Inside The Bills

Fan Friday 6-24

Posted by Chris Brown on June 24, 2016 – 11:24 am

The offseason break for the players is underway. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thanks for your tireless work on covering the Bills! Here is my question. Will the Bills be able to carry Seantrel Henderson on the Non Football Injury list, while he is attempting to gain his strength, build his weight back up and determine if he can resume his football career? This will open a roster spot for the team through camp and maybe beyond.

CB: Yes, the non-football injury list is an option for Buffalo with Henderson should your scenario prove to be the case come training camp. Henderson was at 306 during minicamp when he was doing workouts in the weight room on his own in practices. He wants to get up to 325 to 330 pounds when he’s back playing again. We’ll know if the five and a half weeks between now and training camp proves to be enough time for him to accomplish that. If not, the NFI list would seem to be a distinct possibility.

 

2 – Chris,

I’m curious if you think P Colton Schmidt had trouble holding for K Dan Carpenter last season?  In his interview with Brian Moorman he mentioned how difficult it was for him to hold kicks, since he never did it in college.  Is it possible the chemistry wasn’t there between the FG kicker and the holder, and the unit suffered as a result?

Thanks,
Ed

CB:
I give Schmidt a lot of credit for being so honest. There were at least two misses for Carpenter last season that I recall which could’ve been attributed to a less than ideal hold by the Bills punter. One was because the snap was off line and there wasn’t enough to get the ball down and spin the laces out, though I can’t remember the game. On the whole though I felt Schmidt acquitted himself well on holds.

I felt the chemistry was pretty solid between the two with the operation of the kick. I expect it to be even better this year based on what I saw in the spring practices.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do you think that the defense can make it back to a top tier defense in the NFL?
Troy Davis

CB: This is one of the questions we intend to address during our Camp Countdown, which commences on July 4th. I think there are a host of reasons Buffalo’s defense has a chance to be a top 10 unit again. Much of the talent is still on this roster from the last two times they finished in the top 10 (2013, 2014).

They have upgraded their defensive coaching ranks with the addition of Rob Ryan, John Blake and Ed Reed.

Fixtures in the middle of their defense are healthy again (Aaron Williams, Kyle Williams). Rookie additions look poised to make an impact early (Ragland, Washington and eventually Lawson). And no longer is Ryan trying to blend his proven defensive scheme with elements of Jim Schwartz’s scheme that some players clung to in 2015.

 

4 – Chris,

Thanks for keeping those of us on the away team up on how our Bills are doing.

I haven’t heard anything about Nick O’Leary since the one game last year. What’s the story?

Thanks again for all you do.
Go Bills
Ken Remington

CB: O’Leary is a tight end who didn’t see quite as much action in the spring practices as other tight ends battling for the No. 2 job behind Charles Clay. Blake Annen, who we profiled on Buffalobills.com recently and Chris Gragg got the most work after Clay during the team periods of practice. Both run well and offer more size and athleticism than O’Leary. What O’Leary needs to do is highlight his versatility as much as possible when put in a move tight end role or H-back set.

With true fullbacks on the roster though that task may prove difficult. It’s clear the offensive staff was giving Annen and Gragg most of the reps after Clay. Jim Dray is the clear blocking tight end for this offense. So O’Leary has to have a strong camp to outperform one of the other tight ends and stick.

 

5 – Chris,

The Bills just signed another FA RB??  With the uncertainly at both the RG & RT positions, and almost NO depth to provide any real backup for either position, Whaley is worried about RB’s. Wait until there is a injury to the OL. The Bills need to get their act together in a hurry.  What say you??

Fan in TN

CB: After taking a breath you probably saw the main reason Boom Herron was signed as a free agent. Karlos Williams weight gain and lack of availability in the practice setting was the main reason. Without him taking reps, it would’ve put additional strain on the backs still healthy.

After watching five running backs go down to injury last summer at training camp at the same time, I think you could understand why they made the move.

Offensive line has some depth. Granted none of them are household names, but there’s a veteran C/G in Fernando Velasco, a backup guard in Ryan Groy. Cyril Richardson is still on the roster after serving on the practice squad last year.

I respect the concern for a lack of depth. Undrafted rookies usually aren’t the answer for depth in a win now type of season. I think early in camp if it’s obvious their young depth players aren’t coming along I expect they’ll address things up front.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-17

Posted by Chris Brown on June 17, 2016 – 11:36 am

Spring practices have come to a close. Just six weeks until training camp. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Has Dez Lewis secured a place on the roster? And does he have any exp of kick/punt returning? #bills

Dave G@freshie1975

CB: We will have a feature story on Dez Lewis this Monday on how he has advanced his game entering his second season. I think if Lewis continues on his current path he will undoubtedly be on the 53-man roster. But what he did in the spring has to continue in training camp when the pads go on, especially for a 6-4 receiver like Lewis. In fact Lewis’ game should go up another notch knowing how he can assert his physicality on the field. Hopefully that proves to be the case. As I wrote today in ‘What we learned about the Bills in offseason practices’ he has the inside track on the No. 3 receiver role.

His punt/kick return experience is minimal. He had just two punt returns in college and no kick returns.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills how serious is Karlos’s weight issue. Have Gilislee and J Williams over taken him in terms of a roster spot#bills

Dave G@freshie1975

CB: There is no debating that Karlos has a formidable task in front of him. He has so much weight to lose that Rex Ryan said this week that getting him back to his playing weight by the start of training camp might be too much in too short a period of time.

His weight loss has to come in stages. So in late July when players report it’s unlikely that Williams will be at his playing weight of 230 pounds. Depending on what his report weight is Williams practice regimen could be limited to avoid the risk of injury. When you’re carrying excess weight, especially at a position like running back you’re risk of injury increases significantly, with hamstrings being the most susceptible to problems.

So I would expect a similar approach early in camp with Williams where he’s doing individual position drill work and then going to the side to work with the strength and conditioning staff to continue to shed weight.

As for the running back pecking order, it’s clear that the offensive staff is high on Jonathan Williams. In minicamp with LeSean McCoy’s ankle injury keeping him out of team work and Karlos Williams weight keeping him out of team work, Jonathan Williams was first in the rotation at the position followed by Mike Gillislee.

Jonathan Williams has a lot of the same physical skills of Karlos Williams. If Karlos Williams’ weight loss process last into the preseason I think it’s very possible that Jonathan Williams is your backup running back and Gillislee remains the third back as he was last season.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think Kyle Williams will be more effective in a shared rotational role with Adolphus Washington?

i carn’t spel@NickTheCrowe

CB: I believe that Kyle Williams will still be a starter on this defensive line in 2016. Will he play as many snaps as Marcell Dareus or Adolphus Washington? Probably not. But I expect him to start at right defensive end next to Dareus and kick inside at times on obvious passing downs. Washington will man left defensive end with Dareus on the nose.

It’s my belief that Williams is still a very effective and productive player even at 33-years old. I suppose we won’t know for sure until we see how he looks in training camp in return from a bad knee injury that required surgery. But most seem to forget this guy is a four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman. He’s a grinder. So I don’t see a rotational role for him unless that knee injury robbed him of his trademark explosiveness off the snap.

 

4 – Chris,

Does it concern you that Rex is simplifying his scheme to appease his players?  It concerns me that we won’t be running the same system that has such a long track record of success, because players aren’t smart enough to pick it up.  How did the Jets defense pick it up in the first year, but here we are in year two in Buffalo and they have to simplify the checks.  Not very encouraging.  Maybe this team needs to put a greater premium on intelligence, like Belichick does; you have to be a college graduate to be a Patriot.

Mike S.

CB: After talking to Preston Brown about that very thing I’m not concerned. I asked Brown directly as to whether the defensive scheme has been pared down. He said the only part of the defense that has been “altered slightly” (his words) is there aren’t quite as many pre-snap checks on certain down and distances. Otherwise Ryan’s defensive scheme is largely the same.

The key difference this year is Ryan is no longer blending elements of the old Jim Schwartz scheme from 2014. Rex tried to blend elements of Schwartz’s successful scheme in 2014 with his own as an olive branch to the defensive players who were successful and productive in that system. By midseason he knew it was a mistake.

So going into this season it’s Ryan’s more traditional 3-4 system that has a proven track record in this league for 15-plus years. What’s more the players have completely committed themselves to learning the scheme. So I would not be concerned about the effectiveness of Rex’s scheme. I think it will work with a lot more success this season for the reasons mentioned above.

 

5 – Dear Chris:

Thank you for all of your coverage that you do on the Bills day after day, hope you continue the game day chat box, very helpful.

My question is regarding Shaq Lawson; is there a timetable for his return as of yet? What for surgery/operation was done on his shoulder? Could he potentially miss the start of the regular season and most of training camp, as reports I have read so far have indicated, or could he potentially rehab his heart out in time to make the end of training camp, as shoulder injuries can take time to heal. This is very much concerning me as I have not much info on how long it could be until he gets back to full health.

Sincerely
John from Pennsylvania

CB: I think the most important thing is that Shaq’s surgery was successful. Now the rehab process begins, but rehabbing from this procedure is going to take time, typically four months or more knowing each case is different. So I believe it’s likely that Lawson misses training camp and the preseason. The team has stated he’s also likely to miss the early stages of the regular season.

What benefits the Bills coaching staff is they have time to adjust their plans for the loss of Lawson from their defensive lineup. It’s reasonable to believe he’ll be good to go for at least the second half of the season. At what point in the first half of the season he returns is a timetable that can’t be pinned down until he’s further along in the rehab process.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-10

Posted by Chris Brown on June 10, 2016 – 12:07 pm

OTAs are done, minicamp is next and then it’s just six weeks until training camp. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills who do you think is going to be our rookie of the year?

Leah Fallesen@LeahCF

CB: I think the player who has the best opportunity to be rookie of the year is Reggie Ragland. With Shaq Lawson expected to miss a portion of the regular season coming off shoulder surgery it removes him as a likely candidate. Then add in the fact that Ragland is a recognized name from his widespread exposure at Alabama and that he’ll be playing a position where he can rack up a lot of statistics, and I believe the opportunity is good for Ragland’s play to stand out.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills do you see Sterling Moore as the nickel corner or will Robey keep his spot?

