The Buffalo Bills are heading into this free agency period with a few holes to fill. The team finished the season with the league’s best defense, but it didn’t seem like it through most of the season. Meanwhile, the offense was as dominant as 2020, but there are still some holes to be filled there too. Let’s take a look at a few players the Bills should look to target when free agency begins in a couple weeks.
Rob Gronkowski (TE)
The Buffalo Bills were rumored to be one of the other finalists for Gronk last off-season, before he ultimately signed back with the Buccaneers. Now, the Bills are the betting favorite to land Gronk at +550, per Bookies. The Bills have a need at TE2, with Tommy Sweeney and Reggie Gilliam serving as the backups last season. The team could also use someone with Gronk’s historic career to help Dawson Knox continue his growth that we saw this past season. Gronkowski had a good season in 2021, totaling 55 receptions, 802 yards, and six TDs. If Gronk decides to play one more season, this could be the year he takes a discount to go home. Spotrac projects an $8.3M market value for Gronk.
Tyrod Taylor (QB)
Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo again? Tyrod has proven to be a very good backup QB in this league, and will ultimately sign a cheap deal wherever he goes. In the McBeane-Allen era, the Bills have tended to sign veteran QB2s (Derek Anderson, Matt Barkley, Mitch Trubisky, among others). Meanwhile, after leaving Buffalo, Tyrod has backed up Baker Mayfield, Justin Herbert, and Davis Mills; all of whom had great success in his time there. They could bring Tyrod back for one more go around.
Akiem Hicks (DE/DT)
While Hicks is an aging vet, he’s still a proven pass rusher. In 2021, he totaled 29 pressures, 3.5 sacks, 21 QB hits, and 49 tackles. With Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison hitting the market, the Bills will need to target a proven, effective pass rusher in that DE room. Currently, the Buffalo Bills pass rushers are some of the youngest in the league (A.J. Epenesa, Greg Rousseau, and Carlos Basham). Spotrac projects a $5.5M average salary for Hicks, with a market value of two years/$11.1M.
Leonard Fournette (RB)
Fournette has found new life since signing with Tampa in 2020. In two seasons there, he has totaled 1,179 yards and 14 TDs, all while sharing snaps with Ronald Jones. Tampa Bay is short on cap space this year, with a good amount of starters hitting free agency. They won’t be able to bring back everybody, and Fournette may not want to go back to a team that has lost its starting guard, QB, and (possibly) WR. Spotrac values him at $6.1M annually.
Byron Pringle (WR)
Pringle, while having a small role on the K.C. Chiefs, found some success, totaling 562 yards & five TDs on 42 receptions last year. The Bills value depth at the WR position, having rostered four to five starting quality receivers in 2021. That should continue this year if they bring back either Isaiah McKenzie or Emmanuel Sanders and sign Pringle. Spotrac values Pringle at $3.2M annually.
Anthony Hitchens (LB)
Hitchens has been a four year starter with the Chiefs, totaling two forced fumbles, two sacks, 381 tackles, 17 TFLs, and 12 QB hits. He would provide starting quality depth to a Bills LB room in need of a dominant player next to Matt Milano. Hitchens, 29, will still have a couple good years left in the tank.