As a Buffalo Bills fan, you have to keep yourself grounded and be honest with yourself. Did we really expect a win against a rolling New England Patriots team with our staggering defense and stagnant offense? I know that at the very least, I was expecting a loss much worse than what we witnessed and if you were expecting something different, well then maybe you haven’t been a fan for the past 17 years.
However, while I was expecting a New England loss, I was not expecting to see virtually everyone else that matters to win. The main three teams that the Bills are competing with for the sixth spot, the Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers, all walked away from week 13 with a “W.” Even the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, who with a loss maybe would put the fifth seed in contention as well, also walked away with wins. The only thing that went the Bills way was seeing the Kansas City Chiefs fall to the New York Jets, which doesn’t affect our standing that much and is more so only important for the AFC West division. So, after week 13, it’s about that time of the year that the overly-ambitious and early season playoff hopes ultimately die off to the perpetual reality of missing the postseason. With that said, this is a good time to evaluate the fringe free agent players heading into the final quarter of the season.
Evaluating 2018 Buffalo Bills Free Agents
Upcoming Free Agents
After the first year of the new regime in which we saw over half of the roster turn over, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see it happen again this off-season. A couple of key players are playing on expiring contracts right now, the biggest of which are Kyle Williams, Jordan Matthews, E.J. Gaines and Preston Brown.
At the beginning of the season, it was easy to suspect that since Matthews and Gaines were both brought in as a result of trades including high draft picks that they were simply here as one-year rental players. My opinion on Matthews hasn’t changed. The Bills have since brought in Kelvin Benjamin to serve as a true number one receiver. Zay Jones has developed into a viable number two receiver as the year has gone on and Matthews recently was placed on injured reserve. That leads me to believe that Matthews was in fact just a one year rental and not a part of the future plans for the team. After showing what he can consistently produce for three years in Philadelphia, his market price will simply be too high for this new front office that seems to make value a priority.
However, Gaines has been a key factor in a secondary that seems to be the only steady part of the roster at this point. While he has been oft-injured this year and has missed four games, it’s not a signal that the team should move on. Rather, it shows that his market price is going to be a steal and Buffalo simply needs to boost the depth behind him. In the games that Gaines has been healthy, the Bills have a record of 5-3 while they’re 1-3 without him. Gaines has quietly been a key factor in the secondary and I fully expect to see him back in a Bills uniform next year.
Williams and Brown are both playing out the final year of their contracts as two of the Bills longer tenured players. Williams has been a true role model and leader in the locker room and deserves nothing but the utmost respect from this organization. However, after contemplating retirement last year, his play has taken a noticeable decline and simply is not worth the $7+ million that he is getting paid. I suspect that either Williams will be brought back at a very cheap price or the Bills will move on from him with honor. As for Brown, he’s simply not the linebacker that McDermott is looking for in his defensive scheme. Poor coverage and a lack of athleticism signals that it is time to move on from him. He’ll likely hit the open market and get overpaid elsewhere.
Potential Cap Casualties
As for the rest of our roster and potential cuts, the Brandon Beane regime has shown that no one is safe in Buffalo. This stands true mostly for the players that are weighing heavily on team’s salary cap. A combination of things make Cordy Glenn, Jerry Hughes and Tyrod Taylor potential cap casualties this offseason.
There were trade rumors in the middle of the season that the Bills could possibly unload Glenn. As he finishes out the season with injury issues continuing to plague him, Glenn could see himself on a different team next year. Hughes has underperformed in Buffalo ever since he signed his five-year contract with the Bills and has fallen off the map this year since his three sack start through four games. More so than his lack of productivity, his frisky and animated attitude just simply doesn’t seem to line up with McDermott’s no nonsense approach. Taylor is self-explanatory after McDermott jettisoned him from the starting lineup despite a winning record and the Bills being in a playoff spot through 10 weeks.