It’s been pretty well documented through the first 10 days of free agency that Buffalo Bills fans feel like losers.
Why wouldn’t they?
Buffalo has been almost eerily silent in the open market since inking Manny Lawson to a four-year deal on the second day of free agency last Wednesday. While the rest of the AFC East are making multiple moves, good ones or not, the Bills at this point have put the car on idle and are letting other teams chew up their cap money. The pessimistic side of all us feel like they team is contempt to remain in full blown rebuilding mode with a brand new coaching staff.
Surely a 6-10 team for two seasons running that’s done little in free agency is hoping, not expecting to improve on their record, no? It’s a far cry from a year ago when Buffalo dominated early free agency headlines by doling out the big bucks for Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.
Whether Buffalo is being smart or frugal by saving their dollars remains to be seen. Debating such isn’t the purpose of this particular exercise. Instead I’ll take a few moments to point out a handful of players currently embedded on the roster that have individually benefited from Buffalo’s inactivity on the open market.
Here’s a list of five Bills veterans I can assure you have no problem with Nix’s approach to free agency.
Da’Norris Searcy: When George Wilson was released and Andy Levitre bolted for Tennessee it was widely assumed Buddy Nix would look for a big ticket safety via free agency to play alongside Jairus Byrd. Clearly that wasn’t Nix’s thinking as Dashon Goldson, William Moore, LaRon Landry and Clover Quin quickly went off the board. It’s quite apparent Buffalo has no interest in Charles Woodson and Bernard Pollard just signed with Tennessee. Nix is likely to still pick up a safety but it looks like that role will be to backup and mentor Searcy. The fourth-round pick in 2011 is almost certain to enter this season as the starter. To his credit, he outplayed Wilson near the end of last season.
Dorin Dickerson: Whether it’s fullback, tight end or a combination of both, Buffalo’s done absolutely nothing to address the position so far this offseason. Scott Chandler will be coming off a torn ACL and the Bills seem in no hurry to bring back fullback Corey McIntyre. They elected against signing one of the numerous talented tight ends in free agency, and this all bodes well for Dickerson. He only caught nine passes for 117 yards in limited action last season, but I’ve heard assistant GM Doug Whaley, who brought Dickerson in last year is a big fan, and I get the feeling Dickerson will have every opportunity to earn an expanded role in Nathaniel Hackett’s offense in 2013. If things go right Dickerson can be a huge sleeper on this current Buffalo roster.
Nigel Bradham: if the season started today, last year’s fourth-round pick would be the starting strong side linebacker, and I don’t see anything happening between now and August for that to change. Manny Lawson has been the lone Bills free agent signee to this point, and he’ll line up on the weak side. The Bills will surely pick up another linebacker or two between now and training camp, but I don’t anticipate it being a significant veteran or high draft pick. Bradham will have the chance to take a major step forward this season.
Aaron Williams: If the Bills would’ve made a notable move at cornerback after re-signing Leodis McKelvin, Williams’ roster spot could’ve been in trouble. The 2011 second-rounder has been a major bust early in his career and right now he’s best known as the man Nix took over Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton. It appears Williams will get another chance to compete for a starting corner spot, if the team doesn’t move him to safety. Clearly this is a now-or-never opportunity for Williams, who may want to thank his lucky stars the Bills desperately need a quarterback and wide receiver early in the draft and therefore won’t spend an early draft pick at corner.
Eric Wood: The center would be the horse of the offensive line no matter the other four guys who complete the unit, but Andy Levitre’s rich departure to Tennessee almost guarantees Wood a monster pay day when his contract expires at the end of the 2013 season. Nix decided he wasn’t going to invest a ridiculous sum of money on the interior of the line for both players. With Levitre gone this clears the path for a large chunk of multi-year money going Wood’s way, provided of course he can remain healthy. I’d be shocked if Nix didn’t get started on a contract extension for Wood before training camp.
Many critics think he should’ve done the same for Levitre a year ago. Hopefully he doesn’t make the same mistake with Wood.