@JaredBailey23

CB: I certainly believe that Moore will be some of Robey’s stiffest competition. His time in the slot to this point has been somewhat limited, though I did see him line up there for a handful of snaps in the open practice session this week.

Moore does have a size advantage on Robey at that role (who doesn’t), but Robey has near perfect technique. He has to otherwise he’s not playing in the NFL. I know the coaching staff like Robey a lot, so I think Moore would have to clearly outplay him to unseat him from that role.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills what receiver has stood out in OTA’s.

@Richkay71

CB: The receiver that has stood out the most has been second-year man Dez Lewis. He’s made a lot of plays. Now Robert Woods has made a ton of plays too in the OTAs, but I think Lewis is the biggest surprise. Lewis has added good lean muscle mass to his 6-4 frame and has not only demonstrated good ability to win on passes in traffic, but has also shown the ability to get separation. He can thank his improved route running for that.

He’ll have legitimate competition in veterans like Jarrett Boykin, Greg Little and Leonard Hankerson, but so far so good for Lewis in trying to nail down a role in Buffalo’s receiving corps.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills who do you think will get the punt/kick return duties for 2016 #bills

@freshie1975

CB: There are a few candidates as seems to be the case every year, but the names have changed. CB  Javier Arenas and WR Walter Powell have seen the most consistent work on returns. It’s safe to say that Marquise Goodwin and Kolby Listenbee will be given opportunities on kick return when available just based on pure speed.

I think Listenbee is a good bet for kick return. Punt return is a bit tougher to call only because both Arenas and Powell will be fighting for roster spots and the job may ultimately fall to someone else, like perhaps Robert Woods who has plenty of return experience.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance Colin Kaepernick ends up in Buffalo?

@JCMcVitty

CB: I’d be a bit surprised if Kaepernick winds up in Buffalo. I realize a lot of people are trying to connect dots knowing that Kaepernick had his greatest success in the NFL under Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Unless the 49ers are giving Kaepernick away and want to cover part of his salary, I don’t believe Buffalo takes a run at him.

The main reason is his $11.9M cap figure. Knowing a Stephon Gilmore extension is a priority for the Bills and that an extension for Tyrod Taylor is likely if he performs as expected I can’t see Kaepernick making much business.

The other reason I could see the Bills not being interested is Buffalo finally has some stability at the quarterback position with Tyrod Taylor as its starter. Adding Kaepernick would bring some uncertainty to the position in terms of depth chart hierarchy. If for some reason Taylor struggled in a game or two and Kaepernick was on the roster, fans would be calling to insert him into the lineup.

Most importantly I don’t know that the Bills or any other NFL club is convinced that Kaepernick would make them decidedly better at the quarterback position. His effectiveness as a quarterback has suffered the last couple of seasons. Kaepernick’s career stats are better than Manuel’s, but his completion percentage is largely the same as EJ.

I get the argument that his game could potentially be revitalized under Roman, but unless you can get him for cheap in terms of compensation and at a severely reduced salary (something Kaepernick has balked at before) I don’t know that it’s a reclamation project I’d be interested in. Whether the Bills are interested would largely hinge on what Roman believes he could accomplish with him.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 6-3

Posted by Chris Brown on June 3, 2016 – 11:40 am

Two weeks of OTAs down, one to go. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Where has Lavar Edwards lined up? OLB or DE?

Brett Triplett @BrettsterBills

CB: Edwards has lined up exclusively at defensive end through the OTA practices. I think while Edwards has the ideal height to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 system at 6-4, it’s apparent that Buffalo’s defensive coaches believe they have other options with better coverage skills to play that position. Plus Edwards is built in such a way where he can hold the edge in the run game pretty effectively as I see it. So where they have him lined up makes sense to me at this stage.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills how big of a role will Jonathan Williams have year one?

Mark Sciubba @MarkSciubbaDoe

CB: As I mentioned in a blog post earlier this week, I think Jonathan Williams can give Karlos Williams a run for his money as the backup behind LeSean McCoy. Watching his game tape from Arkansas the thing that impresses me most is his contact balance. Just the way he bounces off that initial tackler almost every time and keeps his legs churning for extra yards. I think his thick build fools opponents into thinking he’s just a downhill runner.

He can do that, but he’s also got some elusiveness and speed to pull away from people. Now he’s probably not outrunning some of the faster safeties in the league should he reach the secondary on a play, but he knows angles and has a more diversified skill set than people realize.

The last thing about him is he’s a driven person. He handles adversity very well so I think the challenge of Greg Roman’s voluminous playbook won’t be much of a hurdle for him. That should lead to competent and consistent play and will enable him to push for a bigger role than some might be anticipating from him in 2016.


3 –
@ChrisBrownBills Which players are poised to become major team leaders this upcoming season?

Matt Williams @SportingGlasses

CB: I would put players like Preston Brown in that category as well as Sammy Watkins. Those two have embraced the added responsibility of leading not only by example, but vocally as well. In my mind Tyrod Taylor became a major leader last season.


4 –
@ChrisBrownBills Do you think the Bills will continue to move Sammy around like they did vs the Jets? Or do u think its game plan specific?

@Jiillyy

CB: While the opponent is always a factor in how offenses make use of their most dangerous weapons, I would anticipate moving Sammy Watkins around to continue. It makes him harder to track, thereby making it more difficult for opposing defensive coordinators to stick to a specific plan designed to neutralize him.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills where do you think eric striker fits on this defense if he makes the team?

Ser Davos Seaworth @matt_faso

CB: I think inside linebacker is the only place where he can line up in this scheme. He’s not tall enough to play out on the edge at outside linebacker. If he makes the 53-man roster, knowing how effective he was as a pass rusher I wouldn’t be surprised if he was utilized in some subpackages as an overload rusher off the edge in obvious passing situations.

But he’s going to make this roster because he’s an impact player on special teams, which I believe is certainly in the realm of possibility.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-27

Posted by Chris Brown on May 27, 2016 – 11:28 am

Week one of OTAs is in the books. Week 2 gets underway Tuesday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris

Thanks for all you do to keep us Bills fans informed! My question is about extending Gilmore and Tyrod. With Gilmore being under contract under the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, if he and the Bills were able to strike a long term deal this offseason, does that work like the franchise tag where his new deal would replace his current contract, or is this year’s salary set in stone and they can only negotiate an extension for next year and beyond?

If it is an extension that doesn’t impact his present salary for this season, how would that work with his signing bonus? Would a prorated portion count against the cap this year? Same thing with Tyrod, if the team signed him to an extension so they could keep him at his low salary for this season, if the extension were signed this offseason, would there be any impact on this season’s salary cap from his signing bonus if his salary doesn’t change? Thanks!

CB: New long term deals typically replace the existing one. The club usually does this to more effectively spread out the amortized portions of the contract (e.g. signing bonus). On occasion teams will tack on an extension to the current year, but it’s uncommon.

2 – Chris

Can you give us more insight into UDFA Justin Zimmer. He was the fastest/quickest/strongest tackle in this year’s draft with something like 86 tackles, 13 sacks, 26 tfl, and 4 ff’s.  This kid should have been drafted just based on his measurables alone.  44 Reps/4.85 40 with outstanding short shuttle and 3 cone times- Are you kidding me?  Mo Boehringer got drafted on pure potential and this kid is way more experienced than him, even at Ferris St.  Can Coach Blake morph this kid into the next Aaron Donald or Geno Atkins?  With Adolphus Washington we really strengthened the interior D.

John

CB: One reason why Zimmer went undrafted is because he has short arms. While this might sound ridiculous these are parts of the player measurables that carry weight especially when it comes to line play. If you can’t keep offensive linemen from getting into your chest then you’ll have problems making plays.

Now Zimmer to his credit was ultra-productive at the FCS level. He’s quick and agile and obviously powerful and he’s a hustler. To say he could be the next Aaron Donald or Geno Atkins is a stretch. That being said he’ll be interesting to watch when the pads go on in camp.
3 – 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?

Thanks,
Ron
CB: First, I’m going to tell you that in this first week of OTAs the players admitted they assumed with an accomplished defensive coach coming in the door that they just expected to be just as good as they were the year before and did not put the required time in to master the defense. Just about every place Rex Ryan has been his players have never had a problem absorbing and implementing the defensive system he employs. They’ve never had a problem playing fast.

Buffalo’s players pretty much acknowledged that a lot of their shortcomings last season were on them because they didn’t buy into the system. That’s changed now, so I’d be interested to see how well they can play in this defense with the talent they have on hand.

Now will it be an adjustment for the three top draft choices? Probably, but their talent will help to carry them until they do have it all down pat. Additionally all three draft choices are workers and committed to being great. Those are all encouraging signs. As we all know the proof will be in the results on the field.

 

4 – Hey Chris ,
Do you think the Bills have any interest in trading for Sam Bradford ? Personally I think he has had a pretty raw deal since entering the league, his first three seasons the Rams had nobody really legit to play with on offense except for Danny Amendola , he tore his acl twice and the Eagles were a mess to begin with before he got there, Buffalo has a lot of good players on offense right now I would be really curious to see who would win the starting job between Taylor and Bradford, thank you.

Alexander, Toronto


CB:
I’d be surprised if the Bills pursue something like this if in fact Bradford is offered up again. The biggest question facing this team is whether or not they have a franchise quarterback. That won’t be answered if you add another QB to the mix. They should stick with Tyrod Taylor this season and see what kind of step forward he can make.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills Didn’t the Bills defense want to be the ‘85 bears last year?

Joe gnozzo @joegnozzo51

CB: I don’t think the bar was ever set that high. From a scheme perspective that wasn’t the plan either. Rex’s defense does have some 46 principles to it, but the biggest issue in terms of scheme in 2015 was Ryan’s attempt to blend some of the successful concepts of the team’s 2014 system that helped them finish fourth in the NFL with his own scheme.

