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

Incognito’s goal: Come back & play in Buffalo

Posted by Chris Brown on January 28, 2016 – 10:41 am

Bills Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito has already been deemed a top offseason priority by GM Doug Whaley as they try to get him re-signed knowing he’s a key member of their offensive line. Set to become an unrestricted free agent in March, Incognito reiterated his desire to re-sign with the Bills.

Appearing on the John Murphy Show Wednesday night, Incognito talked about why it’s important for him to continue his career in Buffalo.

“I’m anxious. I’m anxious to see what happens,” said Incognito of his contract negotiations. “My goal is to come back and play in Buffalo. I love it there. I love my teammates and I love playing for coach Rex and Greg Roman. I really think that my personality and my hard work approach and physical nature really resembles the spirit of Buffalo. A blue collar town and a bunch of hard working people up there, and they just want to win. That’s my number one goal is just to win and restore the glory of Buffalo. I hope it all works out and I hope I’m back there real soon.”

The top 10 guard contracts in the NFL average about $7M per season. Where Incognito fits on the guard pay scale at age 32 remains to be seen.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Dialogue to begin with Bills free agents

Posted by Chris Brown on January 27, 2016 – 8:47 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley and Buffalo’s player personnel and college scouting staffs will be at the Senior Bowl in Mobile all week, but the organization will be getting started on preliminary talks with their upcoming free agents.

“Last week we had the year in review with the coaches and going over the roster,” said Whaley. “(Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim Overdorf is going to reach out and starting touching base with all the free agents. Not just the restricted free agents, but the unrestricted guys as well and touch base with their representatives and get the ball rolling.”

Among the top priorities are Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito, who are both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. As is typically the case, the club just wants to reach a fair and equitable deal for both sides, especially with Glenn and Incognito knowing how important it is to get both back in the fold for 2016 and beyond.

Whaley was asked specifically about how quickly a deal could get done for Incognito, who is headed to the Pro Bowl this weekend.

“We’re always going to try to get a deal where both parties feel like they won and are happy,” said Whaley. “We want Richie and his representatives to walk away from a deal that we have and we’re both smiling and saying, ‘It was fair.’ That’s how we look and attack every negotiation.”

Buffalo’s restricted free agents are all relatively important names moving forward as well. How the Bills will pick and choose whom to tender from the list below will be interesting.

Bills RFAs
DT Corbin Bryant
DT Stefan Charles
TE MarQueis Gray
WR Chris Hogan
OT Jordan Mills
S Bacarri Rambo


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-22

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2016 – 12:07 pm

Some coaching hires for the staff the last week or so. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills What’s the biggest lesson learned between Wk1 and Wk16 defensively with this team?

vapor311

CB: I think the biggest lesson learned by the players was that if there was more accountability player to player on defense, there would’ve been unanimous buy in and the defense would’ve performed more consistently and been more effective in Ryan’s scheme. That didn’t happen until after the embarrassing defensive performance at Washington when the players that did buy in called out the players who didn’t. We saw improved collective play from the defensive unit after that.

I believe the biggest lesson learned by Rex and the coaches is just how multi-faceted a lot of their defensive talent is particularly some of their defensive linemen like Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes specifically. Dareus and Williams are athletic enough to play end in a 3-4 look and Hughes can be an end in a 4-3 look or an OLB in a 3-4. He’s that versatile.

There are other examples at LB and in the secondary, but Rex has expressed that a year with those players has provided him with a better grasp of everything that players like that can do, not just their primary strengths.

 

2 – Hey Chris,

Here is my concern. It seems to make more sense for a coach to change their scheme to fit the players than change the roster to fit the scheme. Why has Rex Ryan, the great defensive mastermind who was figured out and canned in NY, been reluctant to implement a scheme where our star defensive line can pass rush like they have proven they are good at doing and rely upon a better cover based defense? We consistently get beat while trying to change in and out of “complex” blitz packages that always seem to come up short while letting the QB find a quick under or hot route. What should we expect for the future I’m so desperately trying to not give up on? Suddenly find myself hoping for a Sean Payton and Jim Schwartz led team and I can’t stand the coaching turnovers.. But I have to admit Ryan’s defensive scheme is old news…

-Losing faith in OR

CB: Rex took steps to try and mold his defensive scheme to the talent of the personnel. As mentioned above Ryan admitted that he is in a much better position to coach to some of the players’ versatile strengths now that he knows the depth of their talents having worked with them for a year. I know that’s small consolation in light of how the defense underachieved, but I don’t think it’s something that should be taken lightly.

