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10 Free Agents The Buffalo Bills Should Sign



A couple of days ago, I wrote an article explaining how the Buffalo Bills can save over $50 million in cap space before free agency begins. With the moves that I made, I gave the Bills $41 million to work with. Today, I am going to discuss 10 players who Buffalo can sign using that new cap figure.

I want to preface this by saying that these are all rough estimates; there are so many fine details to NFL contracts that there is no way of knowing how much each deal will be worth or how much each player’s contract will count towards the team’s cap based on their average annual value (AAV). So, I found 10 players who I think GM Brandon Beane and the Bills can go after that make sense logically and financially.

(Note: If a player has an asterisk (*) next to their name, that represents someone who I think the Buffalo Bills should re-sign. Also, the players are listed according to their position, not according to their importance to the team.)

QB Drew Lock

Starting with a backup quarterback, I think Drew Lock makes a lot of sense here. Finding a backup for Josh Allen is tough because you want to have someone who has a similar skillset and can come in at any given time. But, there is only one Josh Allen.

Jacoby Brissett is probably the most similar to Allen out of the free agent QBs, but he has a market value of $5.4 million. Marcus Mariota could also be an option, but I’m sure he would want at least $5-$7 million as well. Both of these players are fringe starters, so they will most likely want to get paid like it.

Lock, on the other hand, has not proved yet that he can be a regular starter in the NFL. The former second-round pick has shown glimpses, but he just hasn’t been able to put it all together yet. I think the Bills can take advantage of this situation and get him on a cheap one-year deal. They could persuade Lock to come to Buffalo for a year, clear his mind, learn behind Allen, and then potentially get another starting opportunity (and more money) the following year, as they did with Mitch Trubisky in 2021.

Contract Projection: 1 year, $3 million

RB D’Onta Foreman

A player who I think would be a perfect fit for the Buffalo Bills is D’Onta Foreman. Even if they clear up a ton of cap space, I think the writing is on the wall for RB Devin Singletary to look elsewhere for a bigger contract. Some people think James Cook and Nyheim Hines can carry the load, but I still think the Bills need another starting RB. They don’t need a bell cow back who is going to command a lot of carries, but they do need someone who can compliment Cook and Hines.

One of the best ways to compliment them is by getting someone who has the exact opposite style of play, and that’s what Foreman does. Foreman is the big bruiser who can be the first down back and used in goal-to-go situations; and then Cook and Hines are the speedy, shifty backs who can be used in passing situations.

Foreman finished 2022 with 914 yards and five TDs on 443 carries while starting nine games following the Christian McCaffrey trade. Last year was his first year getting time as RB1, so he shouldn’t command too much money (his market value is $3.4 million). But if the Bills have to spend a little extra to get the 26-year-old, then I’m still good for it. Because let’s not forget, that extra million or two would go towards preserving Josh Allen’s body long-term, limiting the number of hits his body takes.

Contract Projection: 2 years, $8 million

WR Marvin Jones

Another one of my free-agent crushes is Marvin Jones. I think Jones would be a great addition on the boundary to help out Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. Jones is another one of those players, like Foreman, who hasn’t gotten a lot of attention this offseason but could be a sneaky good add. Beane said he wants to add low-cost free agents who can be impact players, and that is exactly what Jones is with his $3.4 million market value.

Plus, he has played second or third fiddle his entire career, playing behind A.J. Green in Cincinnati, Kenny Golladay in Detroit, and most recently, Christian Kirk and Zay Jones in Jacksonville.

Contract Projection: 2 years, $8.5 million

RT Jermaine Eluemunor

As for the offensive line, I want the Buffalo Bills to make their OL, specifically their interior OL, a high priority in the draft. As of now, Ryan Bates and Ike Boettger are the only guards under contract. Boettger is a solid depth player, but Beane has to find their starting guard of the future (opposite Bates) in April.

The other main priority is finding a veteran RT who can give Spencer Brown some competition as he goes into year three. In his first two seasons, Brown has allowed five sacks and has had 14 penalties called on him. He has also recorded PFF grades of 62.6 and 51.4.

