Buffalo Bills Free Agents: Who Stays… And Goes?

Posted on February 9, 2010 by Patrick Moran

terrell owens buffalo sports dailyFor the past few weeks, our talented colleague Brian Galliford over at Buffalo Rumblings has been generously providing our readers with a Buffalo Bills’ roster breakdown by position.  I encourage all fans to check out his brilliant breakdowns by position (as well as visit Rumblings for all Bills related news and views—simply put it’s the best Bills fan site on the web).

Anyway, with the NFL season officially over and the new Bills staff seemingly in place, it’s time to (happily) start looking forward to 2010.  New head coach Chan Gailey and General Manager Buddy Nix among other decision makers have hoards of key personnel moves to ponder.

Players will be cut and/or traded in the coming month and released players from other organizations are will be brought in during the time leading to free agency.  With a new staff and front office, there’s going to be turnover—probably more so than any recent year.

Let’s start with Buffalo’s own free agents.  Who goes and who stays when the annual shopping spree commences on March 5?

Here’s one reporter’s opinion.

Unrestricted Free Agents: Ryan Denney, Chris Draft, Todd Johnson, Seth McKinney, Terrell Owens, Josh Reed, Bryan Scott, Kendall Simmons

I see a pair from this list as the Bills wanting back and neither is of the fascinating variety.  Ryan Denney may actually be better suited for a 3-4 than he ever was in the 4-3.  As my associate Galliford astutely points out, Denney’s “got the long arms and enough anchor to control blockers, and enough athleticism to be a factor as a pass rusher from the 3-4 end, a position not traditionally utilized in that capacity.”  Assuming the Bills don’t make a splash in free agency for a defensive end, it’s plausible Denney would be asked back to share snaps at end with Spencer Johnson on the opposite side of Marcus Stroud.

McKinney has zero little value as a starter but still offers usefulness.  He’s backs up center and both guard positions and considering he could be brought back for minimum salary and length, I don’t see why the Bills using an important draft pick to replace that.  Of course, McKinney made all of one appearance last year before injuring his knee in November and missing the rest of the season, so we’ll have to see how that checks out.

The rest of this group I don’t envision back.  Owens by all accounts has no real interest in returning despite comments he’d be open to it. Besides, the feeling is likely mutual.  Reed has been here his entire career but it’s time to move on.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the newly minted Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints interested in him.  With both gone the Bills will have a hole to fill at receiver unless James Hardy steps up in his third season.

Draft, Johnson and Simmons functioned as able bodies during the injury ravished Bills season and will look for work elsewhere.

That leaves Scott. In all likelihood the Bills would like him back, but at what price?  Jairus Byrd is definitely moving into a full-time starting role and assuming he’s not dealt, Donte Whitner is back.  George Wilson is a restricted free agent the organization loves and will surely attempt to keep in town.  Scott will want and probably deserves starter money, but when everyone’s healthy he may only be fourth on the depth chart.  I think he’ll move on and deserves the best as he’s been an effective and versatile player here; doing everything of him asked including filling in at linebacker in 2009.

Restricted Free Agents Without a Labor Deal: Keith Ellison, Gibran Hamden, Richie Incognito, Joe Klopfenstein, George Wilson, Ashton Youboty.

Just like the collection listed previously, I anticipate Buffalo making moves to keep two from this group on the 2010 roster.  Incognito should be tendered; especially with the possibility Eric Wood will not be ready for next year.  Incognito is clearly flawed but brings toughness and durability to the line in an offense I think Chan Gailey will center more heavily on the running game than recent years.  If Wood comes back it’s a bonus and gives new offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris more flexibility.

Plus, who wouldn’t pay to see that first practice with contact when Incognito greets Kawika Mitchell on defense?

The team would be foolish to not bring Wilson back.  He’s grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years at safety. He was second on the team with 91 tackles and four interceptions last year and had a pair of sacks and a forced fumble; not bad for a guy who wasn’t a full time starter.  In addition, he’s a leader on the field and in the locker room and the Bills lack in both areas.  His improvement may even make Whitner expendable in an off-season trade.

I don’t see anyone else being tendered an offer.  Ellison worked hard for Buffalo but is the anti 3-4 linebacker. He could catch on with a team like Indianapolis or Chicago.  Klopfenstein was signed and released more times than anyone can count and Youboty has blown multiple opportunities to show he could be an impact defender.  Lastly, “Hanging with Hamden” will hit hiatus once again. It’s scary to think Hamden was a single down from playing late last year.

Restricted Free Agents (Normal): Derek Schouman and Jonathan Scott.

Expect Schouman back and Scott on another roster.  The Bills have enough positions to worry about and don’t need to tally up another at tight end.  Schouman was off to a fantastic start last year with nine catches for 103 yards in less than two games before a knee injury ended his campaign.  He’s a good backup behind an emerging Shawn Nelson and grouped with Derek Fine, the position is set for next year.

Scott on the other hand is probably a goner.  The Bills already have Brad Butler and Demetrius Bell at tackle, like Jamon Meredith’s potential and are certain to grab another early in the April draft.  Factor that with versatile backup Kirk Chambers ready to fight for a spot and it doesn’t leave room for Scott.

Exclusive Rights Free Agents: Marcus Buggs, Jon Corto, Christian Gaddis, Justise Hairston, Cary Harris, Jonathan Stupar.

Basically these are free agents with zero leverage power. Simply put, if the Bills want them back then they’re coming back.  You want to hear the scariest part about this group?  To show how symbolic the Bills 2009 went, four of these six were actually in the starting lineup at one time or another.

Harris will surely be tendered, and I expect Stupar and Corto to be brought back to compete for special teams jobs.  Gaddis could return to compete with McKinney for a backup interior offensive line spot.  See ya to Buggs, who is too small for this defense and if you already knew who Hairston was, then congratulations on being a Bills die-hard.

Summary: The way I see it, you’ll see the following free agents in Buffalo’s training camp come spring time; Denney, McKinney, Wilson, Incognito, Schouman, Corto, Harris, Stupar and Gaddis.

Good luck in the future to Owens, Reed, Johnson, Draft, Bryan and Jonathan Scott, Ellison, Hamden, Klopfenstein, Youboty, Buggs and Hairston.

Next Time: A look at potential roster cuts.

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12 Comments on Buffalo Bills Free Agents: Who Stays… And Goes?

  1. Buffalo Bills Free Agents: Who Stays… And Goes? : Buffalo Sports Daily | NFL Topics Blog

    [...] By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN wrote a very interesting post today.   Here’s a quick excerpt:For the past few weeks, our talented colleague Brian Galliford over at Buffalo Rumblings has been generously providing our readers with a Buffalo Bills‘ roster breakdown by position. I encourage all fans to check out his brilliant … [...]

  2. Jan Reimers

    I even know it’s Justise Hairston.

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  9. Mike Wright

    Stroud, Denney and Johnson as our starting line in the 3-4?
    I don’t think so. Watch for a trade or the waiver wire. We will not go to battle with this trio starting.

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