Rex referenced Jerry Hughes specifically saying he now realizes that Hughes is so much more than a hand in the dirt type, rush the passer player. That he can do a number of different things well. He also said the big difference he noticed at the end of the season was that players were finally giving him answers when he asked for their opinion.

It was his contention that his offer to the players from the very beginning of the season to give him feedback fell on deaf ears until the last two games. Rex in making in-game adjustments would ask for the opinion of the players. Until the Dallas game he said those appeals were not met with answers and he couldn’t understand why.

Once he got some more input from players we saw the difference. Buffalo’s last two games were their best back-to-back defensive performances of the season in terms of points allowed (6 and 17). And that was without a handful of defensive starters (Darby, Gilmore, A. Williams, K. Williams, Bradham). So Ryan is encouraged that the proper give and take now exists between the players and himself and the value of that should not be discounted.

 

3 – Happy New Year Chris:

Do you think the Bills organization will make a play for Miami Dolphins Olivier Vernon?

Thanks from a true Bills fan in NewportNews, Va.
Gary Truesdale

CB: I would be surprised if the Bills pursued Olivier Vernon only because he’s going to command a sizable price tag and GM Doug Whaley has made it clear that they’re going to be pursuing “dust settle” type free agents. The focus this offseason will be for the Bills to re-sign their own, chiefly Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn.

Buffalo’s cap situation needs some restructuring this offseason before we reach free agency and Bills Senior VP of Football Administration, Jim Overdorf will be tasked with that as he has in the past. But knowing the priorities that Incognito and Glenn are combined with their cap situation I wouldn’t expect to see a top tier free agent like Vernon to be on the Bills radar.

 

4 – 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 do believe the Bills will make efforts to land a true No. 2 receiver that can draw attention away from Sammy Watkins. Robert Woods played more than half the season with a severe groin injury and might be best suited for the slot. Percy Harvin is a player the Bills would like to return to the fold, but has to get healthy first and is not a lock to return.
I know the Bills would like to add size to the position as evidenced by the reserve/future signings of Greg Little and Jarrett Boykin. But I don’t think they’re putting all their stock in those two wideouts.

Unfortunately this year’s receiver class doesn’t offer a lot of quality size. There are 6-1 and 6-2 guys aplenty, but the 6-4 and 6-5 targets of quality just don’t exist in this year’s class. I suppose there could be a prospect or two that could possess a ‘big receiver’ game because they play bigger than their listed size. I’ve still got homework to do on the 2016 draft class, but Treadwell would be a tempting option.

Personally I don’t think Connor Cook is worthy of a first-round pick. In a draft without a lot of elite QB talent I suppose it’s possible he’ll be moved up a lot of draft boards as the draft draws closer due to supply and demand, but Treadwell is a more worthy first-round pick to me than Cook. That being said I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills found better value at another position in round one.
5 – @ChrisBrownBills What are the fates of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes? Are they staying or leaving?

TandAFootball

CB: I feel good about the playing futures of Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes in Buffalo. I’ll actually have more on Kyle Williams in a story on Buffalobills.com slated for Monday. Hughes is a cornerstone piece for this defense moving forward, which is why he was signed to the long term contract extension last offseason.

Mario Williams situation is a lot more precarious, chiefly due to his cost-prohibitive contract. I think it would be difficult for any defensive player to live up to a contract that has a cap figure of almost $20M for 2016 ($19.9M). With Buffalo’s cap situation in a restrictive position right now, addressing Mario’s contract will probably be pretty high on Jim Overdorf’s to-do list.

There are a few paths they can take with it as we all know. What kind of steps Mario and his agent are willing to take is the big question.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills open to a Harvin return

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2016 – 9:28 am

Percy Harvin’s first year with the Bills did not go how anyone had planned. A persistent hip injury compromised his weekly availability as the receiver appeared in just five games in 2015. He also has an automatic opt-out clause in his contract, which will make him a free agent against this offseason. Still, Buffalo’s front office remains interested in returning him to their receiving corps in 2016.

Bills GM Doug Whaley, appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday, indicated that the club would like to bring Harvin back once he’s got a clean bill of health.

“Absolutely. No doubt about it,” said Whaley. “Obviously the first thing for Percy is he’s got to get completely healthy. Once he’s healthy we’ll reach out to his guy and explain that we’d like to have him back. I think when he was on the field people took notice and he helped us when Sammy was out. So we would love to have him back.”