The blend did not work by Ryan’s own admission by midseason and the unit never recovered when they tried to eliminate that in season.

This year they’re going to be more of a traditional 3-4 and play strictly Ryan’s defensiv


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-20

Posted by Chris Brown on May 20, 2016 – 12:18 pm

Bills OTAs get rolling on Monday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Why haven’t Bills looked at Anquan Boldin as he seems to fit what they need a WR. Thanks!

BC72 @bchud1972

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?

Thanks,
Ron

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.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-13

Posted by Chris Brown on May 13, 2016 – 12:42 pm

It’s a special Friday the 13th edition of Fan Friday. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills will the Bills bring in a 4th QB to compete for backup position?

Ace Jay Legend @BillsBacker77

CB: I am not anticipating a fourth quarterback coming in to compete. The main reason why is Cardale Jones needs as many reps as he can possibly get to develop consistent mechanics. From his drop backs to his throwing mechanics, Jones needs all the work he can get in the practice setting. If there’s a fourth quarterback here, every rep he takes is a rep that Jones doesn’t get.

With Jones being a long-term investment I can’t see the Bills bringing in a fourth QB, who is a long shot to make the roster anyway, taking reps away from Jones on the back end of the quarterback rotation in the practice setting.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills with the Bills taking listenbee in the draft how are the chances Goodwin makes the team?

Jared Bailey @JaredBailey23

CB: I think that’s a very valid question. There’s no denying that Listenbee’s speed rivals that of Goodwin. Listenbee also offers superior size and in watching his game tape is really good at tracking the deep ball. He’s coming off sports hernia surgery and also has inflammation of the pelvis, which will take time to heal.

Listenbee may not be getting physical reps in the practice setting until training camp, so unseating Goodwin for a roster spot might take longer than some might anticipate.

Goodwin has been given the freedom to pursue a spot on the 2016 Olympic team to try to compete in the long jump in Rio. If he makes the Olympic team it will cost him time in training camp with the Olympics taking place in August. I believe that will pose the biggest risk for Goodwin losing a roster spot than Listenbee’s presence on the roster.

There are no ‘seat saves’ in the NFL. That’s a crucial part of the NFL calendar to be missing time.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills do you think the drafting of Washington means anything regarding Kyle Williams future with the team?

JBills32 @JLasher10

CB: If you’re asking whether Kyle’s roster spot could be in jeopardy because Washington is on the roster my answer is no. The plan right now is for Washington to be the team’s left defensive end, with Dareus at nose tackle and Kyle starting at right defensive end.

I don’t think it’s any secret that Kyle is on the back side of his career, but I think the Bills would like to get two more seasons out of him (2016 & 2017) as long as he’s interested in doing so.

The hidden additional value with Kyle is his leadership, which was sorely missed in the locker room last season when he went out in Week 6 with his knee injury (see: Mario Williams).

The addition of Washington should be seen as a complement to the games of Dareus and Williams, not a threat.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you see the Bills making any FA/Trade moves along the right side of the offensive line?

Kevin @KevinMassare

CB: I don’t think you can ever rule out a possible move with Doug Whaley as GM. If it makes sense and improves the team he’s shown he’s willing to do it. I know Peter King reported last month that the 49ers would be interested in trading former first-round pick OT Anthony Davis, who chose to take a one-year sabbatical from football, and now wants to resume his NFL career.

A proven player who is just 26-years old would probably come at a high price, even after taking off a year. It would be interesting to see what the 49ers would be looking for in return, even though San Francisco GM Trent Baalke has told Davis that he is not interested in trading him.

His cap hit, if his old contract was re-instated, would be just over $5M for 2016, a bargain by most standards for a player of his caliber. But that’s where things could get sticky too. If he is going to be traded, must that team negotiate a new contract with him? A lot of potential hurdles there.

Besides him there are some veteran guard options out there, but I believe the Bills might play the wait and see game. I don’t believe there’s any sense of panic there. I think they feel good about what they have to work with.
5 – Chris,

How do you feel about the Bills 1st round pick considering who was available? Nkemdiche for example. I feel like it was a bit of a homer pick considering Rex wore a Clemson helmet to a press conference. Do you think he was on the top of our board or was Rex being Rex?

Great work as always Chris!  Thanks!

CB: As you saw in our Inside the Draft Room feature and video, the Bills never even thought Shaq Lawson would be available to them there at 19. They had him off the board by the 12th pick in their final stack of the board based on how they thought the first round would fall.

For them Lawson was a tremendous value there at 19. As for Nkemdiche, it was evident that his off the field concerns and on the field concerns were too much for a number of teams besides the Bills. Buffalo just parted ways with a player who did not give his best on the field for the last 10 weeks of last season in Mario Williams. Did you really think they would bring in another player with a history of similar play, especially with their first-round pick?

There was no way that was going to happen.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-6

Posted by Chris Brown on May 6, 2016 – 11:33 am

Time for post-draft analysis. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills with the drafting of Williams, can all 4 make the team? Or is he fighting Gillislee for a single spot?

Parasauralophus @lophus89

CB: I think all four could absolutely make the roster. I think Jonathan Williams is going to open some eyes very quickly at training camp. Talented kid with great feet for a downhill back.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills What Undrafted Free Agents do you see having the best chance of cracking the 53 man roster? Matt from England #Bills

Matt Swain @MSwain86

CB: I like LB Erik Striker’s athletic ability on the whole. Even though he’s making a position switch I think Rex and Rob Ryan find a way to find a role for him. Plus I think he can be a demon on special teams. I think G Jamison Lalk’s versatility could really help him. He’s played OT, G and C in his college career. I also like NT Justin Zimmer’s short area quickness, but we’ll see.

 

3 – Chris,

Thanks for all your efforts in keeping us diehard fans up to date.   My question is, with the issues Dan Carpenter had last year in missed extra points and field goals, do you foresee any change? It would be nice to have a player fill both roles for kick offs and field goals, extra points. Kickoffs surely are an important factor in keeping an opponent backed up and a whole field in front of them. But missing an extra point changes future decisions and you are usually down a point instead of tied.

Thanks for your insight.
Gary in Indianapolis

CB: While I understand your frustration with the extra point issues Carpenter had last year, if you look at his NFL track record I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills look at his 2015 season as an aberration. Now that being said the coaching staff isn’t turning a blind eye to what ailed Carpenter last season. Hopefully those days are behind him, but they did bring in an undrafted rookie free agent kicker in Georgia’s Marshall Morgan as competition.

We profiled Morgan’s college career earlier this week.

 

4 – Chris,
How do you feel about the Bills 1st round pick considering who was available? Nkemdiche for example. I feel like it was a bit of a homer pick considering Rex wore a Clemson helmet to a press conference. Do you think he was on the top of our board or was Rex being Rex?

Great work as always Chris!
Thanks!

GaynorGuarantee

CB: Having the privilege of being in the draft room I can assure you he was the top player available for them. As I covered in my Inside the Draft Room feature, the Bills thought he’d be gone in the first dozen picks. That’s how high they had him graded.

The Bills and just about every other team doesn’t let personal attachments affect draft grades. There’s too much investment involved to let that play a factor.


5 –
@ChrisBrownBills Thoughts on Slauson? Does he leave town? Lots of connections to Rex/Kromer. Can play across the line other than LT

Mavin @BillsFanNY

CB: I think the Bills would like to add him and they do have one open roster spot at this point. The money saved by signing Cordy Glenn to his big extension helps make that a greater possibility. Have to see what Slauson is willing to accept if he likes what his role would be, which at this point would be a backup. Not certain he’s ready to accept such a role.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-29

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2016 – 5:15 pm

Day two of the NFL draft. Right now the Bills hold the 49th and 80th picks. What do they do tonight? Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Hey Chris, who do you expect with be their at pick 49?

ryan marx 

CB: I think it’s hard to know what’s going to be left if the Bills stay put at 49 overall. If the value on defense keeps getting pushed down they could go on that side of the ball again. Players like Myles Jack, Reggie Ragland and Jarran Reed all figure to go early tonight in round two. But there’s still good talent after that like Kevin Dodd, A’Shawn Robinson and Kamalei Correa. On offense you’ve got Connor Cook, but he’ll probably go in the top two picks tonight.

I took a look at the best talent that’s on the board that might be a good fit for the Bills.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance bills trade up to select a top remaining linebacker?

Zach @ZWinterberg

CB: I don’t think you can rule anything out with Doug Whaley at the wheel. He’s not afraid to make a deal if it makes sense for the team. Based on the old trade value chart the Bills would have to give up a third-round pick to get up to the top of round two tonight from their current spot at 49.

There’s also going to be competition to move up that high with reports that Dallas wants to get up there, probably to take a shot at Connor Cook. Myles Jack and Reggie Ragland would be great for Buffalo, but the price to go to the top of round two might be too much.

Perhaps they choose to wait to see how the first few picks unfold and if one of their top players is still on the board they make some calls.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills any chance Bills move Manny Lawson to MLB now that Shaq is starting OLB opposite Jerry Hughes?

Matt Dermod

CB: Since we saw that transpire late last season I think it’s an option. Manny Lawson is a player that is valued by Rex Ryan. He’s stated more than once that he’s one of the smartest players he’s ever coached. He can fill roles at OLB, DE and inside at LB. His versatility gives the Ryans options.

So while I don’t think it’s the most likely scenario, it’s possible. Personally I think Lawson takes on a jack of all trades role because mentally he’s more than capable of playing different roles week to week.

 

4 – Hey Chris,

Not much is mentioned about Robert Woods and his future with the Bills.  I know he is going into his contract year and has some to prove in 2016.  Do you think the Bills will want to get him under another contract?  I know he had a down year in 2015 due to a groin injury but I think Robert is a very underrated receiver and I would really hate to see him leave the team.  Thanks for all your insight.  Jillian

CB: It’s pretty clear to everyone that the contract extension priorities on the roster are Tyrod Taylor, Cordy Glenn and Stephon Gilmore. I like Robert Woods and I too believe he’s underrated. To his credit he played hurt last season and almost had a 50-catch season.