A player who could challenge Brown for the starting right tackle position is Jermaine Eluemunor. The 28-year-old is a former fifth-round pick of the Ravens in 2017. He spent his first two seasons in Baltimore before getting traded to New England in 2019. He then bounced around before signing with the Raiders in 2021, where he became their starting RT last season and recorded a career-best 75.3 PFF grade.

Coming off of his best season as a pro, Eluemunor has a market value of $5.6 million.

Contract Projection: 2 years, $12 million

DE Shaq Lawson*

Moving over to the defensive line, I think there is a strong possibility we see Shaq Lawson back in Buffalo next season. Lawson had a decent season as primarily a backup in 2022, totaling 31 tackles, 11 QB pressures, and 3.5 sacks.

The Bills have already put a lot of capital into their DEs, so they really can’t afford to go out and spend big (or draft big). They will need someone to help Greg Rousseau (and A.J. Epenesa and Boogie Basham) hold down the fort until Von Miller returns. Lawson could provide that stability as he’s familiar with the system.

Lawson played on the veteran’s minimum last year, but I think the Bills would give him a little bit more this year since his role will increase in Miller’s absence.

Contract Projection: 1 year, $2 million

DTs Chris Wormley & Jordan Phillips*

As for defensive tackle, I am going based on my projection that the Buffalo Bills will trade Ed Oliver to save $10.8 million. I thought it was a possibility, but now after seeing him post “Show me the money or ion wanna talk” on his Instagram story yesterday, that hypothetical trade became more of a reality.

In order to fill Oliver’s role, I would sign DT Chris Wormley. The 29-year-old has spent the past three seasons in Pittsburgh after Baltimore traded him to their division rival in March 2020. (He spent his first three seasons in Baltimore after the Ravens drafted him in the third round in 2017.) Wormley has been a rotational piece his entire career, something that fits the Bills’ philosophy. However, in his one season as a full-time starter (2021), Wormley had 51 tackles and 7.0 sacks, both career highs. Oliver has yet to surpass 43 tackles and 5.0 sacks in a season.

Wormley’s Contract Projection: 3 years, $19 million

As for Jordan Phillips, I think he has a legit shot at coming back as the Bills’ fourth DT, especially if Oliver gets traded. Phillips only had 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks last year while battling through injuries all season, decreasing his value this off-season. He most likely won’t have a big market, so Buffalo can probably get him back for the veteran’s minimum. For a player who has accrued eight seasons in the league, his contract would be worth $1,165,000.

Phillips’ Contract Projection: 1 year, $1.2 million

LB Tremaine Edmunds*

Here’s the biggest domino for the Buffalo Bills. Will they be able to re-sign their starting middle linebacker? Reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter surfaced yesterday saying that the Bills are likely to lose both Edmunds and Jordan Poyer. While that may be true, I still think the Bills can get Edmunds back, especially if they clear as much space as I did.

Edmunds had arguably his best season in 2022. The former first-round pick totaled 102 tackles and one sack. He also recorded career-highs with a 79.0 PFF grade and a 69.9 passer rating allowed when targeted. It would be unfortunate to lose someone who has so much upside and is the captain and play-caller of the defense. But Edmunds is going to command a lot of money, especially after Roquan Smith signed a five-year, $100 million deal with Baltimore back in January.

Spotrac has Edmunds’ market value at just $11 million. But, after seeing Smith get $20 million/year, I would be shocked if Edmunds gets an AAV of less than $15 million. The five highest-paid LBs are (in terms of AAV):

  • Roquan Smith ($20M)
  • Shaquille Leonard ($19.7M)
  • Fred Warner ($19M)
  • C.J. Mosely ($17M)
  • Foyesade Oluokun ($15M)

I can see Edmunds sliding in right between Warner and Mosely to become the fourth-highest paid LB in the NFL. Either way, expect a big payday for the 24-year-old. (Yes, he is still just 24 years old.)