Knowing Buffalo’s tight cap situation, the Bills would probably only re-sign Harvin to a cost-conscious type contract.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Whaley: Our cap situation is pretty restrictive

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2016 – 9:18 am

Senior Bowl week is currently on the front burner for the Bills personnel department, but prior to leaving for Mobile, Alabama, the front office had a personnel meeting to discuss their offseason priorities concerning their current roster with their own free agents the focus. Naturally Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn remain at the top of the list with both set to become unrestricted free agents in less than two months. But Buffalo’s salary cap situation has to be rectified first.

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, GM Doug Whaley outlined how at the outset heading into the new league year in March, the Bills have some financial maneuvers to make as they are currently over the projected salary cap for 2016.

“Right now it’s pretty restrictive. I believe we’re over the cap,” said Whaley. “So (Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim Overdorf is going to be working really hard and work his magic. We have confidence that we’ll be able to put our best foot forward and try to get this done (with Incognito and Glenn). When you have the number one rated rushing offense in the league you want to try to keep that as stable as possible. If we can get those five guys back and maintain the continuity up front that’s not only going to keep our running game strong, but it’ll help our quarterback improve as well.”

The 2016 salary cap is projected to be somewhere between $150 and $156 million. It was $143 million and change last season after making a $10M jump in one calendar year thanks to some new large television contracts the league had brokered. Per OverTheCap.com, Buffalo currently sits at almost $158M in contract commitments that count toward the cap.

Look for the Bills to make the necessary maneuvers to put themselves in a position to re-sign the left side of their offensive line and make a few other moves they deem essential to take the next step as a team in the offseason.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 1-15

Posted by Chris Brown on January 15, 2016 – 12:04 pm

A couple of adds to the coaching staff and the roster this week. Here are your latest questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter at @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills Chris, can u see the Bills being interested in D.Harrison or H.Ngata if available in FA? Both r NTs that know Rex system

Mikeybeit

CB: While there’s no debating that Harrison and Ngata know Ryan’s defense, I think interest in Ngata and Harrison depends solely on price. I don’t see the Bills investing heavily in their defensive line with so much money tied up there already. Even if Mario Williams isn’t on the roster next year they still have some fat contracts with Dareus, Hughes and Kyle.

So the play there is to go for the affordable options and use draft choices. That probably means Damon Harrison is a more likely option than Haloti Ngata, who even at age 31 would probably command a higher price tag than Harrison, who is a role player.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills to what extent do you foresee Rob Ryan playing a part in the defense next season? #Bills

yamanboo

CB: Here’s how I see the Rob Ryan hiring playing out. After both of them had a down season in terms of defensive ranking there is great motivation by both to redeem themselves and their family name as it pertains to putting together great defensive units.

Rex trusts his brother to do right by the principles of the defense and I think Rob will probably have a heavy hand in the defensive planning. That will allow Rex to take on more of a big picture role as a head coach where he can focus more on the all-encompassing duties that job demands.

I’m not sure Rex will relinquish play calling duties on game day to Rob or anybody else for that matter, but with his title being Assistant head coach/Defense, it’s safe to say Rob Ryan will play a major role in getting this defense back to a level more typically associated with the Ryan name.

 

3 – @ChrisBrownBills Will the Ryan brothers realize that Mario Williams was right?

ItsjustJimmy

CB: I think this is what you need to consider before you blindly accept Mario Williams comments as truth. When there is a scheme change via a new coaching staff coming in there has to be 100 percent buy in from the players. If there is not 100 percent commitment, especially in a scheme as intricate as Rex Ryan’s it simply does not work.

Did Mario Williams buy into Rex Ryan’s scheme 100 percent at any point this season? When his role in this defensive scheme wasn’t to his liking did he still play to the best of his ability every snap, every week?

I will let Preston Brown answer that question for you with some comments he made with just two games left in the season after the team was eliminated from playoff contention.

“Guys have got to buy into the system, especially on the defensive side,” said Brown. “We don’t really know how good we could’ve been because everybody wasn’t doing what they were supposed to do on each play. We can’t say it was the scheme. Mentally everybody wasn’t there.

“It’s something that we have to handle. We have to understand that everybody has to be working as one and we haven’t done that this year. Everybody has been kind of doing their own agenda on our side of the ball. So it’s something that we need to get covered and handle these last couple of games and years down the road.

