Buffalo Bills Offseason Grade

Buffalo Bills
Dylan Sanders
Follow him on Twitter @DillySanders
Follow Whole Nine Sports on Twitter @WholeNineSports

I just wanted to start this off on a sad note by saying R.I.P. to Ezra “Pancho Billa” Castro. Anyone who knows anything about the Bills knows that he was the embodiment of #BILLSMAFIA. A fan favorite who was also just a fan himself. He passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He will be sorely missed by MANY people.

Retirements

Kyle Williams

DL Kyle Williams – I’ve met Kyle a couple of times and you can tell right away that he was something special. Not only for his contributions on the field but, he is a great person and leader off the field. They seemed to have filled his hole on the defense. However, the loss of someone known as “the heart and soul” of the team will definitely have an impact.

Impact: 8/10

Re-Signings

Lorenzo Alexander

LB Lorenzo Alexander – He was brought in to be a depth guy a couple of seasons ago but, has quickly turned himself into a Buffalo star. The fans love him and so do his fellow teammates. He is an important defensive and locker room piece who everyone would be sad to see leave. He signed a one-year extension and will stay here for another season, likely to be his last.

Grade: A

Impact: 9/10

Jordan Phillips

DT Jordan Phillips – Signed off waivers after being cut by the Dolphins, Phillips joined the Bills part way through the season and immediately made his presence known. A very solid player, and the coaching staff loves the energy he brings. I think they were very smart to bring him back to bolster their interior defensive line.

Grade: B+

Impact: 7/10

Cuts

Charles Clay

TE Charles Clay – Clay was on the team for a long time but, it’s no surprise after having only 21 catches last year that he just didn’t have a place on the team. He was a cap casualty and the 30 year old is joining the young Cardinals offense. With the replacements found in FA and the draft, I wouldn’t be too sad about losing the veteran if I were a Bills fan.

Grade: B

Impact: 5/10

Players Lost in Free Agency

John Miller

IOL John Miller – The Bills were known for their terrible OL in 2018 but, the only one that seemed to be ok was John Miller. He is a very inconsistent player who is ok at pass-blocking, but REALLY struggles in run-blocking. The Bills seemed to have completely reloaded at OL and didn’t seem to think he was worth the 3 yr/$16.5 million that the Bengals gave him.

Impact: 6/10

Free Agency Signings

Spencer Long

IOL Spencer Long – With an OL as bad as they have, it won’t hurt to have a guy who has games under his belt starting at both Center and Guard. It would be hard for them to get worse at OL so, this is just one of the great moves they made to start off a free agency that wasn’t super ripe with starting OL depth. He was cut after one season by the Jets, mainly as a financial casualty. Hopefully they can find consistency on the OL with a good veteran presence. A 3 yr/$12.6 million contract isn’t a bad thing either.

Grade: B

Impact: 7/10

Mitch Morse

C Mitch Morse – A 4 year starter in Kansas City, the 27 yr old earned his 4 yr/$44.5 million contract. He is now the highest paid center in the NFL. I absolutely love this move for the Bills. This move strengthens a position that hasn’t been the best for a while. Eric Wood did the job but, left the team in 2017. His competitiveness fits the bill (no pun intended) set by the ravaging fan base in Buffalo. Josh Allen should finally be able to trust his interior with the perfection-chasing Morse ahead of him locking it down.

Grade: A

Impact: 10/10

Ty Nsekhe

OT Ty Nsekhe – The monstrous 6’8”, 325 lb tackle has all of the physical attributes to be a great offensive tackle. After Trent Williams went down for the Redskins last season, Neshke stepped up and made his presence known. He is older, but should be able to last. This could end up being a great move for the Bills. He’s been all over the place in his career but, hopefully he found a permanent home in Buffalo.

Grade: B+

Impact: 8/10

John Brown

WR John Brown – After a rocky start to his career due to injuries, Brown had a good season with the Ravens to put things back on track. Once Lamar Jackson took over his targets definitely took a shot but, pairing his speed with Josh Allen’s arm should make for something beautiful.

Grade: A

Impact: 8/10

Cole Beasley

WR Cole Beasley – Another move that should make Josh Allen very happy. The 29 year old will be a better slot option than the Bills have had in recent seasons. 4 yr/$29 million is a lot but, the improvement at WR should make it worth it. He also immediately becomes the best rapper in the locker room. An option that Josh Allen should take advantage of could see a career year in Buffalo, after being very serviceable in Dallas.

Grade: B+

Impact 8/10

Frank Gore

RB Frank Gore – Entering his 15th NFL season, Frank Gore needs 522 yards to pass Sanders (not me, if you couldn’t guess) to become 3rd on the rushing yards leader list. Let’s hope he can reach that in a back-up role splitting time with LeSean McCoy/Devin Singletary/TJ Yeldon. He had a great season last year, but I wouldn’t bet on him having the same type of output. Still, can’t complain about having a cheap veteran presence for the young guns on the roster.

