hits the open market it will be much more difficult.
3. Hi Chris,
I’m a Bills fan stranded in Phoenix. Anquan Boldin is keeping quiet for now but has not changed his mind about wanting out of AZ. I have dreams of seeing him line up opposite Lee Evans- what a Christmas present that would be !
If I were GM I’d offer the Cards a #1 pick plus James Hardy, McCargo (if they are interested), and their choice of Kelsay or Denney. I might even dangle Jabari Greer if he’s not interested in signing an extension w/ the Bills.
AZ has been getting by with journeyman CBs Hood & Green and would like an upgrade- they also need an upgrade over aging and injury prone DE Bertrand Berry.
James Hardy would be a reasonable replacement at WR with Steve Breaston moving into Boldin’s slot.
If you don’t think I’m offering enough, keep in mind Boldin wants to get paid what Fitzgerald is making and I don’t think AZ can afford to tie up so much of their salary cap in 2 WRs. And the Bidwells are ALWAYS looking to pinch pennies.
What do you think?
CB: Well there’s no question that you’ve thought this through. Unfortunately the problem that the Cardinals have in keeping Boldin happy ($$$$), is the same problem any other team would have in acquiring him. He’d likely want a new deal for considerably more money and since his career numbers are better than Evans, he’d probably want more than him.
I just don’t seeing that flying in Buffalo. So as much as I like your dream, I think you’re going to have to keep dreaming.
4. Do you think now that Turk is calling plays from upstairs it will help the Bills offense and maybe get a better view of what defenses are trying to do?”
Mike from Williamsport, PA
CB: That’s what he seems to think after I spoke to him following the Chiefs game outside the locker room. Most coaches say they can more definitively see what is unfolding with respect to defensive coverages or offensive formations depending on which side of the ball the coordinator is in charge of. That should translate into quicker play calls and more effective counter punches. It’s been two weeks and the results have been very different from on the field from one game to the next. We’ll see how things work in the last four games.
5. Any news on their prospects for Schobel, Whitner and Greer returning?
Also, what are your thoughts on the play of Ko Simpson? On the surface he appears to be soft & late in pass coverage and has looked out of position on several of the long runs the team has given up.
CB: Schobel is not playing this week. He practiced fully according to Dick Jauron on Wednesday and Thursday, but in the brief time we watch practice, he did not look game ready. The good news is he won’t need surgery.
Whitner should play on Sunday (he’s questionable) and Greer (out) is probably a week or so away. As for Ko Simpson I think the organization was expecting he would be making more plays at this point in his career. That’s why Donte Whitner has been steadily transitioned to free safety.
Tags: Aaron Schobel, Angelo Crowell, Anquan Boldin, Dick Jauron, Donte Whitner, Duke Preston, Fan Friday, Jabari Greer, James Hardy, Ko Simpson, Melvin Fowler, Turk Schonert
Posted in Inside the Bills
According to Kurt Warner’s wife Brenda (courtesy of Yahoo sports), the Arizona Cardinals QB almost retired following the Jets game after floating that late game pass to Anquan Boldin that left him motionless on the field after taking that monster hit from the Jets’ Eric Smith.
It apparently made him re-assess his priorities and he was going to retire. Perhaps it was a knee jerk reaction after witnessing a horrific hit and what appeared to be a career and possibly life altering injury, and after taking time to gather his thoughts, he obviously decided otherwise.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner
Posted in Inside the Bills