“Everybody keeps saying last year we were a top four defense and everybody was still thinking about last year. We’ve got to get over that. It’s not last year and guys were still thinking, ‘Oh we did this last year.’ Well we’re not doing that this year. So we’ve got to understand that we’re doing a different scheme and a different system and it works if everybody does it the right way.”

As a side note I applaud Preston Brown for revealing just what the problems were this season. There were a couple of players that compromised the integrity and effectiveness of the scheme for the sake of their own self-interest. Fortunately a couple of young players stepped forward to lead this team and called out those players so a promising season doesn’t get submarined again.

 

4 – @ChrisBrownBills what’s the chances of the #Bills holding onto Mario Williams? Should they?

TheJokstr

CB: What we do know is Mario Williams contract is cost prohibitive. His $19.9M cap figure is something that has to be re-worked through restructuring or eliminated by some other means. Buffalo has free agent priorities in Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito. Those contracts simply cannot get done without a giant contract like Williams’ being adjusted or taken care of in some other fashion.

I think most know that Mario Williams’ performance didn’t live up to his salary, and we know all too well why he feels he wasn’t effective in Rex Ryan’s scheme.

No matter which way you slice it his contract has to be addressed. I’m sure the Bills will exhaust every option to have it settled by the time they need to get Glenn and Incognito back under contract. Whether that means he’s here or not is another story.

 

5- @ChrisBrownBills Do you expect to see Buffalo run a more traditional 3-4 base defense this year, like we’ve seen from Rex in the past?

MustangMike23

CB: I don’t think it’s any secret that Rex Ryan wants to run a purer version of what has traditionally been successful for him defensively than what he ran in Buffalo this past season. He himself admitted that trying to blend some of the concepts from the 2014 Bills defense just didn’t work and had to scrap it midseason.

How far he goes in running a more traditional 3-4 will hinge on the talent turnover defensively from now until next spring. If the proper pieces are in place then it’s probably full steam ahead. If not, it might have more of a hybrid look to it like we saw in 2013 under Mike Pettine.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Official list of Bills free agents

Posted by Chris Brown on January 13, 2016 – 3:38 pm

Here is the official free agent listing for the Bills this offseason with both unrestricted and restricted free agents as well as exclusive rights free agents.

UNRESTRICTED
LB Nigel Bradham
CB Ron Brooks
DT Alex Carrington
OT Cordy Glenn
WR Leonard Hankerson
G Richie Incognito
QB Josh Johnson

RESTRICTED
DT Corbin Bryant
DT Stefan Charles
TE Marqueis Gray
WR Chris Hogan
OT Jordan Mills
LB Ty Powell
S Bacarri Rambo

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS
RB Cierre Wood


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Whaley on free agency: We won’t be busy

Posted by Chris Brown on January 5, 2016 – 10:21 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley gave strong indication that Buffalo’s foray into free agency to add to the roster won’t be nearly as headline grabbing as last year when they signed Tyrod Taylor, Richie Incognito, Jerome Felton, Percy Harvin and signed Charles Clay to an offer sheet. In fact Buffalo’s personnel boss said the local media might as well take off for the first week of free agency in March.

“Right now with where we are the focus on the offseason will probably be retaining most of everything we have (that’s not under contract),” said Whaley. “We have some guys coming up that we think will be core to what we need to go forward. So that will be the focus. Our free agency is going to be signing our own guys and again that’s a compliment to our scouting staff. We’ve drafted well enough where these guys are coming up and we want to retain them.”

Whaley confirmed that two of their top priorities to re-sign are Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Free agent pickups paint good picture for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on December 9, 2015 – 9:36 am

The Bills made some key acquisitions in the offseason on the free agent market. They didn’t break the bank, but the value they’ve gotten on their investments has been impressive. That’s why two of Buffalo’s free agent acquisitions this past offseason ranked in Pro Football Focus’ Top 10 free agent pickups list.

PFF rated both Richie Incognito and Tyrod Taylor as two of the 10 best free agent pickups in the entire league this past offseason. Incognito was rated second and Taylor was rated seventh. Here’s what they wrote.

2. Richie Incognito, G, Bills (one year, $1.1 million, 91.3 overall grade)

The Bills acquired Incognito for practically nothing in the offseason, and he has responded by producing the third-best PFF grade among guards. Incognito has been almost equally good as a run blocker (89.7) and as a pass protector (87.9), allowing just three QB hits and hurries, tied for sixth among guards is pass blocking efficiency.

7. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills (three years, $3.35 million, 78.0 overall grade)

PFF’s 12th-highest rated QB through eight weeks, Taylor may be on this list as much for how the Bills have missed him than for his above-average play on the field thus far. Taylor has posted a 75.8 accuracy percentage under pressure, which is good for second among NFL QBs through Week 8. Meanwhile, the Bills are 0-2 without Taylor, with E.J. Manuel posting a 46.4 overall grade in his absence.

Buffalo is one of just two teams with more than one player on the PFF’s top free agent pickup list. The Raiders are the other with WR Michael Crabtree and DT Dan Williams.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: Cherilus to visit Lions

Posted by Chris Brown on July 30, 2015 – 8:00 am

After being cut by the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, free agent OT Gosder Cherilus is visiting his second NFL club this week.

After a visit Wednesday with the Bills at One Bills Drive, the veteran right tackle is scheduled to visit the Detroit Lions Thursday. That according to NFL Network and multiple reports.

The Lions were the club that made Cherilus a first-round pick in the 2008 NFL draft. The tackle spent his first five seasons in Detroit before signing with Indianapolis in free agency in 2013. Detroit just placed OT LaAdrian Waddle on Active PUP as he’s still recovering from ACL surgery this past offseason.

Buffalo has just four true offensive tackles on their roster and is on the lookout for additional depth at the position.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: OT Cherilus visiting Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on July 29, 2015 – 11:47 am

The Buffalo Bills appear to be kicking the tires on a potential addition at the offensive tackle position. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport the club is hosting free agent OT Gosder Cherilus.

Cherilus was released by the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, despite finally being cleared to play again. Presumably the Bills will have him undergo a physical to see where his physical health is at for themselves. Cherilus struggled through the 2014 season with knee and groin injuries. It’s believed his high price tag was one of the main reasons for his release from Indianapolis.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

TE Mulligan doesn’t mind journeyman label

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2015 – 9:59 am

Bills newest TE Matthew Mulligan, who signed Thursday, has been with seven different NFL clubs in seven NFL seasons (practice squad year in Miami). He was with three teams last year alone, as he spent time with Arizona, Chicago and Tennessee. But if you ask Mulligan if he’s bothered by that he’s not. He doesn’t mind being called a journeyman.

In an appearance on the John Murphy Show Thursday night, Mulligan explained why he’s got no problem with a resume that has a lot of NFL clubs on it.

“It is a lot (of teams), but I’m thankful for it,” he said. “I think if it was only my second year you might think what’s going on, but in order to be a journeyman and be in your eighth year like me you have to actually have some quality play. I’m thankful for every spot I’ve been in. It’s molded and shaped me and I’m thankful to be here now.”

Mulligan believes a lot of of NFL teams in the early stages of the offseason look for tight ends that offer more “flash and dash” and can score points by making plays. Then as training camp draws closer they realize they need more of a blue collar mentality at tight end.

“Once teams gets to offseason practices or training camps teams seem to realize that they need somebody who can set the edge,” said Mulligan. “That’s what I’ve hung my hat on my entire career. Just being able to fight with those outside linebackers and those big defensive ends and I’ve been able to hold my own and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

Mulligan, who spent his first three seasons in the league on the field under Rex Ryan, explained what it is about his personal game that he thinks appeals to Ryan.

“I think Rex Ryan just wants a guy who can get his hands dirty and be physical,” Mulligan said. “That’s one of Rex’s mantras. You better be physical and bring your lunch pail every day. The physicality of my game is one of the things that stood out for him.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: Multiple teams interested in G Mathis

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2015 – 10:12 am

It was a late offseason release, but the Eagles in parting ways with veteran G Evan Mathis have opened up what sounds like widespread interest in the former Pro Bowl guard.

Earning Pro Bowl nods in each of the last two years and a 1st-Team All-Pro honor in 2013, up to a half dozen teams are interested in signing Mathis per his agent Drew Rosenhaus. Rosenhaus appeared on WQAM radio in Miami claiming that several teams have already made contact expressing interest.

While the Bills, like most other teams would see Mathis as an upgrade, it’s hard to believe Buffalo would want to get into a bidding war for Mathis’ services. The club is trying to lock up Marcell Dareus long term with what’s expected to be a landmark contract and adding a guard, albeit a pretty good one, doesn’t look like it would fit into the Bills salary cap equation.

Rosenhaus said the approach for Mathis would be a methodical one leading up to NFL training camps opening in late July.