Unfortunately with the other players in front of him on the list for extensions it’s probably a wait and see situation for him.

 

5 – Chris,

With all the talk about Tyrod Taylor as the starting QB for the Bills and talk about the Bills drafting a QB this year, what has been going on with EJ Manuel?  I have been a big EJ fan since he came in the league and I would like to know what the Bills staff’s plans are for him and what are the chances he will be with the team after his contract is up next year?  What is really preventing him from Starting for the Bills?

CB: Manuel is expected to serve as the backup this season, the final under his rookie contract. What happens beyond that I believe is tied to the other quarterback the Bills acquire, presumably through the draft. If the hypothetical rookie makes a lot of progress and convinces the offensive staff he could handle a backup role in 2017 then Manuel probably is not re-signed. If the progress isn’t happening at a rate the staff feels comfortable with, perhaps EJ is brought back on a short term deal.

As for your last question on what is preventing him from starting for the Bills, it’s Tyrod Taylor. The seventh-highest rated quarterback in the league, a 3.33:1 touchdown to interception ratio and a solid deep passing game.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-22

Posted by Chris Brown on April 22, 2016 – 12:46 pm

The last Fan Friday before the 2016 NFL draft. Let’s get right to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Are there any areas of concern that we’re overlooking when it comes to the roster? DL and QB are always talked about.

Jordan Hanson @iamthelegenddd

CB: If you’re looking for hidden needs so to speak I think OT, CB and safety are areas that could use some reinforcements. At tackle and safety you don’t know for sure what the future holds for Seantrel Henderson with his health condition and Aaron Williams in his comeback from a neck injury.

Jordan Mills re-signed, but has a one-year contract. So investing at offensive tackle would make sense.

Williams said himself he won’t know for sure if he can continue his playing career until he starts hitting in training camp. Adding a safety even later in the draft would be advisable to cover the organization in a worst case scenario with Williams.

Cornerback might be a position that draws eye rolls from fans, but with the loss of Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks, depth is an issue there even though they signed Corey White in free agency. So there is a good argument to add there as well.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills Are the top 3 picks most likely DL, LB, and QB on some order? #FanFriday

NFL Predictor @PredictingNFL

CB: While there is no debate that the Bills want to add to their talent base in the front seven on defense and have made no secret that they need to add a quarterback, to just blindly say those are likely to be their top three picks is foolhardy. The reason why is there’s no way to know what will be sitting on the board when they’re on the clock in any of the first three rounds.

What if there’s an early run on defensive linemen? Do they take one of the top four offensive tackles in round one? They could. What if some cornerback slips to them in round two, who they have with a first round grade? They would take him.

There are simply too many variables to say they’ll address these three positions in the first three rounds. In a perfect world that would be a very logical thought, but as you know that’s not how the draft works.

If the value isn’t right Doug Whaley is not going to force a pick at a need position, plain and simple.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills what would your reaction be to Darron Lee going 19?

James @jarbarian9

CB: I’d be very happy with that pick at 19. Lee is the new wave of linebacker teams need in the NFL. I think as long as your defensive scheme has a way to protect a linebacker like Lee from getting covered up you can maximize his playmaking value. He’d be a very solid pick there at a position that needs an influx of talent. Whether he’s still be on the board will be the big question.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills curious about this so called infatuation the bills have with Kevin Hogan, is there any truth to that and why?

Matt @mattgolden03

CB: I think people are reading way too much into what Doug Whaley said about Hogan about a month ago. Yes, he stated that he thought Hogan would be one of the most pro ready quarterbacks in the class. That is probably true. He played in a pro-style offense, ran a good number of plays from under center and had progressions that he had to read after the snap. Those three things alone will be completely new to most of this year’s quarterback prospects.

Now does that mean the Bills see him as a fit? Not necessarily.

My personal opinion is Hogan is not a fit for Buffalo. After watching him throw at the NFL combine he doesn’t appear to have the arm strength necessary to play in Greg Roman offense that likes to exploit defenses with over the top throws, usually to the boundary. The weather, most notably the wind in Ralph Wilson Stadium would also present a problem.

 

5 – Chris,

What Inside LB’s would be a fit for the Bills scheme in the draft. Do they need a more athletic  player next to Preston? Cravens from USC looks to be a great fit. What other names should we look for?

Josh

CB: Darron Lee is listed as an outside linebacker, but I think he could play the WILL inside. The question is whether he’ll still be on the board at 19. Most mock drafters don’t think so, but I’m hopeful. Cravens is even smaller than Lee, which worries me a bit in terms of being a linebacker fit.

I like Josh Perry a lot, Lee’s teammate at Ohio State, though he probably goes in round 2 or 3. He’s not quite as athletic as Lee, but man is he a reliable, consistent player. West Virginia’s Nick Kwiatkoski is another ILB to consider late on day two or early day three.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-15

Posted by Chris Brown on April 15, 2016 – 1:43 pm

The NFL draft is closing in and the big trade for the top pick has already been made. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 –  @ChrisBrownBills do you see Tyrod Taylor being our starting quarterback for the next 5 years? If not, how will they go about getting one?

Avery Baum 

CB: I believe that Tyrod Taylor is Buffalo’s starting quarterback for 2016. Anything after that will be based on how Taylor performs. And though there are media reports touting animosity between the Bills and Taylor’s camp I’m not getting that sense at all. Taylor has a starting job here in Buffalo and if he continues to progress in 2016 he’ll be the starter here for a long time.

The bottom line is GM Doug Whaley has said from the start of the offseason that Taylor earned the right to start this year and if he continues to play well he’ll continue to be the starter and will be rewarded accordingly with a new contract as well. Buffalo has the cap space next year to accommodate an extension. Their cap situation now does not.

At the same time the Bills have to fortify the most important position on the roster with more talent. Whaley said they will add a quarterback knowing that not only Taylor, but EJ Manuel are each in the last year of their current contracts.

Whaley has said he thinks there are a good number of developmental type quarterback prospects in the draft and that with a year or two of grooming there are some that could develop into starting caliber QBs at the NFL level.

So knowing you have a starter now in Tyrod Taylor, why not draft a quarterback that you have time to groom with coaches like Greg Roman and David Lee and see how quickly he can come along.

I think everyone needs to understand that the Bills won’t be drafting a quarterback to compete with Tyrod Taylor this season. They’re drafting a quarterback because they need to add one to their roster that they feel has the potential to grow and learn and eventually compete for a starting role in 2-3 years time.

That’s not only their plan, but aside from Carson Wentz and Jared Goff that’s what this year’s class of quarterbacks has to offer.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills Is the need on DL really at NT, since Dareus would be more effective as a 5-tech DE? #Bills

Dean Kindig 

CB: I think the versatility of Marcell Dareus’ game (capable of playing anywhere on the DL) gives Buffalo’s scouting department the flexibility of taking either the best defensive tackle or best defensive end on the board if and when they choose to address their defensive line. I think a true pass rusher probably outweighs the need for an interior defensive lineman, but not much.

Looking at this year’s draft class there are defensive tackles who can provide a pass rush from the interior. Knowing that, I truly think how the Bills address their defensive line will come down to who is still on the board when they pick and if the value matches where they’re picking.


3 –
Dear Chris:
Thank you for all the work you put in over the combine and what you do year round is wonderful. My question is with Mario now gone who do you think the bills will draft as his replacement? Also with Kyle Williams on the wrong side of thirty I’m afraid the bills will cut him like they did Fred last year, I really hope we don’t I would hate to see another long tenured veteran leave without seeing a playoff game.

Sincerely: John from Pennsylvania.

CB: First, I’ll say that I absolutely see Kyle Williams on this roster. His play and his leadership were sorely missed last season when he missed the last 10 games of the year. He also restructured his contract this offseason, which I believe only further solidifies his spot on this roster.

As for replacing Mario, I think that player is hopefully acquired in the draft. You typically have to get those players early, but I don’t know if the right value is going to be there at 19 in round one knowing there aren’t a whole lot of elite pass rushers and they go fast.

That’s why, as I mentioned in the prior response, the versatility of Dareus, Kyle and Corbin Bryant gives Buffalo the option of taking the best value at 19 on the defensive line if that’s the part of their defense they want to address. There could be a highly rated linebacker there as well that merits consideration.

All in all I think the front seven will be a major focus early in this draft and their first pick at 19 stands a very good chance of addressing that focus.

 

4 –  @ChrisBrownBills Fan Friday question… Have we looked into QB Brandon Doughty? His #’s are amazing & he’s 6’3. Ideal to grab in 4th!

Sean Joyce

CB: There’s no debate that the Bills have done their homework on Doughty as they do every prospect. My take is while he was tremendously productive (111 career TD passes) there are a lot of drawbacks with the Western Kentucky product. He’s had multiple knee injuries, has average arm strength and is not especially mobile. When he faced better competition he struggled to raise his game accordingly.

I think he projects to the NFL as a backup and a backup only. For me I don’t draft a quarterback unless I think there’s at least some potential to be an NFL starter at some point. Obviously NFL clubs might feel differently, but I think he only fits a west coast system in viewing his arm strength in games.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills would he fit Rex’s scheme?

ProFootballTalk The Patriots didn’t want DL Dominique Easley. Neither did anyone else. https://t.co/QFYRGMP88P

Robin Vs Fred 

CB: First, there’s a reason no one picked Dominique Easley up on waivers. There’s a long injury history there, which is of some concern. Second, he’s a three technique penetrator type and if his explosion is compromised by his injury history he might not be an NFL caliber player anymore.

He doesn’t have the physical stature to change his game and be a defensive tackle who stands in there and grinds. Most NFL scouts did not believe he was capable of being a two gap DT due to his short arms and limited strength. I’m no scout, but I don’t get the sense that he would be a fit in Buffalo’s defensive scheme.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-8

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2016 – 11:50 am

The Bills were busy in free agency this week with a handful of signings and more visitors in today. Let’s get to your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do you think that the defense’s transition back into a full 3-4 scheme will make them better this year?

