Grading the First Wave of Bills Free Agents
The Buffalo Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane brought in ten free agents last week to fix some of the holes in their depth chart. While some players may be more suited towards a backup role, most of them could end up starting week one. Let’s take a closer look and see how good these players could be for the Bills.
Kevin Johnson, Cornerback; Grade C
The first of ten signings was former Houston Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson. A former first-round pick in 2015 out of Wake Forest, Johnson has transitioned greatly into the NFL. Although most of his problems have been caused due to injury, he has yet to perform at a high-level throughout his four-year career. Johnson signed a one-year prove it deal worth $2,000,000 on Monday. He’ll compete with Levi Wallace for the CB2 spot.
Frank Gore, Running Back; Grade C+
Being the oldest out of the Bills’ free agent signings at age 35, Frank Gore signed a one year deal to primarily serve as a backup to LeSean McCoy. Totaling 772 yards last season for the Miami Dolphins, Gore enters his 15th season with Buffalo. Although he does not plan on retiring as a Bill, his son, Frank Gore Jr., was recently offered by the University of Buffalo on a football scholarship. So we could see the Gore family in Buffalo for a few more years after his retirement.
Tyler Kroft, Tight End; Grade B-
Following Charles Clay’s release, Tyler Kroft hopes to fill the need at the starting tight end position. After serving as a backup on the Cinncinati Bengals‘ roster for the past four seasons, Kroft signed a three year, 18.5 million dollar deal on Monday. He missed a majority of 2018 after suffering a foot injury, but he still looks to fill the starting role this season.
Mitch Morse, Center; Grade A
Mitch Morse was easily the top player the Bills signed this offseason and also filled the biggest need for the Bills as Morse signed a four-year, $44 million dollar deal on Monday. Morse has quietly been one of the league’s top centers since entering the league in 2015. Although the newly-signed Carolina Panthers center Matt Paradis seemed to be the fan favorite, Morse may actually be the better option as he is younger than him and puts up the same or better numbers than Paradis. In fact, he has not allowed a sack since the year he was drafted. Morse will hopefully become the centerpiece of the Bills’ offensive line for many seasons to come.
John Brown, Wide Receiver; Grade B+
Last offseason, John Brown turned down an offer to play in Buffalo. Now, the tables have turned as Brown signed a three-year, $27 million dollar deal on Tuesday. Brown is a very speedy receiver and is a very solid signing to boost the receiving core. He started 15 games this past season with 42 receptions, 715 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Brown has the potential to match, if not, improve those numbers from last season in Buffalo this season.
Cole Beasley, Wide Receiver; Grade B
The second receiver brought in to Buffalo on Tuesday was former Dallas Cowboy Cole Beasley. Not only has he been one of the most underrated receivers in the league, but he has also been one of the best slot receivers in the game. Beasley constantly puts up good numbers with the Cowboys season after season and has a 78.8 overall grade on PFF. Although he is nearing thirty years old, he still has the potential to be a solid 2 or 3 receiver.
Ty Nsekhe, Tackle; Grade B+
After stepping in for injured All-Pro tackle Trent Williams on the Washington Redskins, Ty Nsekhe solidified himself as one the best swing tackles in the league and was also a fan-favorite. The Bills signed him to a friendly one-year, $2.9 million deal on Monday. Nsekhe posted up a grade of 67.8, a solid grade for someone who is primarily a backup. Although he seems to be a depth-chart player, Nsekhe has a chance to start at either tackle or guard come week one.
Jon Feliciano, Guard; Grade B
Similar to Nsekhe, newly-signed Bills guard Jon Feliciano was a fan-favorite in Oakland and was highly praised by his teammates. Feliciano signed a two-year, $8 million deal on Tuesday with Buffalo. He was graded a 49.5 on PFF, but he has been solid for the Raiders since being drafted. He has played in 42 games, starting eight. We are not sure where he will land on the depth chart, Feliciano said he is up to the challenge to win the starting spot.
“Right now, I’m just going to compete for a guard spot. Just competing. That’s the main thing we kept talking about, is come out here and compete,”Jon Feliciano at Bills Press Conference
Andre Roberts, Wide Receiver / Return Specialist; Grade B
After an All-Pro season, it was a shock to most that the New York Jets were not bringing back Andre Roberts. Now, Roberts brings his talents up north to the Bills as He signed a two-year, $5.1 million dollar deal with three million guaranteed. Roberts will surely add some skill to the Bills’ special teams. Although he may be a favorite, he’ll have to compete with Marcus Murphy and Isaiah Mckenzie, who both returned punts and kickoffs last season, for the starting spot.
LaAdrian Waddle, Tackle; B-
The most recent signing for the Buffalo Bills is ex-New England Patriots tackle LaAdrian Waddle. Waddle signed a one-year deal on Saturday. Similar to Nsekhe and Feliciano, he has never been a solidified starter in New England. However, he had gotten solid playing time. He’ll probably be used as a swing tackle, but that could change come to the start of the season.
Although free agency is far from over, the Bills have definitely improved their offense with a lot of solid weapons. Former Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah met with Buffalo on Thursday, but left without a deal.