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Report: Pats release Brandon Spikes

Posted by Chris Brown on June 8, 2015 – 10:18 am

Less than a month after signing a free agent contract with the club that made him a second round pick in 2010, Brandon Spikes is again a free agent.

That according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who is reporting that the New England Patriots have released the veteran linebacker.

ESPN is reporting there was an incident early Sunday morning involving Spikes and an abandoned car that is being characterized as a hit and run accident.

Spikes played for Buffalo in the 2014 season on a one-year contract.


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Breakdown on Buchanan’s time with Pats

Posted by Chris Brown on June 2, 2015 – 10:45 am

The Bills signed DE/LB Michael Buchanan on Tuesday, less than a week after he made a free agent visit. Buchanan, a former seventh-round pick of the Patriots in 2013, has appeared in 18 career games. Here’s how his playing time for New England breaks down.

Buchanan saw more time on New England’s defense in 2013 than last season. As a rookie he logged 122 snaps on defense for the Patriots serving primarily as a pass rusher off the edge. In fact 87 percent of his defensive snaps were in a pass rushing situation according to Pro Football Focus.

He was used in a pass coverage role just three percent of the time and run defense about 10 percent of the time. Buchanan also contributed five tackles on special teams in 2013.

Come 2014 his playing time dwindled considerably due mainly to a season-ending injury that allowed him to play in just three games. He was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 7th last season. He saw just 25 snaps on defense all season with a balanced role being used on run and pass downs. His time on special teams was also compromised by the injury.

Buchanan is likely to be used to as an edge defender in Buffalo’s 3-4 looks. His measurables fit that profile at 6-6 and 255 pounds. It will be interesting to see him develop in a system that might be just the right fit.

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: LB Spikes signs with Patriots

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2015 – 10:35 am

Bills free agent LB Brandon Spikes has chosen to sign with the team that drafted him.

According to ESPN Patriots reporter Field Yates, Spikes has signed a one-year deal with New England.

Spikes made a free agent visit with the Patriots last week. Buffalo was interested in bringing Spikes back at the right price, but GM Doug Whaley made it clear it would not be as a starter. Spikes is not likely to be a starter in New England either, but with the two starters in front of him coming off of injuries (Jerod Mayo – patellar tendon, Dont’a Hightower – labrum) Spikes stands a better chance of being on the field in New England.

Spikes was a second-round pick of the Patriots back in 2010.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-1

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2015 – 11:50 am

The 2015 NFL draft is underway so no need to drone on here. Let’s get right to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
With all the crazy coming and goings in free agency/ trades it is hard to keep track of where everyone is. I hope it might be possible, just before the draft, if you could list who we have gained and who has moved on. Thanks for a great job…
Erich

CB: Here’s a look at what was gained and lost prior to the draft this offseason.

Additions – RB LeSean McCoy, QB Matt Cassel, WR Percy Harvin, TE Charles Clay, FB Jerome Felton, G Richie Incognito, QB Tyrod Taylor.

Re-signed – DE Jerry Hughes, WR Marcus Easley, DE Jarius Wynn, WR Chris Hogan, K Jordan Gay, DT Corbin Bryant

Subtractions – OT Chris Hairston, LB Kiko Alonso, RB C.J. Spiller, OT Erik Pears, TE Lee Smith, TE Scott Chandler, S Da’Norris Searcy, LB Keith Rivers

Unsigned FAs  – LB Brandon Spikes

 

2 – Chris,
Thanks for all your great work and coverage. Do you think the Bills would consider Devin Funchess at 50? He’s super athletic and has some height that the Bills don’t have that would be great in the end zone. I think with him and the speed the Bills already have, the receiving core would be amazing.

Michael From Albany

CB: Funchess is one of the bigger enigmas in the draft. There’s no debating there’s some tantalizing talent there. Most NFL clubs see him as a receiver, and compare him to Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin. I don’t think he plays as big as Benjamin does. He doesn’t fight enough for contested balls and that was in college. NFL cornerbacks could be a rude awakening for him.

He needs to bulk up and get stronger and he doesn’t have a wide frame like Benjamin. He’s an athletic mismatch no question, but I wonder if he can handle the more physical corners and safeties in the NFL. It’s my belief the Bills will look for a tight end type later in the draft to address their in line blocking. I suppose Funchess being the talent that he is would give any NFL club pause. With all the receiving talent they’ve already added I just can’t see him being a day two pick for Buffalo.

