As free agency opened last week, Buffalo Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane got right to work. It was rumored the Bills would have some money to spend and they did just that. Beane retooled the defensive line and added some help along the offensive line. He continued to add weapons for star quarterback Josh Allen. The Buffalo Bills have had one of the better free agencies among NFL teams thus far. So, let’s take a look at those moves and grade them.
Von Miller: B
The Buffalo Bills’ biggest addition was the future hall of fame edge rusher Von Miller. Miller will provide the Bills with a huge boost in the pass rush department which the team has been chasing for a while now. The Bills gave Miller big money in terms of a 6-year $120 million deal. After looking closely at it, it’s essentially a 3-year $53.5 million deal. The Bills could walk away after three years with minimal penalty because half of the contract is guaranteed in the first three years. That is a lot of money to pay a soon-to-be 33-year-old. With that said, Miller’s excellent play in his Super Bowl run with the Rams should prove the Bills are still going to get the elite version of him. If Miller were about 2-years younger this move would be an A+.
Rodger Saffold: B+
Saffold is a huge upgrade for the interior of the Bills’ offensive line. Brandon Beane said his number one priority this off-season was protecting Josh Allen. He wasted no time and inked Saffold to a 1-year $6.25 million contract. Saffold has a relatively low cap hit of around $4 million. He will be reunited with his former O-line coach Aaron Kromer who he became an All-Pro playing for in 2017. Josh Allen was the most pressured quarterback last season and still had a stellar season. Saffold will help decrease that number and should help elevate Allen’s game.
Tim Settle: A
Tim Settle was the first addition of the Bills’ off-season overhaul on the D-line. Settle was a hidden gem buried on a deeply talented Washington Commanders D-line. He has loads of potential and could form a dangerous duo with Ed Oliver on the inside. Settle was given a 2-year $9 million contract with an insanely low $2.6 million cap hit this year. With more snaps on his new team, the Bills could unlock Settle’s potential and get a stud D-tackle piece.
DaQuan Jones: C
The addition of DaQuan Jones is an okay one and gives the Bills good depth along the defensive line. I like the player but hate the contract. Beane gave Jones a 2-year $14 million deal with an average annual salary of $7 million. That is a lot of money. His cap hit this upcoming season is relatively low at $3.4 million. Next season is a different story, the Bills will be on the hook for an $8.5 million cap hit and cannot walk away because of a high dead cap hit. Jones is primarily a space eater with only 10 career sacks. He will help eat blocks for his fellow defensive linemates and linebackers but is costing a hefty amount for the Binghamton native.
Jamison Crowder: A
The Bills parted ways with their slot receiver Cole Beasley who has been a huge piece of the offense the past few seasons. They made an underrated pickup in former Jets and Washington slot man Jamison Crowder. The Bills gave Crowder a 1-year deal worth up to $4 million if he hits incentives. His base salary will be $1.2 million with a cap hit of $1.9 million. Crowder has only been able to play in 12 games each of the past 2 seasons so he will need to stay healthy. He is a low-risk high-reward bargain free-agent addition for the Bills at a quarter of the price of Beasley. Crowder also offers a nice YAC (yards after catch) ability that the Bills offense lacks.
O.J. Howard: B+
The Bills were linked to a couple of free agent tight ends as it seems they intend to run 2-tight end sets under new O-coordinator Ken Dorsey. The Bills were fans of Howard during the 2017 NFL draft and added him with a 1-year $3.5 million contract. Howard was expected to become a superstar tight end in the league after his significant presence at Alabama. He never panned out in Tampa Bay and took a backseat to Rob Gronkowski. Howard has loads of untapped potential and Josh Allen can help bring that out. Dawson Knox has sustained injuries every season since entering the league and having a guy like Howard behind him is a great option. Especially at only a $2.8 million cap hit.
Jordan Phillips & Shaq Lawson return: B
It’s been two seasons since D-tackle Jordan Phillips and D-end Shaq Lawson left Buffalo. They have not amounted to much since then and have decided to return. The money on their deals hasn’t been released but both are on 1-year deals. We can assume, especially for Lawson, they are cheap deals. They bring familiarity and some nice depth along the defensive line. Phillips posted 9.5 sacks his last season in Buffalo and the Bills could definitely use some production like that if he could recreate it. Lawson posted a career-high 6.5 sacks his last season in Buffalo, and it felt like he was on the verge of breaking out. The Bills would love him to recapture some of the breakout feeling magic. They will also bring a lot of energy to the defense.
Duke Johnson: B-
Nothing against Johnson but the addition of him compared to the almost addition of J.D. McKissic is a bit of a letdown. The Bills were in the market for a receiving running back and Johnson is a solid one. He has only played in 16 games the past two seasons so he will need to stay healthy. On a 1-year $1.27 million contract, the value is not bad for him.
Greg Mancz: B
It remains to be seen if Mancz makes the team come roster cut down time, but we’ll assume he does. Mancz is versatile and plays both guard spots and center. He signed a 1-year $1.27 million contract and could be a nice depth piece. Especially with his versatility with only a $1 million cap hit.
Overall Grade: B
Overall the Buffalo Bills did a nice job improving their team that doesn’t have many holes in it. They got a lot better along the defensive line and added a premier edge rusher in Von Miller. Besides cornerback, there is no glaring need. Brandon Beane set himself up to go after the best player available in the draft after this free agency class. Which has worked out well for him thus far.