Inside The Bills

TE Scaife could be franchised

Posted by Chris Brown on February 19, 2009 – 2:46 pm

The Tennessee Titans appeared poised to put the franchise tag on TE Bo Scaife effectively taking him off the free agent market.

NFL Network’s Adam Schefter is reporting that it’s likely to happen.

That would effectively take one of the better tight end options off the market. Scaife has developed into a viable commodity at the TE position.

Whether the Bills choose to address their tight end position in free agency or the draft remains to be seen, but it looks like there will be one fewer option.


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Fan Friday 2-13

Posted by Chris Brown on February 13, 2009 – 4:14 pm

Fan Friday 2-13

More free agency and NFL draft queries in this week’s edition. A reminder that I’ll be at the NFL Combine next week as Buffalobills.com provides daily coverage from Feb. 19th to Feb. 22nd. I’ll see if there’s a way to find time to answer a few more questions next week.

1. Chris,
I know the Bills need a center and drafting one, even in the first round, will still take time to develop. I was wondering if you know what happened to LeCharles Bentley.  He hurt his knee after signing with the Cleveland Browns a couple years ago and I believe he was out of football this past year. He was one of the top centers in football when Cleveland signed him away from New Orleans. Do you think he is on the Bills radar?
Thanks,
Lawrence

CB: I think if there was an interest in Bentley he would have been signed by now. Bentley recently opened an offensive linemen training academy for high school and college players in the Cleveland area. He was a Pro Bowl caliber center, but apparently NFL teams are too scared off by the three surgeries on his knee in two years. When a guy with that kind of talent is still not on a roster, it’s an indication of what NFL clubs think of his knee. It’s a risk-reward thing and apparently NFL teams think the risk is too high.

2. Chris: Do you think the Bills give any thought to where a player has played in college (warm weather vs. cold)? I went to the last regular season game and was very upset with the number of players who had coats on and I was also upset with Stroud saying he couldn’t wait to get back to Florida. What do you think?
Nev1983

CB: First, I don’t recall Stroud saying that. I think where a player plays geographically is given consideration, particularly at QB, but it is not the end all, be all when putting a final grade on a player. If there’s a supremely talented player that falls into your lap, you don’t discard him because he played his college ball in Mississippi, for example. The SEC conference is widely considered to be the most talented in college football, and not many players down there are from the great white north. You can’t dismiss them because of the weather they played in though I respect your frustration.

3. Early in the year when Leodis got an opportunity to return kicks he wasn’t very impressive.  He seemed to be stutter stepping quite a bit, trying to feel his way.  Then all of the sudden, BAM, he’s electrifying, a threat to take every kick the distance.  My question is, did Bobby April or someone else on the staff sit down with him and if they did what kind of conversation was it?  Did someone tell McKelvin to trust his instincts?  Did they tell him to return the kick as the play is designed?  A light seemed to turn on for him and I’m interested in understanding why.
 
John Niche
 
CB: What most people overlook is not only was McKelvin new to the kick return unit, but so were a host of the players blocking for him. The young, inexperienced return team members were also getting accustomed to Bobby April’s scheme, and if you looked at the unit’s progress collectively you saw them getting closer and closer to busting a big return with each passing week. A lot of fans forget McKelvin’s 85-yard return at the end of the game at New England that almost went for a score. Things were already coming together before his big Monday Night return.

On McKelvin’s return against Cleveland he was not touched by one Browns coverage player. That’s impressive work. McKelvin was a big reason why they finished 2nd in the league in kick return, but those young blockers in front of him progressed in the same fashion that he did leading to an explosion of success.

4. Chris~
Why have Flacco and Ryan had such early success as rookies verses Edwards in his second year? Are the supporting casts at Baltimore and Atlanta that much better? or are they just better than Trent?  I recognize that Baltimore has the defense which takes pressure to score away, while Atlanta has the running game that also is a friend to a quarterback. The game doesn’t seem to be too big for them, but sometimes it seems that it is for Trent. Things that concern me about Trent are his durability, and I’ve read where he has a shoulder problem going back to college?. Do you think he was the same after his concussion? He really seemed to be afraid to make throws after that, especially down field.
Just curious what you think,
Thank you,
 
Brian
 
CB: I think a lot of it has to do with the level of college experience that both Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco had. Both were fifth-year seniors with close to 35 college starts under their belts. They also each had solid talent around them, which allowed them to make more things happen. Delaware is a perennial power in 1-AA. Ryan had the benefit of playing big time bowl games each year. Now Trent did have 31 starts in his college career so he had time on the field, but I feel his development was hurt by the level of talent around him, particularly his offensive line, which was never good his entire college career. That led to injuries.

It also prevented him from playing in bowl games at the end of each season, which is when the stakes are raised and you’re as close as you’re going to get to an NFL atmosphere.

Now on the NFL level I think talent is somewhat of an issue for Edwards compared to Ryan and Flacco. Ryan had a Pro Bowl caliber receiver in Roddy White and a RB that got the ball so much that defenses had to respect Michael Turner. Flacco had a solid run game behind him too and did not have to do much with a dominant defense that could control field position and keep opponents off the scoreboard.

Edwards has Evans and Lynch, which I believe you can argue are comparable to what Ryan has in Atlanta so I respect your argument.

I think seeing how Trent was injured in each of his first two NFL seasons, it’s not unreasonable for you to question his durability. His throwing shoulder was simple end of season soreness, so there is no concern there long term.   

Who is better? I don’t think I’m ready to answer that question yet. I need to see another season of Trent before passing judgment, which based on your stance might already provide you with your opinion.

5. Chris,
 
My question is with McCargo wearing out his welcome in Buffalo, what is your gut feeling on how the Bills will address the 4th tackle spot? Surely the Bills aren’t going to carry only 3 DTs are they? Corey Mace might be a hard worker but lets be honest we need to stop with the small hustle guys who are nice undrafted stories and actually get a run plugger to pair with Stroud.

Thanks,
Brian

CB: I believe that the fourth DT spot is one the team will be looking to upgrade, but there are priorities that I feel come ahead of it. Pass rushing DE, C, OLB, pass catching TE are all of greater importance as I see it.

However, I will say that if there is no good value on the draft board at 11 at any of those positions aside from center, and a DT like Boston College’s B.J. Raji is still on the board, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them grab him at 11. Otherwise they’ll likely grab one in the middle rounds.

6. Chris,
 
What are the chances that the Bills would go after Owen Daniels??

Robert Murphy

CB: I think first we have to see at what tender the Texans choose to use on Daniels, who is a restricted free agent. It’s unlikely they use the low tender. I expect Houston to use the high tender ($2.198M), which would give the Texans a first-round pick if they chose not to match any offer sheet he receives from the team that signs him. If that’s the case I think most teams including the Bills would be scared off.

Even if he’s given a second-round tender ($1.545M) I think the Bills would be reluctant to pursue him. The deadline to tender RFAs is Feb. 26.

The other thing that frustrates NFL front office men with restricted free agents is you can spend so much time on an offer sheet for an RFA, and if the original club chooses to match, you did all that work for nothing.

I personally like unrestricted free agent Bo Scaife (Tenn) for the tight end need.


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Scaife expected to hit FA market

Posted by Chris Brown on February 5, 2009 – 2:37 pm

It’s looking more and more like Titans FA TE Bo Scaife is going to hit the free agent market come Feb. 27. Personally I like Scaife’s game. He’s a reliable receiver with some game breaking ability.

Scaife is very athletic, but has enough strength to be used on the line, though that is not necessarily his best attribute. But what the Bills need is another outlet that’s as reliable for Trent Edwards as Josh Reed.

I think Scaife can be that and he’s not going to blow up your budget. The highest paid tight end in football is Tony Gonzalez and he’s the only guy at TE in the league that made over $5M last year. I think you should be able to land Scaife for $3 to $3.5M per season, though with a thin TE market it’s possible he could be looking for more ($4M).

I don’t know if I’d want to go that high for him, but the guy led the Titans in receiving last season, has playoff experience and offers much coveted receiving prowess and athleticism. I hope he’s at least considered by the Bills because Buffalo needs to add experience to their receiving corps instead of more youth in my opinion.


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Fan Friday 1-30

Posted by Chris Brown on January 30, 2009 – 6:47 pm

Not surprisingly, free agency and the draft are dominating the questions I’m getting at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Feel free to submit a question if you have one. Here we go.

1. Chris, 
        I have read before that Bill Parcells in the late 90′s (while with the Jets) brought in Kevin Mawae to stop Ted Washington when we ran the 3-4 defense.  I thought that was interesting to build your team to stop or beat particular players in your division and not necessarily always filling holes on your team. What are your thoughts on this?

CB: I think when there are players of Ted Washington’s caliber that can be disruptive up front at a certain position on a division opponent you have to make it a top priority. There’s no question the Bills are facing a similar situation knowing they’re going to see Vince Wilfork and Kris Jenkins twice a year, every year, and to a lesser extent Jason Ferguson. Center might be a higher priority for Buffalo than any other team in football in light of the teams they have to face in their division. So taking a similar approach to what Parcells did with the Jets would be wise, but is the right free agent answer out there?

As I’ve said before I’d be willing to sign Matt Birk (Minn.) to a two-year deal and groom a young replacement behind him (draft pick). That being said I’d probably re-sign Duke Preston as well. Baltimore’s Jason Brown is another option. He holds his ground a bit better than Duke, but he’s not any more athletic as I see it.