 
3 – Hi Chris,

Great job keeping us on the Bills.  As a Bills fan I was sorry to see Scott Chandler let go.  Do you think the Bills will be able to upgrade the tight end position with current players that were back up players by trade or the draft?  I felt he was under rated and poorly used at times.  The fact that New England signed him is an indication of his worth.  Please give me the your thoughts about the reasoning behind this situation.

Arizona Bills fan,
Max F. Stolzenberg, Jr.

CB: From what I understand Chandler was simply not a fit in Buffalo’s new offensive scheme. Greg Roman’s scheme demands a versatile, athletic player at the tight end position, who can line up in the backfield, as an H-back, detached or in line at tight end. Charles Clay does all those things, so they’ve upgraded by virtue of Clay being a better fit than Chandler.

Marqueis Gray also has the potential to fit provided he continues to progress at the position. He’s athletic and versatile too. As I stated above if they do add in the draft I’m expecting them to add a blocker.

 

4 – Chris,
With the team going “all in” for this year, what are the positions of need. Rounds 2-3 are really important on hitting on. Do you expect the Bills to add a guard to potentially start? It looks like Clay will
become a Bill so tight end maybe out? Are there more defensive holes to fix at either safety (Searcy) or linebacker (Alonso). What needs are left and will they skip on best player available and go for most
NFL ready?

CB: I think offensive line is a clear focus for Buffalo. They have just three offensive tackles on their roster and need to go with five to six to training camp. Linebacker is another position in need of numbers. They’ve got just five on the roster and need to go into camp with nine or 10. They could also use another tight end.

Ideally the Bills board offers value at offensive tackle or guard when they’re on the clock at 50 and value at linebacker when they’re on the board again at 81.

As for safety they’re stocked. Duke Williams, Bacarri Rambo, Jonathan Meeks and Kenny Ladler are all young options with potential.

I asked Doug Whaley if NFL readiness with a roster like theirs took precedence over a player with the higher ceiling. He told me no, that the player who has the better upside is the way to go no matter the state of your roster.

 

5 – Chris, as always, super job.

As excited as we all are about the Bills spending spree and the new/re-signed assets, I am concerned about having the monies to get Marcel Dareus and Stephon Gilmore deals re-done before they hit free agency.  Can the Bills find the funds to keep these 2 cornerstones of the defense, who should be around for years to come?

Thomas R. Veihdeffer

CB: The extension for Dareus is priority number one right now and I’m confident they’ll accomplish that. They just picked up the fifth-year option on Gilmore, but I think it’s possible they get an extension done with him as well sooner than the timetable applied to Dareus. The reason being if they can sign him to a contract that has an average annual value that’s a couple of million less per season than the $11M figure he’ll have under the fifth-year option it’s better for their cap situation in 2016.

The Bills like a lot of teams are banking on the recent trend of the cap going up a lot again next season. It’s gone up $10M each of the last two years, which is a sizable jump. They believe they can keep both in the fold and still sign Nigel Bradham and Cordy Glenn long term as well. We’ll see.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills won’t be free agent players next year

Posted by Chris Brown on April 21, 2015 – 1:02 pm

The Buffalo Bills made some exciting trades and some aggressive moves in free agency this offseason that has the team poised to bring an end to their playoff drought. But don’t expect the flurry of activity to happen again in 2016.

Bills GM Doug Whaley all but confirmed that with the high-priced players they signed (McCoy, Harvin) and the high-priced players they re-signed (Hughes) or extended (Kyle Williams) they won’t be in a position to spend like that again next March.

“Next year the Bills fans should take vacation during free agency,” Doug Whaley told the John Murphy Show. “Our free agency now, because we’ve drafted so well turns to our own players. Marcell Dareus, Cordy Glenn, Nigel Bradham, Stephon Gilmore that will be our free agency next year. We’ll turn into the Green Bay Packers.”

Whaley knows Dareus and Gilmore will command high price tags based not only on their production, but the position they’ll play with Glenn and Bradham not far behind. That’s why the personnel department is hopeful they can land a contributing player or two late in the draft, who will be far more affordable knowing a lot of cap dollars will be tied into the elite core of players.

“With the guys we’ve paid this year and brought in and the guys we’re going to try to re-sign next offseason those guys are going to be high-priced players,” said Whaley. “So to balance that out you have to hit on some fifth, sixth or seventh round players to have that, for lack of a better term, cheap labor and balance out that top heavy end of the price structure in the cap situation with our top end players.”