Contract Projection: 5 years, $87.5 million

S Terrell Edmunds/Andrew Wingard/Marcus Epps

And now the other big question: What’s going to happen with Jordan Poyer? I think Poyer is pretty much gone, but maybe Beane can work out a favorable deal for both sides. The almost-32-year-old loves Buffalo and has been a great team player over his six years here, but he wants to get paid as one of the top safeties in the NFL. He has also talked about the high NYS taxes and partying with Miami Dolphins players. Given the Buffalo Bills’ cap situation, I think this is the time when the two sides thank each other for everything and then go their separate ways.

So who can replace Poyer and be able to slide in and play alongside Micah Hyde in 2023?

Terrell is Tremaine’s brother, so that could entice Tremaine to re-sign with Buffalo. Wingard and Epps were Josh Allen’s teammates at Wyoming from 2016-2017. And Wingard worked with Bills safeties coach Joe Danna in Jacksonville from 2019-21. Like I said in the tweet, all three are coming off of their rookie contracts and shouldn’t command too much money. If Poyer could potentially get $15 million/year, these three will get half of that, at most.

Wingard is my lead candidate here due to the fact that, in addition to having upside, good cover skills, and being Allen’s former teammate, he has familiarity with Danna. And we know how much the Bills appreciate familiarity and experience. Wingard has been a rotational piece for the Jaguars throughout his first four seasons. But, in his one year as a full-time starter, he finished with 88 tackles, one sack, and one INT. There is a lot of untapped potential here.

Contract Projection: 4 years, $22.5 million

P Sam Martin*

Sam Martin had a nice season for the Buffalo Bills in 2022. Martin was used more than we would’ve liked, as the Bills’ offense sputtered toward the end of the season. He punted a total of 45 times for an average of 47.7 yards/punt, and a net average of 42.1. He also landed 16 of those (35.6%) inside the 20.

Martin played on the veteran’s minimum last season for $1.2 million. I’m sure he would take a similar team-friendly deal, but I gave him a little bit more as an incentive to come back and punt in the cold again. (Plus a $2.1M AAV would make him the 12th-highest-paid punter in the NFL, behind Johnny Hekker.)

Contract Projection: 1 year, $2.1 million

Other Options

If Buffalo has to move on from Tremaine Edmunds, here are three names I like:

  • Alex Anzalone
  • Zach Cunningham
  • Bobby Wagner

Anzalone had a career-high 125 tackles in his second season as a starting ILB for Detroit. The 28-year-old is coming off of a modest one-year, $2.5 million extension with the Lions after spending his first four seasons in New Orleans.

Zach Cunningham only played six games last year due to an injury, but when he is healthy, he is one of the most dominant LBs in the league. The 28-year-old led the NFL with 164 total tackles in 2020 and had 142 in 2019. The Texans gave him a four-year, $58 million contract ($14.5 AAV) back in 2020. But, now that he’s older and coming off of an injury AND a release, the Bills could probably get him way cheaper.

Bobby Wagner is, well… Bobby Wagner. One of the best LBs to ever play the game, Wagner remains incredibly durable at almost 33 years old. He has amassed over 100 total tackles every year in his 11-year career and has had at least 130 tackles each of the last seven seasons. The Bills could ink him to a two-year deal and pair him with Matt Milano, forming arguably the best linebacking duo in the NFL. But Wagner is going to have a big market, as I would imagine a lot of teams will want to pay him for his services.

I would also like to see the Bills re-sign LB Tyler Matakevich for special teams, as well as CB Dane Jackson (RFA) as a backup corner behind Tre White and Kaiir Elam.

Cap Space

Again, all these contracts were rough estimates based on the player’s market value and production. If you were looking at the average annual value and counting that towards the cap, I would be $11 million over. Factor in re-signing Matakevich and Jackson, signing any other depth player(s) to complete the roster, and saving $6 million towards the draft class and I am roughly $20 million over.

But don’t forget that AAV does not equate to cap hits. While they may be relatively close, there are ways that Beane will be able to lower those cap hits, based on the base salary and different bonuses. Regardless, look for the Buffalo Bills to make a lot of moves over the next week or so, signing players who won’t cost a lot, but will be able to produce a lot.

Which free agents do you think the Buffalo Bills should sign?

Featured Image: Rich Barnes/AP