Grade: B

Impact 6/10

Kevin Johnson

CB Kevin Johnson – One of the main things the Bills needed going into the off-season was a corner to play opposite Tre’Davious White. Johnson is a great get for them, should he be able to stay healthy. Skill-wise he has what they need and seems to be eager to join the culture that this team has built around it’s players. The former first-round pick was able to account for 128 tackles, 14 passes defensed and one interception in his four seasons for the Texans. He only started 18 out of 35 games due to injuries.

Grade: A-

Impact: 8/10

Andre Roberts

WR/ST Andre Roberts – Bringing in a Pro Bowl return-man is a very good move for a team that hasn’t had stability in that position for a while. The Jets decision to let him walk was one that confused many, for sure.

Grade: A-

Impact: 8/10

Tyler Kroft

TE Tyler Kroft – Kroft was never anything special in Cincinnati but he could get the job done. He performed fairly well in 2017 but missed most of 2018 after needing surgery on his foot. If he can bounce back in 2019, he can be a great value signing.

Grade: B

Impact: 6/10

Draft Picks

Ed Oliver

Pick 1.9 DT Ed Oliver, Houston – The start of the draft could not have gone any better for the Bills. They get a guy who before the season was mocked to them at #1 overall. Having watched a ton of Ed Oliver film, when this man is on he is SCARY. Getting into a situation like he has in Buffalo, with a great culture surrounding him along with a perfect scheme fit, should be a thing of beauty for years to come for Bills fans. He should immediately carve out a role for himself and make his presence known in the NFL.

Grade: A+

Impact: 10/10

Cody Ford

Pick 2.38 OL Cody Ford, Oklahoma – The Bills traded up to nab the best offensive lineman they’ve had in a LONG time. I didn’t think he would make it out of the first for the Bills to be able to nab the versatile lineman. This is another perfect fit for both parties involved.

Grade: A+

Impact: 10/10

Devin Singletary

Pick 3.74 RB Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic – Wow, the Bills aren’t really messing around with getting a young running back. Lesean McCoy 2.0 should be a great addition to the RB room. He won’t be an immediate starter, but this is yet another Bills pick that I loved. I will love to watch how his career develops.

Grade: A-

Impact: 7/10

Dawson Knox

Pick 3.96 TE Dawson Knox, Ole Miss – Yet again the Bills nab a prospect that I was in love with. When you combine the PACKED Ole Miss WR corps and the fact that he didn’t have a great QB in his time in Oxford. You will get a situation that allowed Knox to go unnoticed in college. This freak athlete should pair well with the huge arm of Allen. Did you know he used to play basketball? In fact, he was a slam dunk champion. The loss of Charles Clay leaves the starting TE job up for grabs and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Knox steal the spot from Kroft.

Grade: A

Impact: 8/10

Vosean Joseph

Pick 5.147 LB Vosean Joseph, Florida – This pick could end up being a fantastic with a little improvement by Joseph in the NFL. He has the athleticism for sure but, needs to be more disciplined to excel in the NFL. He also has a problem with consistency. With a few bugs worked out he could become a great piece for the Bills to have in their 4-3 scheme.

Grade: B+

Impact: 6/10

Jaquan Johnson

Pick 6.181 S Jaquan Johnson, Miami – He has the physical ability to compete at an NFL level but, needs to work on his ball skills for sure. Luckily for the Bills, they already have 2 great safeties to allow Johnson some room to grow. Expect to see him on the field getting some gritty tackles though.

Grade: B

Impact: 6/10

Darryl Johnson

Pick 7.225 EDGE Darryl Johnson, North Carolina A&T – The huge defensive end didn’t face great competition in college but, did what any skilled player should and tore his opponents apart. He won the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. The last player to win that before him was pro-bowler Darius Leonard and before that was Jason Hargreave. Hopefully Johnson can keep the tradition of the winners to go on and prove to be good contributors at the NFL level.

Grade: B-

Impact: 5/10

Tommy Sweeney

Pick 7.228 TE Tommy Sweeney, Boston College – Continuing to bolster the TE room, Sweeney was brought in after being able to overcome the running offense of BC and produce some numbers. He will be in the competition with Kroft and Knox for the job of starting TE. He reminds me of Nick O’Leary, in that he can catch as well as provide some structure in the run-game.

Grade: C+

Impact: 6/10

Overall

Brandon Beane

With one goal in mind, to create an offense for Josh Allen, the Bills have succeeded. This was probably my favorite off-season in all of the NFL this year. I’m excited to see the difference between this team and last year’s Bills. They’ve gotten much better in a bunch of positions while arguable not getting any worse anywhere. This depends on how much of a Charles Clay fan you were.

Overall Grade: A+