Football is a game of passion. The players, the coaches, the executives, and the owners all love the game, and that’s why they put all the time and effort they have into this beautiful game. As fans, we also love the game, but don’t have as much of an opportunity to impact the game, so we tend to create hypotheticals by saying “if I were this person, I’d do this, that, and the other to improve this team”, but can’t really do anything about it. However, today, I will be “taking over” Brandon Beane’s job as general manager of the Buffalo Bills in order to control their offseason. After finding who they believe is their franchise quarterback in gunslinger Josh Allen, the Bills $80 million in cap space and above average draft capital needs to be used correctly in order to help the young star’s development.
Step 1: Upgrade the Offensive Line
In his rookie season, Josh Allen was often rushed in the pocket, causing him to tuck the ball and run which would expose him to injuries down the line. However, adding Matt Paradis, an experienced and elite center, would give Allen more time in the pocket to go through his progressions and show off his unreal arm strength. Bills legend Jim Kelly often says that one of the reasons he had success in the NFL was due to his center Kent Hull, who spent every year in Buffalo with Kelly. The BillsMafia wants Paradis as Josh Allen’s Kent Hull, and he should be locked in long-term to snapping Josh Allen the football.
Step 2: Make a Splash
No, this does not mean go get Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell. This Bills locker room emphasizes culture and character and is not the right fit for either of them. Outside of those two playmakers, the big splashes of this offseason will be made by the elite market of edge rushers, such as Demarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark, Ezekiel Ansah, Dee Ford, and Trey Flowers (they likely won’t all hit free agency due to the franchise tag, but some will). Along with trading or releasing edge rusher Trent Murphy to save $5 million this season, the Bills should pick up one of these edge rushers to line up opposite of Jerry Hughes and put some more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Steps 3 and 4: Keep Upgrading the Offensive Line and Trade Back in the Draft
With the ninth pick in the draft, the Bills desperately need to strengthen the offensive line with as many guys as they can, so why not pick up two players with one pick? The Bills should trade their first round pick to Washington in exchange for their fifteenth pick and Brandon Scherff, the fifth year guard making about $12.5 million this season before he becomes a free agent. For a team like Washington that should be moving up the draft board to select a quarterback and has limited salary cap space, this deal could be a home run for both sides. At fifteen, the Bills should take the best tackle available, whether it be Jawaan Taylor, Cody Ford, Jonah Williams, or anyone else. With this move, the offensive line would be Dion Dawkins, Scherff, Paradis, Wyatt Teller, and the draft pick, which would be a great young offensive line to protect the face of the franchise.
*Since Scherff is one of the top guards in the league, the Bills would likely need to give up a bit more than just their top pick, so let’s say they also give up a fourth rounder (112 overall) to complete the trade*
Step 5: Stop the Run
The Bills defense was second in the league last season in total yards per game and first in passing yards per game, but they ranked sixteenth in the league in rushing yards per game. Especially with the loss of veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams, Buffalo should look to fill their need at defensive tackle with a veteran run stuffer on a two year deal to split time with Harrison Phillips, last year’s third round pick out of Stanford. A player like Brandon Mebane or Haloti Ngata, an older guy who wouldn’t cost too much but can still get the job done, especially when they don’t have to play every snap, would be the perfect fit for Buffalo.
Step 6: Use the Day Two Picks to Give Josh Allen Weapons
The Bills had some trouble at running back and wide receiver last season, not having a 700 yard rusher or receiver. However, I believe the Bills do have some talent at those positions that will have a stronger opportunity to shine with a revamped offensive line, which will allow the Bills to wait until day two of the draft to address the needs. In the second round, I’d like to see the Bills pick up N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State and add some size to the receiver position. In the third round, the Bills should address the need at running back, whether it be with Benny Snell, David Montgomery, or Damien Harris, who would likely be the ideal fit due to his connection with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
To me, these are the main steps the Bills need to take this offseason to find success. There are a few minor moves that should be made, such as adding to the tight end position through free agency and the final day of the draft, adding a veteran wide receiver, and finding some depth at the cornerback position, but these are the main moves that should be made. With the Bills unprecedented amount of cap space and high draft picks, the Bills should be able to complete these moves and be competitive not only in 2019, but for years to come.