 

2. Dear Chris,
Hardy’s injury was rough on the receiving corps. Any chance of trading up for Crabtree?
                                                                                                                               
Sincerely,
Zubbaz Wearer
 
CB: James Hardy’s injury will be something that has to be addressed, even though Steve Johnson came on strong at season’s end. I think a one or two-year deal for a veteran free agent like Amani Toomer would be the best move. It takes the pressure off Hardy to come back quickly and make an impact this year, which I think will be difficult. And it provides the receiving corps with a player that has been there and done that along with Evans and Reed. While Crabtree is enticing, I just don’t think another young wideout is the answer, particularly with a host of other positional needs.

 

3. Hey Chris,

Just taking a look at the draft this year.  Do you think either Everette Brown or Aaron Maybin would fit in the 4-3 and do you think (or know) if the Bills would be inclined to take either of these DEs?

-Anand

CB: I think Everette Brown is capable of playing in a 4-3 at the NFL level. I’m less sure about Maybin. Brown is a guy I like a lot. Most mock drafts right now don’t have him coming off the board in the top half of round one, but I like what I’ve seen.

I’ll try to do a little more homework on Brown to see if there are off the field issues or knocks on his game, but what I see on tape is pretty darn good stuff. I still need to see more of Maybin, but all indications are that he projects more to an OLB in 3-4 at the NFL level.

 

4. Hey Chris,
            I have been reading and a lot of people think that the Bills need to draft a TE to help open up there passing game, but what about free agency?  I believe the bills should pick up a DE in the draft with our first round pick, and then get our TE from free agency.  What do you think about L.J Smith being a realistic option for us?
-Anthony McClure

CB: I think there is a need to add a dynamic pass catching tight end and L.J. Smith has been that in his career. However, his injuries have become alarmingly frequent and I think he’s a very old 29. I think despite his talent, he’s too high risk to sign and expect him to change the face of your passing game. In free agency it’s pretty thin. The only attractive pass catching options are Tennessee’s Bo Scaife and RFA Owen Daniels (Houston). The draft might be the way to go, though I’m hesitant to add more youth.

 

5. Hey Chris,
 
For the upcoming draft I have a few scenarios that the Bills could pursue. Do you see them trading up to guarantee a guy like Orakpo from Texas? I also have them trading their first round pick for the Philadelphia Eagles 2 first round pick selections where they can draft a TE and C?
 
Artur
Toronto, Canada

CB: I think it’s very unlikely that the Bills would move into the top 10 to secure almost any player because it costs an awful lot to move up that high in the draft even from 11, and the top 10 is where the money really gets ridiculous for rookies. I expect the Bills will have a top 3 candidate pool for their first pick and hope one is still there at 11.

Either way they’re virtually guaranteed to get an impact player at that spot. If however, none of their top three choices are there at 11, I believe it’s reasonable to think they would explore moving down as you suggested.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

TE option?

Posted by Chris Brown on January 16, 2009 – 5:26 pm

Bo Scaife isn’t exactly a name that gets a lot of Bills fans excited, but the guy’s numbers have improved each year and he’s an ambitious player that wants to be an all-around talent at tight end. 

Scaife led the Titans in receiving this past season and really took a leap forward in his fourth-year as a player. He’s also in that age range that the Bills typically find attractive in a free agent. Not saying he’s the end all, be all answer, just an option.

Here’s a good take on Scaife the player from the Tennessean’s Gary Estwick, who covers the Titans on a regular basis.


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Fan Friday 1-16

Posted by Chris Brown on January 16, 2009 – 4:54 pm

Here’s the latest installment of Fan Friday. As most of you know by now you can email your questions to me at AskChris@bills.nfl.net. I try to respond to everyone either personally or here on Fan Friday.

1. Chris,    
     Do you think the Bills will sign a veteran QB in the off-season.  I realize that Trent has not done terrible job, but he has not exactly done a good job.  It seems like the game is moving too fast for him still and he doesn’t anticipate his receivers, he waits for them to be open, then throws it, and by the time the ball gets there the window is already closed.  Also, I wonder if he’s the long term solution for this team considering he’s always nicked up and doesn’t play well in cold weather.  Please tell me this team is going to get a play maker at QB like McNabb, Bills fans need some hope after this season.

CB: I don’t think a playmaker like Donovan McNabb is realistic because those kinds of players are usually not out on the free agent market. You usually have to give up something significant for that kind of talent. The Bills will be in the market for a backup quarterback because J.P. Losman will be looking for opportunities elsewhere.

I’ve stated a few times that I think Byron Leftwich might be the best available free agent this offseason. I say that because Kerry Collins only wants to be a starter, and he’s also a free agent. Now Leftwich might be able to find an opportunity where he’ll be given the chance to start (e.g. Chicago) and that would make Buffalo far less attractive, where I’m assuming only the backup job will be what’s offered.

So to expect to see some juggernaut QB get signed to play the role of backup is unrealistic as I see it. You may have to settle for a Ryan Fitzpatrick (who I like), Chris Simms or some other veteran that is accustomed to the backup role and would be more accepting of it.

 

2. Hey Chris,   
 
        A while back on Fan Friday you said something about we can’t compete for Haynesworth or Suggs in the offseason. My question is why not considering other teams sign a big player almost every year, we never really sign a player like that.  Also who do you think we can bring in during free agency considering we need another good DE to get to the QB.  And do you think we can spend the money to bring in Kurt Warner. We need a better QB that can throw touchdowns. Kurt Warner is a leader, that can throw a lot of TDs, Trent Edwards really doesn’t.
 
The needs as I see them are all over the board, but the biggest two are QB and DE

-Showtime

CB: I don’t disagree that there are several needs. Perhaps I should have been more clear with respect to Haynesworth and Suggs. First of all, I don’t think Haynesworth hits the market. He’s too vital for the Titans to let him go. I think Suggs could get away with Bart Scott and Ray Lewis also set to become free agents for Baltimore. Suggs would arguably cost the most due to the higher price tag for pass rushers.

The reason I don’t think the Bills will be able to compete for Suggs is there will be a number of teams competing for him on the free agent market if he gets there. The Bills historically don’t like to get into bidding wars for players, and there will be numerous bidders for Suggs. I’d be very happy with Bart Scott though to upgrade the linebacking unit.

 

3. Chris,
  I recently heard that JP Losman will not be returning to the Bills next season because of another poor showing during this past season.  Do you think any other team in the NFL would pick him up because of that reason?  Thanks.

Jim Brown
Lancaster, NY

CB: It has less to do with his poor showing and more to do with the fact that he’s an unrestricted free agent. Losman also wants to pursue an opportunity where he’ll have a legitimate chance to compete for a starting job.

Even though there are NFL teams in need of quarterback help, in light of how he performed this past season when called upon, I’m not confident he’ll be able to get such an opportunity. I think he’ll have to accept a backup job and hope he gets another shot. He’d be wise to go to a team with an offense that suits his strengths, which is making plays on the run and throwing downfield.

 

4. Hey Chris,
 
What’s up with all the criticism of Poz lately?  People on the message board are calling him a bust, you yourself said you’re “willing to give him another year.”  What are people expecting from this guy that we aren’t getting?  The dude is in on practically every tackle and there are way weaker positions on this defense than MLB.  Why aren’t people calling out a guy like Keith Ellison or Chris Kelsay instead?
-Muzz

CB: I was puzzled by the negativity over Poz too. I think those people that saw Poz play at Penn State were a bit spoiled because he not only made the routine plays, but the big ones as well, a lot of them. Now in the pros those big plays have been fewer and further between and people that saw him play in college think something is wrong. I personally think those big plays will become more and more frequent in year three. In essence this past season was his rookie year after playing all of 2 1/2 games in 2007. He was usually a half step away from making a lot of big plays in 2008. He said himself he wants to make more big plays and no one puts in more time in the offseason than this guy. I really believe it’ll come. Keep the faith.

 

5. Hey Chris,
I agree with your assessment of drafting a pass rushing defensive end. Who would you like to see in a Buffalo Bills uniform?
 
What the Bills need to do with the tight end position, Do you think we should draft, sign a FA, or get the current ones more involved?
 
God Bless The Buffalo Bills!
  
Alex – San Juan, P.R.

CB: First, I’d appreciate it if you could send some of your gorgeous weather up this way. We’re freezing our rears off in Buffalo today. Now back to business.

As I’ve said I’d like to see the Bills use their top pick on a pass rusher. I was very impressed from what I’ve seen from Everette Brown (FSU) and Brian Orakpo (Texas) this year. What I like about them is their brute strength, which will be important at the pro level when it comes to standing in there against the run.

I would like to do a little more research on them before definitively stating that I think they’re the best fit for the Bills. There are some other candidates as well.

If the Bills elect to go the free agent route, I’m concerned because I don’t see them winning a bidding war for Julius Peppers or Terrell Suggs as I stated above. The young free agent talent at DE is not overly impressive. Chauncey Davis had four sacks lining up opposite John Abraham. Antonio Smith had 3.5 sacks lining up opposite Bertrand Berry (who is also a FA, but on the downside) and Corey Smith (Detroit) isn’t much to get excited about either. That’s why I think the draft is the best route to take.

As for tight end the only free agent I’d consider this offseason is Bo Scaife (Tennessee). He had a productive year (58-561-2 TDs) though he’s not going to stretch the field and he’s not any bigger or better for that matter than Schouman or Fine. But his numbers have improved the last couple of years. But if the right game-breaking prospect is on the board in the second or third round (Chase Coffman – Missouri?) I’m not opposed to going that route at all.


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