Joe DeRosa 

CB: I’ve got to believe it’s going to help. Trying to merge the Bills’ 2014 scheme with Rex’s scheme last year was done in an effort to appease players who were successful in the old scheme. As Ryan himself admitted halfway through last season it didn’t work.

It convinced Rex to go back to what he knows works and that’s his scheme, which is a more traditional 3-4. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to see multiple fronts from one week to the next and from one series to the next. The system is rooted in a traditional 3-4, but what makes Ryan’s scheme so confounding is the variety of fronts that he throws at offenses through the course of a game.

Buy in by the players is critical because his scheme demands complete understanding and mastery of it to execute it properly. Some players didn’t want to commit to that kind of study. One such player is no longer on the roster. Fortunately I think we saw the results of that player buy in over the last two games last season and what it can mean for the defense. Provided that buy in from the players continues and some key adds are made in the draft (couple of starters please?) I think the defense will be better.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills what are the chances bills trade up or down in the first round and why?

Matt 

CB: I think there is a greater likelihood that the Bills move back in round one than move up. First and foremost the Bills need capable and talented bodies for their roster. They not only need to land a starter or two in this draft (LB, DL), they need reinforcements for depth at a few positions too (CB, S, OL, WR, TE).

The two additional compensatory picks in rounds four and six were huge. It’s my belief that Doug Whaley would like to keep all eight of those picks in a perfect world. He’d have to part with some of those if he wants to move up.

The way that moving back in round one becomes a reality is if the Bills have a limited number of first round grades for this year’s class.

Let’s hypothetically say they have legitimate first round grades on just 16 players in this draft class. Perhaps they only have 16 prospects they deem as truly worthy of a first round draft choice. If the Bills are on the clock at 19 and all 16 of those prospects are already off the board, I think moving back becomes more likely.

Whaley and his staff likely have a few players they like that they believe will be there at 19, but if none of them are available why sit there and reach for a player that doesn’t match the value of your pick? Slide back a few slots add another draft choice somewhere on day two and match a prospect with the appropriate value.

 

3 – Dear Chris:
My question is on who the Bills will be looking for in this year’s draft. I know the Bills will be looking to re-tool the defense, and I assume they will be transitioning to a 3-4 with Rex. My question will they be looking for an inside linebacker like Reggie Ragland to put next to Preston Brown or a player with a body type like Nigel Bradham say Jaylon Smith?

Also at D-line will they draft a defensive end like DeForest Buckner/Shaq Lawson, or will they draft a defensive tackle like Jarran Reed or Austin Johnson, plus what do you think our top needs are overall?

Sincerely: John from PA.

CB: I think the key ingredient that needs to be added at linebacker in a prospect is speed. With the league in subpackage defense just about two-thirds of the time you need linebackers who can cover ground and handle coverage assignments with backs and athletic tight ends.

I wouldn’t mind Ragland as a prospect, but I’m not convinced he can cover the type of athletic tight ends and backs we see at the pro level every week. With that in mind I’d prefer a more athletic type linebacker like a Darron Lee.

Bradham was Buffalo’s fastest linebacker and he’s in Philadelphia now, so that speed at linebacker has to be replaced as I see it.

As far as defensive line goes I think both end and DT are both on the table. I don’t expect Buckner to be there at 19 and it’s unlikely that Lawson is either. Both are versatile guys you can position up and down a 3-4 front.

Jarran Reed has a chance to be there. His value isn’t as high because he doesn’t offer as much in terms of pass rush. But I wouldn’t have a problem lining him up at nose tackle and flanking him with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams and let them win on the edge.

 
4 – @ChrisBrownBills Do you think the Bills will go about training camp differently this year? Due to the top players getting injured last yr..

@Jiillyy

CB: I’m not sure there’s much they can do differently. There are strict guidelines set out in the CBA as to how often players can practice during training camp, days off, etc.

What we witnessed last summer with all five running backs going down I believe was an anomaly. The receivers who went down with injuries late in camp was a domino effect. When you lose two receivers in one day it immediately puts more strain and demand on the bodies of the receivers who are left. It’s more reps for them.

Now to the coaches’ and athletic trainers’ credit they backed things off on the healthy players still practicing, and signed more players to help fill the void.

Training camp is a grind, and the Bills do everything in their power to keep players on the field and healthy. There is also a responsibility on the part of the players to do right by their body day in and day out so they can perform at their best. Their body is their livelihood.

Buffalo does make use of GPS technology to track the workload of players each day at camp, so they’re all closely monitored as a means of being proactive and backing players off when the analytics dictate it’s warranted to prevent injuries before they happen. But nothing is perfect.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills You think there’s a player in this year’s draft that could become Buffalo’s next QB in the event that they can’t keep Tyrod?

Jordan Hanson 

CB: I think that’s difficult for anyone to predict, even those with the trained eye, like NFL scouts, player personnel executives and general managers. I think what you need to keep in mind is Buffalo has every intention of keeping Tyrod Taylor for the long term provided he continues on his current trajectory of performance.

And there’s no reason to think that he won’t. People are wondering why a contract extension hasn’t happened yet for Tyrod. I personally think it benefits both parties to wait for a few reasons.

First, Buffalo’s cap situation for 2016 is not conducive to working out a long term extension for Taylor. The market value at his position alone makes such an undertaking difficult for year one of an extension, which would be in 2016.

Second, the Bills, understandably so, want to see more from Taylor before they make a sizable commitment to Taylor. There’s recent Buffalo history where they jumped the gun in handing out a long term deal to a QB (see: Ryan Fitzpatrick).

I think the Bills want to believe in Taylor as their starting quarterback, but one year of solid production isn’t enough to go on when you’re talking about the multi-million dollar commitment a quarterback contract demands.

Third, Taylor stands to get a much more lucrative contract from Buffalo if he can back up last year’s production with even more production and wins in 2016.

So while it’s true that Taylor’s agent can stand on the table and argue that his client is underpaid this year at $3-plus million for 2016, even he knows that waiting and letting his client perform and build more of a starting QB resume this fall will only benefit his negotiating duties in getting Taylor a lucrative long term contract.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-1

Posted by Chris Brown on April 1, 2016 – 12:16 pm

Back from vacation to resume our weekly Fan Friday forum. The draft is now less than a month away. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Do you see the Bills improving on Defense this year? They lost a couple guys but I don’t think they could fall any further.

iamthelegenddd

CB: I think a lot will hinge on what the Bills are able to add to the roster defensively via the draft. I believe they have to come away with at least two plug and play starters on defense. Buffalo has eight picks and they’ve done a good job of late of finding instant contributors beyond the first round (Darby, Woods, Alonso, Brown, Karlos, Miller). If that continues in this year’s draft I’m optimistic they can rebound from last season’s disappointing results.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills what moves will be made next year in order to pay Tyrod and Gilmore?

9thekid

CB: Contrary to popular thinking the Bills cap situation for 2017 is quite healthy. Last I checked Buffalo was projected to be about $50M under the cap next offseason, which should afford them more than enough space to handle sizable long term extensions for both Gilmore and Taylor.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills qb to develop behind taylor, who in the draft would it be? cardale, hogan, hack or cook? #billsfans

Srothenburgh

CB: I think among the quarterbacks you mentioned the only one that gives me pause is Kevin Hogan. While GM Doug Whaley is right about Hogan’s pro readiness having worked in a pro-style system and his vast game experience at Stanford, I just can’t see his throwing arm allowing Buffalo to do all the things they do with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.

I watched Hogan throw at the NFL Combine with my own eyes and while I respect his game, I can’t get past his lack of arm strength. He’s a strict West Coast system, horizontal passing game QB. That’s not what the Bills do. They drive the ball down the field a good deal with Sammy Watkins. That element of Buffalo’s passing game is critical to their success.

That’s why I can’t see them drafting a quarterback that isn’t capable of executing those kinds of plays. Cardale Jones certainly has the arm strength to do that. Hackenberg’s arm strength is good enough, though he probably needs some refining of his mechanics, and Cook has demonstrated enough examples in the Michigan State offense that pushed the ball downfield to convince me he could handle that as well.

So I’d say those other QBs you listed would all be on the table for Buffalo.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills in your opinion what’s more important need in draft LB’er or true NT, true 3-4 DE for Rex system?

rockydm92

CB: I think we need to take into account not only Rex’s system, but the offensive trends in the league and where the depth on Buffalo’s roster lies. Right now there is not only no depth at linebacker, but limited options for starters.

I think the most pressing need position is LB, but there is a need for an additional pass rusher and those players go early. So although LB is the bigger need, the value in drafts typically dictate that you get your pass rusher first and second level players later.

Of course if the right value at LB falls into their lap at 19 (e.g. Ragland, Lee) you can make a very good argument to take them in round one.

As for nose tackle, it’s a deep defensive tackle draft, so if there is a position where Buffalo can afford to wait it’s there as the talent goes into the fourth round this year.

 

5 – Hey Chris,

I am curious about Jaylon Smith with this most recent news he will miss at least the whole 2016 season and maybe more, he was easily my favourite player entering the draft before all of this happened, how far in the draft do you think he could fall and do you think the Bills would have any interest should they have a chance at selecting him? Also should a receiver like Laquon Treadwell still be available at the Bills selection do you think they would go that direction over an offensive tackle or a defensive player ? Thank you.

Alexander, Toronto

CB: I think a lot will depend upon the medical re-check that takes place on April 14-15th in Indianapolis where doctors will perform a full examination on his surgically repaired knee again after taking an initial look in late February.

Doctors will be assessing his progress over those six weeks between exams and put together a prognosis for his future playing career. Teams will have their own physicians formulate their best opinion on what kind of career Smith can expect to have and develop an appropriate draft grade off of that.

The first installment of our On the Clock series focused on the medical component of the pre-draft process last month and highlighted Jaylon Smith’s situation and how it was not all that different from Willis McGahee.