 


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Fan Friday 4-10

Posted by Chris Brown on April 10, 2015 – 2:33 pm

The preseason schedule is out with the 16-game regular season slate soon to follow. More on that below. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

#bills when will the 2015 regular season be out?

bailey_pinkston

CB: The precursor to the regular season schedule, the preseason schedule was released this past Thursday. It often signals that the release of the regular season schedule is coming soon. All indications are that the league will release the regular season schedule some time during the week of April 19th.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Petty or Grayson would be the perfect game managers for Buffalo’s new offense. Thoughts please???

mattgolden03

CB: Bryce Petty and Garrett Grayson are in that second tier of quarterback prospects after the top two. Both could merit consideration in round two. While I like Petty’s football IQ I still think there will be a steeper learning curve for him than Grayson, who played in a pro-style offense.

Grayson has had to read coverages and progressions. Petty has not. And while I don’t doubt that’s something Petty has been working on it’s just not the same as when the real bullets are flying.

If you believe one of them could come in as a rookie and effectively execute Buffalo’s new offense, which has a myriad of pre-snap shifts, motions and formations I think you might be expecting too much.

Frankly for 2015 you’re better off with either Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel in my opinion, which is why I’d be surprised if Buffalo invests in the quarterback position high in the draft, if at all this spring.

 

3 – Chris,

Given the current coaching staff’s desire to build a tough running team and a physical team,  do you see Justin Blalock as a possible signing to fortify the offensive line now that he is a free agent? Also, what are your thoughts of giving money to signing Mark Ingram over say resigning Spiller. Ingram has shown he can move the chains with power, rip off long runs with quickness and catch the ball.

Thanks,
Patrick

CB: While Blalock is a more than capable veteran guard I don’t believe the Bills want to add any more veterans up front. They have three veteran guards right now in Incognito, Urbik and Chris Williams. It wouldn’t surprise me if they felt that adding another would compromise the growth of a younger player like Cyril Richardson. So if they do add at the guard position I believe it’ll be in the draft, even though I see offensive tackle as a position more in need of depth than anywhere else on the line.

 

4 – Chris,

The Kouandjio article was encouraging to see.  I like to know that some players are working all year to be better and hope it works out for the kid.

What was his problem exactly last training camp?  Was he out of shape? Difficult time reacting? Diagnosing?  You would think his college experience gave him good game speed experience.  Thanks and can’t wait for this season to start!

Steve K
Kenmore, NY
CB: Yes, John Murphy’s article, which followed an interview with Kouandjio by phone certainly painted a picture as to how hard the second-year lineman is working. He was training out in Arizona all winter working on his techniques and getting coaching from former NFL OL LeCharles Bentley.

Kouandjio didn’t place blame anywhere but on himself for how his rookie season went. He said he didn’t think he had a strong enough mindset as he began his NFL career. To a certain degree that’s understandable. He turned 21 just last July and is still young in the game. Stepping up to the NFL level was probably a bit different even than what he experienced as a starter at Alabama in the SEC.

In the conversations I’ve had with him he sounds like his whole approach to the game has changed and he’s going full bore into his second NFL season. Add in the fact that he has hit it off quickly with new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and he’ll be an interesting player to watch in training camp when the pads go on.

 

5 –  Chris,
FIve years ago I wanted the Bills to draft Ryan Mallett. He was a 1st round prospect, a Heisman candidate, a coach’s son, and a big QB like Big Ben. He fell to NE in the 3rd round, what happened? Why did the Bills not bring him in as compaction with EJ?

Tim Scouten

CB: There’s no debating that Ryan Mallett has a rocket arm for a quarterback. His over the top delivery looks great. Here’s the problem with his game. First, his accuracy. His career completion percentage of 53.2 percent is an issue, which shouldn’t happen for a quarterback with superior arm strength. His decision making is also suspect, especially when he has to get rid of the ball quick. Now every QB is subject to a bad decision or two when hurried. His have been more frequent over the years.

Perhaps the most important skill he’s lacking for Buffalo’s offense is the ability to extend the play. He is a pocket quarterback only. If the pocket breaks down and he can’t get rid of the ball the play is dead. That is not the case with each of the quarterbacks currently on Buffalo’s roster. It leads me to believe that offensive coordinator Greg Roman prefers some measure of mobility in his QBs to extend plays if and when protection breaks down.

Finally, there’s even less of a book on him than EJ Manuel. He’s played in just seven NFL games to EJ’s 14 career starts. If you bring in another unknown quantity at QB you run the risk of not finding out about exactly what he or Manuel can be.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills