Coach McDermott and Brandon Beane talked up the importance of re-signing their own guys first and keeping this team together in their recent press conference. By bringing back their defensive free agents and extending their stars, it will give them a ton of flexibility to focus on the offense.
If the defense is taken care of, more attention can be put into building a Super Bowl-winning offense. With a talented offensive 2020 class, the Bills can easily afford to spend money on extending their defensive players. Their projected $90 million in cap space could even be used to sign a stud player. By completely locking down the defense, Brandon Beane can get scouting some dynamic offensive playmakers.
When you have a top-three defense in the NFL, it’s tough to lose pieces. The NFL is a constant one step forwards, two-step back process. It would be a dream to bring back an entire starting defense. But with only a few major defensive players going into free agency, the Bills have a unique scenario.
If they can bring back pending free agents, they will have the entire starting defense returning next year other than Lorenzo Alexander. Vosean Joseph looks to fill that role next season, however, and there is still the 2020 draft to grow. By not losing any defensive starters, more attention can be put into improving the offense that only scored 19.6 points per game with one of the easiest schedules in the NFL.
Who Needs to Be Re-Signed
Phillips had somewhat of a breakout season. His first full tenure under McDermott was a special one. His 9.5 sacks more than earned himself a new contract. When Harrison Phillips went down, Jordan stepped up which goes unnoticed. Bringing him back with Ed Oliver, Harrison Phillips, and Star Lotulelei will give the Bills nice continuity in the trenches.
Sometimes, instead of taking a risk it’s better to just stick with the known quantity. No, Lawson wasn’t a McDermott/Beane draft pick, but he’s been productive with them. It’s tough to find successful pass rushers in the NFL and especially as a rookie if the Bills have to draft one to replace him. Leaving just Trent Murphy, an aging Jerry Hughes, and 2nd year Darryl Johnson would leave the pass rush in a difficult position.
A lot of fans might disagree but Johnson quietly had a solid season. Levi Wallace still at times looked lost and the jury is still out on him as a future #2 corner to Tre White. The biggest concern with Johnson was his health, and he played all 16 games this year. The former first-rounder can bring experience and a solid support system should Wallace not turn out to be legit. Even if a rookie is drafted Johnson will also be an experienced veteran that McDermott can rely on. Also, give him another year to work with McDermott and he could evolve. He didn’t give anybody a reason to not bring him back this season.
Who Needs to be Extended
Simply put, Tre Day Pay Day is coming. He just keeps getting better. Giving up zero touchdowns in coverage and leading the league in interceptions is just about as high as you can go as an NFL cornerback. Not only is he a stud, but he is turning into quite the closer with a few game-winning plays in the 4th quarter. He has reached the top. Are you prepared to make him one of the highest-paid corners in football? He has just about earned it. Extend him and never have to worry about it moving forward because a huge payday is inevitable, so get it out of the way now.
Milano is under contract for one more season, but he has more than earned an extension. He is quietly going under the radar as one of the most underrated linebackers in the league. The Bills were 2nd in the NFL this season in yards given up to tight ends. Milano played a huge part in that locking down opposing tight ends weekly. He stepped his game up to another level in coverage while also reaching the 100 tackle mark.
Poyer and Hyde are arguably the best safety duo in the game today. Somehow 104 tackles, 3 fumble recoveries, and 2 INT’s isn’t enough to net Poyer an All-Star nod. Poyer’s contract is set to expire in 2021, so he has two more seasons while Hyde has three more, which is why he isn’t on the list quite yet. But he definitely will deserve an extension. Keeping this safety duo together should be a priority. They are the backbone of this team’s defense and save big plays every week.