Whether he’ll be a first round pick will hinge on how team doctors believe Smith can recover. He told NFL Network’s Mike Mayock at the Notre Dame pro day this week that he’s leg pressing 600 pounds and squatting 400 pounds. But it will all come down to the medical.

I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think Laquon Treadwell will be a day one pick. So I don’t see the Bills or anyone else taking him in the first 31 selections.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-18

Posted by Chris Brown on March 18, 2016 – 11:55 am

It’s March Madness Bills fans, but there’s still stuff to discuss with Buffalo’s football team. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Will Greg Salas see himself inserted into the Hogan role in the offense, or will the Bills look to the draft/FA?

vapor311

CB: As we covered on Buffalobills.com this week Salas is certainly a bona fide candidate to assume the role previously held by Chris Hogan. He has a familiarity with receivers coach Sanjay Lal and he’s a very clever receiver with size and strong hands.

There are other wideouts on the roster (Greg Little, Jarret Boykin) who figure to be part of that competition as well, but Salas has experience in that kind of role albeit limited experience.


2 –
@ChrisBrownBills Chris what’s the plan with little salary cap they have left? They are in need of lot position LE MLB ROLB WR RT.

Billsdiehard12

CB: I think a lot depends on what’s still out there and whether they deem it a fit in their defense. I don’t see right tackle being addressed with good news recently about Seantrel Henderson’s undisclosed illness. Indications are he’s managing well and should be good to resume his career after his 2015 season was cut short. The Bills have also tendered RFA OT Jordan Mills, so odds are he’s back in the fold as well.

Buffalo had their first defensive free agent visit in safety Robert Blanton, who would provide good depth at the position at an affordable price. I would also anticipate a heavy defensive draft for Buffalo and now that they have two extra compensatory picks in the fourth and sixth rounds they’ll be able to address some more holes.

And before you dismiss mid to late round picks remember that Nigel Bradham was a fourth-round pick, Karlos Williams was a fifth-round pick and Seantrel Henderson was a seventh-round selection.

But I think the Bills will look for affordable options in free agency knowing there’s not much cap room to play with having to commit a bit over $5M to their rookie pool.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills where do #Billsgenerate pass rush? Or do they plan on generating free rushers via scheme/zero blitzes? (Like last yr )

JoeBryantIII

CB: I think with Rob Ryan expected to oversee more of the defensive formulation week to week during the season you can anticipate more frequent blitzing. That’s been his M.O. Now that doesn’t mean they won’t turn to other means of generating a pass rush, but I feel most comfortable in anticipating a higher percentage of blitzes knowing Buffalo only blitzed about 20 percent of the time last season.
4 – Chris, you da man!

Your coverage and insight keep me and other bills fans going during the offseason.
I’m wondering if you think it makes sense to take treadwell at 19 if he falls? I keep hearing about how deep the draft is at D-line so we still may be able to get value with some later picks. I think treadwell and Watkins are perfect compliments to each other and giving a young QB as many weapons as possible is never a bad move in my eyes. If he’s there, do you think it’s a real possibility? Thanks!

CB: Thanks for the kind words and your readership. In a draft where the receiver talent is not good (Arizona HC Bruce Arians called it the worst WR draft he’s seen in 20 years) it’ll be interesting to see if Treadwell’s value gets inflated due to a lack of supply.

If he lasts to 19 overall where the Bills sit I don’t see Buffalo taking even the best wideout in the draft. I just believe there will be plenty of value at positions of more dire need on defense for the Bills to choose from. I’m not saying that need will trump value, I just think there will be players of comparable value to Treadwell at 19 that will lead Buffalo in a different direction there, presumably defense.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills Is trading McCoy an option?

sammydipro

CB: It’s not a realistic option at this point because moving him off your roster would leave more than $15M in dead cap money on Buffalo’s books. McCoy’s 2016 base salary was also guaranteed effective March 9th. So while some might be disenchanted with what transpired off the field and in a knee jerk fashion want to release the running back, I think we need to let the legal process take its course before anyone passes judgment of any kind.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-11

Posted by Chris Brown on March 11, 2016 – 11:33 am

Free agency is up and running, but the Bills will be watching the action for the most part. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills hey Chris how does cap for bills look next year ??

mok186946

CB: Right now the 2017 cap for the Bills looks very healthy. If we conservatively estimate that the cap goes up $10M next year to $165M then Buffalo currently has more than $50M in cap space ($112M plus in cap commitments). Now a good portion of that figures to be gobbled up by long term contracts (hopefully) for Cordy Glenn, Stephon Gilmore and Tyrod Taylor, but they will still be in a better position next year than they are right now.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills What will the Bills do at WR, especially after losing Hogan to that big deal to the Patriots?

KevinMassare

CB: Buffalo currently has nine receivers on the roster. They added size and physical play, something they needed, with the additions of Jarrett Boykin, Greg Little and Greg Salas, who all stand 6-2. Salas is a player that I believe can capably fill the role Hogan held in Buffalo and perhaps offer more production.

Salas has a feel for the game that I don’t know if Hogan has yet just based on the fact that he played only one year of college football. Yes, Boykin and Little have bounced around a bit in their NFL careers, but both are big physical receivers that can box out defenders in the red zone. That’s an area where Buffalo had to add more muscle to improve their scoring efficiency. We’ll see how they fare in training camp.

As for adding there, this year’s draft class is not very strong. It lacks the explosiveness and pure speed that the past few draft classes have offered at receiver.
3 – @ChrisBrownBills upcoming contracts for Glenn, Gilmore, Taylor. Will Bills look at drafting OT or CB high in case they can’t re-sign one?

nywvfl

CB: It’s my belief that aside from quarterback, the only other offensive position the Bills figure to address in the draft is offensive line. I just don’t think it’s predicated on what may or may not happen in the way of a long term contract for Cordy Glenn.

I think adding a cornerback or two is a strong likelihood in the draft because the depth behind the top three (Gilmore, Darby and Robey) is largely unproven. Fortunately for the Bills it’s a great cornerback class this year.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills how much cap room does Buffalo have to create/need just to sign rookies in the draft?

BmoreBillsfan

CB:
Essentially it’s the money they have under the cap right now (about $5M) with a little left over. If they do not match the offer sheet for Chris Hogan (and they’re not expected to) it would provide a little more space. The thing to remember is that only the top 51 salaries count toward the cap. So for the lower draft choices the only part of their salary that counts toward the cap would be their pro-rated signing bonus, which would be minimal in the tens of thousands of dollars.

 

5 – @ChrisBrownBills :Bradham, Brooks, McKelvin gone to the Eagles hole in the defense are starting to become more apparent. Who fills the holes?

rosenbarker

CB: I would say there’s a good chance a couple of draft choices fill a couple of holes and then some younger players on the roster fill a couple of others. I liked Max Valles’ pass rush ability coming out of Virginia and think he’d be a nice fit in a 3-4 at OLB. Is he a starter or a situational guy? That’s to be determined in training camp.

Brooks was largely a special teams player and McKelvin was a reserve corner behind the starters. Those are depth roles that the Bills personnel department has shown an ability to fill before (See: Nickell Robey, Seantrel Henderson, Karlos Williams etc.).


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-4

Posted by Chris Brown on March 4, 2016 – 11:35 am

Sitting on the cusp of free agency the Bills are not expected to be early big money players at all. It will be interesting to see which of their RFAs they tender by Wednesday. Here are your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills hey Chris being that were fully going back to Ryan’s style of D who is gonna be the QB of this D? AW?

miosi37

CB: Rex Ryan told us at the NFL Combine that he wants Preston Brown to step up run the defense. Brown surprisingly had some missteps in running the scheme last season to the point where Manny Lawson had to take over late in the season. But here’s what Ryan said about Brown last week in Indy.

“I think if everything stays the same and we have all our players back then Preston has to be more vocal and there has to be more ownership that way,” Ryan said. “It’s not good enough to just know your job. You’ve got to bark it out and be the quarterback back there. And he can do it. He’s a smart enough kid and his dad is a football coach. So he’s got to come out of his shell. David Harris was a quiet guy, but on the football field he ran the whole thing. He’s got to grow into it. It doesn’t happen overnight. I think when you come into a new system it’s tougher to play, but yeah I expect Preston to be able to take that step and he needs to.”
2 – @ChrisBrownBills If Incognito is lost in FA’cy, do you think they slide Miller to LG and try and fill RG with draft or veteran FA?

rockydm92

CB: I don’t know if they flip Miller to the other side. I think their preference is to let him progress at right guard. As for replacements if negotiations go nowhere with Incognito, I would expect a veteran free agent to be signed.
3- @ChrisBrownBills How likely is it Whaley would take a chance at Nkemdiche at 19? Some teams apparently think he’s undraftable

iamFlowbee

CB: I would be very surprised if they took a chance on Nkemdiche. Here’s why. Buffalo just got rid of a player who was a headache in terms of work ethic and effort on the game field in Mario Williams. You want to replace him with the same type of player? Nkemdiche has oodles of talent, but even he admitted that he took plays off and was lazy.

I wouldn’t be surprised if his lousy effort on the field hurt him more than his still – it all doesn’t add up – night at his Atlanta hotel room where he was charged with drug possession, admitted to being drunk, fell out his hotel room window and according to police reports was paranoid when police arrived on the scene.

When teams make an investment in a player in the form of a draft pick, they want to know what they’re going to get from the player on every snap, every Sunday. If there’s doubt as to what they’ll get on the field nothing will hurt a player’s draft stock more, short of a failed physical. Can’t physically play might be the only thing worse than no passion to play.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills I read that a NFL GM felt Bills cap management had been criminal. Do you see that they have mismanaged their cap? I don’t.

XKC4338

CB: It is a little disappointing to see some of the reports that were out there concerning the Bills cap situation. Yes, they were tight against the cap here in 2016, but they had some pretty straightforward ways to maneuver things and create some necessary space.

All the talk about them being in cap jail for 2017 is also off the mark too. If the cap goes up $10M as it has the last couple of years to $165M, Buffalo will be about $50M under the cap. Obviously that will be subject to change if Cordy Glen signs a long term deal, as well as Incognito, Gilmore and Tyrod Taylor. But to say right now they’re in bad shape for 2017 is just inaccurate.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills the going rate for a starting qb $16-18M per year is @TyrodTaylor really worth that & worth the risk?

cp382

CB: I think that’s why the Bills want to see him play more in 2016 before deciding if he is worth that kind of money. As we covered on Buffalobills.com Thursday an extension for Taylor is no easy call because effectively pegging his true market value after playing just 14 games is beyond difficult. There are certainly a lot of encouraging signs, but it’s simply not enough of a body of work.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-26

Posted by Chris Brown on February 26, 2016 – 10:49 am

Our NFL Combine coverage presented by NAPA Auto Parts continues today from Indianapolis both on Buffalobills.com and on the John Murphy Show. For now here are your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Dear Chris,
First off, I’d like to say I appreciate everything you do to keep us Bills die hards informed during the off season.

My question is with a lot of needs to be addressed and not too much cap room to use in free agency do you see the bills trading down in the draft to acquire more draft picks? You keep hearing how deep the draft class is so I feel trading down will help us address a lot of our needs.
Thank you again for everything you do,
Dave G from Niagara Falls

CB: It’s interesting that you bring this up because I just asked GM Doug Whaley about that very possibility in our 1-on-1 interview on Buffalobills.com, which I made a note of in our Bills Daily Dish this morning out here at the NFL Combine.

Whaley said he’s open to adding picks if the opportunity presents itself. You’re right that with a tight cap Buffalo has to make the most of their draft picks, but right now they have just six (no seventh). So while I think they’d like to stay in the first round I don’t think they’d be opposed to moving back a few spots if it meant adding to their lot of selections.

Their cap situation is going to be pretty restrictive so adding picks to add players in what is considered a draft deep in value rather than elite talent behooves the Bills to look for deals that can land them more draft choices. And we all know Doug Whaley isn’t afraid to make a deal.

 

2 – Chris
I need your keen insight. This seems to be a good year for drafting a QB, I’m concerned if we pass at 19, when we get a chance at 51, the good ones will be gone ?? If many of the top ones don’t go in first 18, Dallas, Cleveland , San Diego, Rams, Saints etc. will grab one. My biggest fear is the Jets and Patriots draft one after us. A lot of top QB’s are aging out.

Could we sign Tyrod to a 4 year contract, if we hit on one, we will be primed to continue to win ??

Jim M.

CB: I think you might be getting a little carried away. Doug Whaley has stated more than once that while there isn’t a lot of top end, elite QB talent in this draft there is very good depth at the position for talent that he feels offers enough to develop some prospects into eventual starters. That’s a perfect scenario knowing it’s very likely that Tyrod Taylor gets an extension from the Bills after a promising first season in 2015.

That’s why I expect the Bills to wait until the middle rounds to draft a quarterback. There will be good talent in rounds three to five that can be brought along behind Taylor. I don’t get the sense that Buffalo will strike early at QB unless someone falls into their lap that they weren’t expecting.

Rounds 3-5 look like the window where picking a QB is most likely to occur based on how their draft board shakes out.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

Thank you for constantly keeping us informed over the off season.

My question is about Lesean McCoy’s contract, but also all contracts in general when it comes to the league’s personal conduct policies. If you are in violation of something and face suspension, or do something that hurts the team’s image, can that player be released without any salary or can penalty to the team? And to be more direct, can the Bills release LeSean McCoy over this incident if he is found to be at fault?

Thanks,
Paddy

CB: To my knowledge a team would not be off the hook in terms of the salary cap hit that cutting or releasing a player like LeSean McCoy would leave behind. As I understand it a player must have a morality clause in their contract that specifically states what kind of behavior would render their contract with an NFL club null and void.

As the team has stated though we should let the investigation play itself out because there are an awful lot of conflicting reports being circulated out there as to what really happened.
4 – Hey Chris’

I read an article that the Bills even with the estimated increase of the cap for the next league year expected to jump to $155 mill that the Bills are still over with the contracts they have, & the article outlines how they can free up about $27 mill of cap space by cutting some other players & or redoing their contracts.

Another way that could free up some cap space is if the Bills were to try & re-work Kyle Williams current contract. Do you think that Kyle might be willing to do so given the fact that he is coming off an injury & he is in the later stages of his career.

Many teams good at keeping a team good would probably cut someone like Kyle say if it were the Pats just to continue building for the future. So I would think it would be a good thing for both if Kyle could finish his career here in Buffalo but maybe do it at a home town discounted price. That could quite possibly put the Bills into the $30 mill + range of cap space enough to sign Glenn, Incognito, Gilmore, & Bradham to long term contracts …

Thanks for your insight !
Mr. T formally from Fort Myers now in Nashville
CB: While I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills approached Kyle about renegotiating again (they tacked another year on his deal last offseason) they’re limited in what they can do to get his cap figure down short of having him take an outright pay cut. He’s 32-years old and has a cap figure of $8M. He’s still a productive player, but injuries have been catching up with him. At the same time his leadership is valuable as evidenced by what happened to the defense after he left the lineup in Week 6.

It’ll be a tricky situation, but hopefully with as good as the Bills have been to him over the years he might be willing to reduce his salary a bit to help the cause. We’ll see if it’s a road the Bills choose to travel.

The good news is they’ve already made some salary cap headway by getting Charles Clay restructured, which we reported last night, and moved their unused cap space from 2015 in the amount of $4.4M to 2016.

 

5 – Chris,
There is lots of discussion about acquiring a possible #2 WR to play opposite Sammy Watkins, but no mention of using Dez Lewis in that role.  He has the height (6′ 4″) and plenty of speed.  Was the coaching staff still very unsure about him at the end of the 2015 season, or is he a real possibility for the #2 spot, especially if he builds up his strength during the offseason?

Mack
Rochester

CB: While I think Lewis will get a good look from the staff this offseason and in training camp, he’s really got to come on and play more consistently to make a jump that far up the depth chart. I know a lot of people weren’t overly impressed with Robert Woods season last year, but you need to remember the guy played hurt with a torn groin for almost the final three quarters of the season. His separation ability was greatly hindered by that injury. I’m interested to see how he comes back from that injury in 2016 before we start actively looking for other options there.

And at this point there are some other options now on the roster like Greg Little and Jarrett Boykin that will bear watching.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-19

Posted by Chris Brown on February 19, 2016 – 11:37 am

Our NFL Combine coverage presented by NAPA begins on Tuesday and will continue through the week from Indianapolis both on Buffalobills.com and on the John Murphy Show. For now here are your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thank you for all of your fantastic insight throughout the season.  I have a question about the Bills defensive line moving into next season.  When we line up in a 3-4, where do you suspect Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams will be located?  Also, connected to that, it seems like a lot of websites suspect we will require another 3-4 defensive end in the draft but I was wondering if you thought players such as Wynn, Carrington (if re-signed), Corbin Bryant, Worthy or Edwards could fit that bill so we could focus our draft on other needs.

-Tony
CB: I think the good thing about Dareus or Kyle is their versatility and athleticism allow you to play them as a five technique end or at nose tackle. The main reason many draftniks predict the Bills will need another defensive end is they also suspect push coming to shove with Mario Williams cost prohibitive contract.

But you do make a good point. Jarius Wynn is coming back from ACL surgery that cost him the 2015 season. I expect Corbin Bryant to be extended a qualifying offer by the Bills as a restricted free agent. Signing a difference maker at defensive end is unrealistic based on the team’s cap situation, so the draft is the most likely path for the Bills to acquire one.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

First off I thank you for answering our questions and keeping hope alive to those of us who reacted harshly after playoff elimination. (Ugh.. 16 years…)

My question is about where Buckner and Bosa likely stand on the draft board? Are there any other sizable DEs that are valued as a round one selection? In your opinion where should the Bills focus with their number one? Is there a drop off in depth enough that it becomes likely to pursue a LB instead of the D-Line? (Is that already likely given uncertainty with Bradham?) Finally do you foresee finding our true #2 WR in this draft class?

-Already hoping in OR

CB: I don’t expect Buckner or Bosa to still be on the board when the Bills pick 19th. With respect to their top pick in round one, I think the safe assumption is they address the defensive side of the ball. I think picking a position however, is unrealistic.

I think we can all agree that the deepest defensive position in the draft is probably defensive line, so that’s a good thing for the Bills, who will likely need to add there with Mario Williams uncertain future and Kyle Williams now on the back end of his career. But to say they’ll pick a defensive lineman isn’t something anyone can accurately predict now or even in mid-April.

We have to see what decisions are made with players on the roster now, who is added and where in free agency in March and what Bills free agents are re-signed. All those variables can change the draft picture considerably before we get to late April.

As for finding a true No. 2 WR in this class, I think it’s possible, but not likely based on some of the other positional needs particularly on defense that appear to be more pressing at this point. May have to stop gap that role in 2016 and address it more effectively in 2017. Can’t do everything in one offseason.

 

3 –@ChrisBrownBills

If we cut Mario, sign Glenn/Richie…what’s realistic for rest of FA? Eric Weddle or Damon Harrison possible?

iamFlowbee

CB: If those things happen the Bills are going to have to be bargain shoppers even if they make a few other cuts to the roster to save money against the cap. That means Weddle is not expected to be an option. Damon Harrison is possible provided there isn’t a heavy market interest in him.

That’s why GM Doug Whaley said they’re looking for ‘dust settle’ guys. Guys who they can sign without getting into a bidding war. For reference I would look at the kind of players they signed in the 2014 offseason. Players like Corey Graham, Brandon Spikes, Boobie Dixon. Affordable, budget-conscious free agents that can come in and fill a role and improve the depth of the club without messing up the team’s cap situation in the current season and the season or two that follows.

 

4 – Chris,

Do you think Nick O’Leary will get more looks at Tight End in the upcoming season? Also it seemed that Seantrel Henderson was getting praised for his play his rookie year, but was much maligned this past season. Has he regressed that much or is it the system change that troubled him?

Thanks,
Chris G. from Nashville
CB: I think seeing Nick O’Leary called up to the active roster late in the season was an encouraging sign for the kind of look he’ll get this offseason and in training camp. I don’t think it’s any secret that no one really seized the No. 2 TE role behind Charles Clay last season. O’Leary was stuck on the practice squad, MarQueis Gray suffered a forearm injury that required surgery and wound up on injured reserve and Chris Gragg only flashed at times with limited opportunities to make a true impact.

Seantrel Henderson regressed because he was dealing with an undisclosed medical condition that kept him out of the last five games of the season. Whether he’ll be able to get his condition under control so he can effectively continue his career is something we’ll all be waiting to see this spring.


5 –
@ChrisBrownBills

I keep hearing about Incognito and Glenn, but is Bradham a priority for the Bills? #Bills #FanFriday

Josh_McCarty28

CB: The Bills have said it’s their preference to get Nigel Bradham back in the fold for the foreseeable future. At the same time they know that with a tight cap situation and depending on the size of the contracts for Glenn and Incognito, being able to offer Bradham a contract commensurate with fair market value might be easier said than done.

If Bradham reaches the market because the Bills can’t offer quite the money he might be looking for due to their cap situation then it might prove difficult to get him re-signed.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 2-12

Posted by Chris Brown on February 12, 2016 – 11:36 am

The new league year is underway and deadlines for offseason business is closing in. Let’s get to your questions this week from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

How soon do you think we’ll either re-sign @68INCOGNITO or @cordyglenn77? Hopefully both. Any word?

EJMiller707

CB: I believe the Bills will make every effort to return both of them to Buffalo’s offensive line. But as we know it takes two to get a deal consummated. Initial talks have begun, but things typically don’t get down to brass tacks until the week of the NFL Combine. That’s when Jim Overdorf and Doug Whaley can meet face to face with agents who are in Indianapolis for the week. It’s then that concrete parameters are usually set and more intense negotiations ensue.
2 – @ChrisBrownBills

If McCoy is suspended, however long it is, how well could the Bills run the ball without him with Williams and Gillislee?

sam_decoste

CB: I understand the concern about Buffalo’s run game, and if there is a real possibility that there will be time where they will be without the services of McCoy in 2016, then the team will probably have to address the void in some way, shape or form. And they’d have to do it by acquiring a versatile back.

The Bills could survive a couple of games with Williams and Gillislee, but truly contending could prove difficult if a McCoy absence lasts longer than that. That being said the Bills were 3-1 with McCoy out of the lineup last season.

 

3 – Chris,

Hypothetical of course.  Just what if, with all the defensive needs and offensive tackle needs, Laquon Treadwell and/or Connor Cook were available at pick 19?  How are we going to fill our need at receiver?  Not in free agency as per Whaley’s statement and later in the draft will not fill that need either.

Jim (Skaneateles)
CB: I think it’s too early to determine right now how filling receiver would be addressed. Doug Whaley made it clear that he believes they have sufficient talent on the roster now to fill the No. 2 WR role with a collection of players, Robert Woods chief among them. What that statement says to me is – while in an ideal world the Bills would love to have a legit No. 2 WR to line up opposite Sammy Watkins, it’s just not a top priority.

You can’t fill every hole in one offseason and right now Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, defensive line and linebacker are all clearly ahead of No. 2 receiver on the team’s offseason priority list. With a measure of uncertainty at safety one might even put that position ahead of No. 2

So where the Bills are is if the higher priority needs can be effectively addressed between now and the draft and the right opportunity presents itself, then perhaps drafting a WR capable of filling that role could happen. I just wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.

 

4 – Chris,
With The Rams moving to LA, do you think there’s a possibility that the AFC division’s might change? If so, do you think they’ll move the Bills out of the AFC East. Maybe to the AFC North (which might make more sense)?

Thanks,

Mike Barwick

CB: I would not anticipate realignment at all. The Rams play in the NFC West, so their current division location makes even more sense geographically with Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle all in their division.

 

5 – CB,

If the team moves on from Bradham, Demario Davis is a player that has been linked to the Bills. Can the team afford Davis, who knows Rex’s scheme well and be the ‘field general’ in the front seven. He won’t be a huge player on the market but maybe more worth it to the Bills than other teams. Would he bit a fit next to Preston Brown?

Josh P.

CB: I think he would be a consideration, but as Doug Whaley has said they won’t be early spenders in free agency. They’re looking for dust settle guys. If Demario Davis is pursued by other clubs early Buffalo will not get into a bidding war, especially for a linebacker that many NFL talent evaluators see as a two-down player.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-29

Posted by Chris Brown on January 29, 2016 – 11:23 am

Senior Bowl on Saturday and Pro Bowl on Sunday with three Bills participating. As for today let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills for this week’s edition.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Reported that DeMario Davis, ILB for the #Jets is set to hit FA. Had down yr, but excelled w/ Rex. Top FA target?

BrettsterBills

CB: Yes, I did see that. According to the reports the Jets intend to re-sign Erin Henderson instead of Davis. To me they’re not all that different. Henderson is just two years older and will likely come cheaper. Most NFL scouts see Davis as a two-down linebacker. As you mentioned he had a down year and struggled when put in coverage situations. Personally I think Nigel Bradham is a more versatile linebacker.

As Doug Whaley said, they’re looking for dust settle guys. If Davis goes untouched through the initial wave of free agency, which is certainly possible, and his price isn’t exorbitant then he could be an option.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills is there still a working group studying long-term stadium options for the Bills? What’s the latest?

lophus89

CB: To my knowledge the New Stadium Working Group still exists, but I will reiterate what Bills President Russ Brandon shared at the Prospectus Premiere event Thursday night about the prospects for a new stadium.

He essentially said at this time there are no planning meetings, no land grabs and no feasibility studies taking place. The Bills have a lease that runs until 2022 and the state and county just invested a sizable amount of money into renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium.

If you remember the New Stadium Working Group was quickly assembled in the wake of Mr. Wilson’s passing because the future of the franchise in Buffalo was uncertain. The NSWG would need to have answers in the event that a new owner sought to relocate the team during the one year opt out portion of the lease in 2020 to help convince the new owner to keep the team in Buffalo.

Once the Pegulas successfully purchased the Bills that threat went away. Terry and Kim Pegula are committed to the city and keeping the team here. So the urgency to map out a future home for the Bills just isn’t there at this time.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills do you think the hiring of Rob Ryan will benefit the Bills or just lead to another rebuild?

Cmoney111196

CB: Here’s why I see the addition of Rob Ryan as a benefit. Rex implicitly trusts his brother in every facet of football. With Rob as Assistant head coach/Defense, Rex will be able to focus more on the big picture responsibilities of being a head coach. Rex can hand the reins of the defense to his brother and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman during the course of the week and on Sunday Rex can still call the plays.

I also believe Rob will serve as an added motivator for Rex. Both of them are very disappointed with how their 2015 seasons went with respect to defensive performance. Putting the two of them together will only inspire them more to redeem themselves in 2016 with Buffalo’s defensive unit.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills What’s the better option? WR in free agency or the draft?

orlandoweise

CB: Here are the things you need to consider when assessing whether the Bills sign a receiver in free agency or acquire one in the draft. First, where is receiver on their positional priority list?

Sure Doug Whaley would like to add a bona fide No. 2 receiver to work opposite Sammy Watkins, but that comes at a price when dealing with free agents. I think the steps we’ve seen the Bills take already at receiver signing Greg Salas, Jarrett Boykin and Greg Little is similar to that of their approach at quarterback last year.

Create a competitive environment and hope you can strike gold with a player stepping up and filling a role at a very affordable price. All three of those players bring size to the equation, which is another element that Buffalo is looking to add to their receiving corps.

The free agent class at receiver is limited at best. Free agents, who are likely to still be available when the dust settles are players like Rishard Matthews, Brandon Gibson and Darrius Heyward-Bey. They are not going to be names that excite you. So Buffalo took the proactive approach and signed a few reserve/future free agents in Salas, Boykin and Little in the hopes that one emerges.

Now one of those guys might not be the true No. 2. Heck, I think Robert Woods is probably better than all of them. But if Woods can work primarily in the slot opposite Charles Clay and one of the three aforementioned wideouts can prove they deserve the job outside opposite Sammy Watkins you could be in business.

Is that a big ‘if’? It most certainly is, but with a tight cap situation, two starting offensive linemen to re-sign and some holes to fill on defense that might be the only realistic course to take.

I know this is a long way of saying it, but if the Bills are going to add any more talent at receiver it’s probably coming via the draft.

 

5 – Chris,

My question is about the future of Stephon Gilmore. I understand he is under contract until the end of next year, but after that do you think they’ll extend him?

He is going to want top 3-5 CB money.

If we can sign Glenn and need a huge contract for Taylor, where is this money coming from to sign a top 3 CB?

Not to mention there is no way to sign Gilmore and Darby if he continues to play at this level.

The way I see it, is the writing is on the wall with Gilmore. He plays out next year, wants top 3 money and there will be a team willing to give it to him. With his replacement on the team. I see this as his last year with Bills!! Thoughts?

Dave from Buffalo

CB: I wouldn’t throw in the towel on Gilmore being gone after 2016 just yet. By picking up the fifth-year option on Gilmore they’ve given themselves time to address his contract long term. The average salary of the top cornerback contracts is just over $11M per season.

I don’t debate that it will be a sizable investment to keep him long term. You’re right Tyrod Taylor will be the other big contract. The thing with Taylor’s contract and Gilmore’s is you can spread the money out over a six or seven-year period, which lessens the blow to the team’s cap.

Also helping is the fact that the salary cap is going up at a rate of close to $10M per season with the revenue continually pouring in. Add in the fact that the only other notable contracts that will be up in 2017 are Robert Woods and Manny Lawson, who will be 32-years old at that time, and it’s reasonable to think you can get Gilmore and Taylor done.

Darby is a player you don’t have to worry about until 2019.


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Posted in Inside the Bills