Process or Problem: Buffalo Bills Offensive and Defensive Linemen
On the latest episode of Process or Problem, Rico was joined by Z-Bot to break down the offensive and defensive lines. First, there was some Buffalo Bills news to cover. A.J. Klein was cut from the roster, saving $5.1 million in cap space for 2022. He was valuable, but too expensive in a tough year for money management. Tyrel Dodson signed a new deal and can be expected to fill his role, barring any further moves. The boys also covered the Rob Gronkoswki speculation once and for all, but you can find a detailed case for bringing him in here.
Russell Wilson Trade (15:11)
Russell Wilson has been traded to the Denver Broncos. The AFC is now completely stacked at quarterback, the most important position in the NFL. The AFC West alone now features Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr. This trade doesn’t affect the Buffalo Bills that much, but it just got a lot harder to win the AFC out of the West.
As we saw from the playoffs this season, home field advantage could be enough to swing a game as close as the Divisional round was. Even though the Broncos become another contender against Buffalo, it may be a net positive for our overall seeding this season. Unsurprisingly, Denver wins this trade, and turn into immediate contenders considering the rest of the talent on the roster.
Receiving Options (26:15)
With Wilson out, could Buffalo be in on DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett? The Bills needs receivers for the future, but Metcalf could command too large a price tag for us to stomach this offseason. Lockett is a much more realistic option, with only a $3 million cap hit in 2022.
Stefon Diggs is due an extension too, but Brandon Beane has reportedly yet to speak to him about it. The deal needs to get done soon, limiting his cap hit and keeping him in Buffalo long-term. Another realistic option is Allen Robinson, so we can maintain our fastball. He’s a proven top-level receiver who can replace Cole Beasley in this offense, and could see a jump with Allen throwing to him.
Aaron Rodgers also got a new deal, but sits in a tough cap situation in Green Bay. The NFC is a wasteland, especially after the Wilson trade, and Rodgers has no excuse not to bring this Packers team to a Super Bowl considering the talent he’s surrounded with.
Process or Problem: Defensive Line (37:28)
We’ll start off easy: Gregory Rousseau and Carlos ‘Boogie’ Basham are both due more time. They deserve to be part of the process moving forward, and it makes no sense to part ways with either of the second-year pros. Star Lotulelei, however, shouldn’t be part of the process moving forward. We’d save $1.5 million by cutting him, but we’d also take on $7.5 million in dead cap. His limited ability to stay on the field, and lack of production out there, mean we can’t expect any real play time.
We all expected more in 2021 after his year away from football, and he didn’t deliver. Dead cap may keep him on the roster, but he’s not part of the process. Rico and Z-Bot hit a number of other guys, including A.J. Epenesa, Eli Ankou, Justin Zimmer, Efe Obada, Harrison Phillips, and Vernon Butler.
The two biggest questions are the veterans: Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes. Both guys are likely to be offered one-year deals, with their best years behind them. Hughes is the last true remnant of those drought Bills and he’s done so much for us, but he’s not the threat he used to be. He isn’t thriving in this scheme anymore and the rotation doesn’t suit him, even though he gets pressure more consistently than almost any defensive end in the league.
Hughes holds a special place in our heart, but not on this roster in 2022. You could say similar things about Mario Addison, but his one-year deal would be slightly more expensive. He can still produce, but not at that price tag. Not when the cap is as tricky as it is right now.
Process or Problem: Offensive Line (1:20:30)
Dion Dawkins is a locked down part of this process, and an excellent lineman. He protects Josh Allen’s blind side well and can’t be replaced. Unfortunately, we still need an offensive line that can give us a leading rusher who isn’t the quarterback. Cutting Mitch Morse would save us $7.5 million in cap space, but we can’t ruin this line to save money. Protecting Allen is significantly more important than saving money at the moment. Extending or renegotiating his contract is a much more reasonable option moving forward. After all, Josh Allen just lost his four-year offensive coordinator; we can’t take away his veteran center too.
Jon Felciano and Daryl Williams‘ fates are tragically intertwined. One will likely stay, one will likely go. The Buffalo Bills could see big savings by cutting either one, but we may create a hole by cutting the wrong one or both. Ryan Bates worked well in the lineup and he’s cost effective, locking down the left side between Dawkins and Morse. Williams beat out Feliciano at RG during the season, proving his worth. Interestingly, Cody Ford is still cheap. He may still provide worthwhile depth if we cut one of the pricier veterans, with new OL coach Aaron Kromer attempting to get quality play out of the former second-round pick.
To watch this episode and other Buffalo Bills content, check out the Buffalo Fanatics YouTube channel.