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Bills Beat Blog

By Joe Buscaglia
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Bills Free Agency Primer

Today marks the start of free agency, and the names will by flying around throughout the next few days. Before the madness begins, I just wanted to take a time out and bring you some players that I think the Buffalo Bills could be targeting with their copious amounts of cap room this off-season.

The Bills are in need of a true backup option that has the ability to be successful if Ryan Fitzpatrick goes down with an injury. I would assume backup caliber quarterbacks would find Buffalo as an attractive destination, much like Fitzpatrick did just a couple of off-seasons ago. There is no long-term commitment to any one man at that position on the roster, so some players may look at that as a golden opportunity to get in to a starting job without a highly-touted early round rookie waiting in the wings.

Who they may target:
QB Bruce Gradkowski, Oakland
QB Tyler Thigpen, Miami
QB Matt Moore, Carolina
QB Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota

- Gradkowski is not the most talented player out there, but he's got plenty of starting experience and can win games from time to time. Thigpen has worked with Chan Gailey in his only extended stay as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Moore had somewhat of a future in Carolina that was derailed this past season. Meanwhile Jackson is just looking for an opportunity to start.

My best guess: Tyler Thigpen.
Makes a lot of sense for both sides.

Tight End
Bills fans have been clamoring for an addition of even an above average tight end for quite some time, only to be disappointed every off-season. The closest thing to addressing it was the drafting of Shawn Nelson two years ago, but he's been mired in a spell of migraines and inconsistent play to truly make an impact. So will the Bills add a tight end of note with Nelson, David Martin, Scott Chandler and Mike Caussin already on board?

Who they may target:
TE Todd Heap, Baltimore
TE Zach Miller, Oakland
TE Kevin Boss, New York Giants
TE Matt Spaeth, Pittsburgh
TE David Thomas, New Orleans

-Heap and Miller will be the top tight ends available, but I don't expect the Bills to go all out for a tight end like that. Kevin Boss is a little more their style, but even he is a stretch in my eyes. Spaeth or Thomas are the types of lower-tier tight ends that the Bills may be looking for.

My best guess: None. If any, Matt Spaeth.

Offensive Tackle
The Bills used their earliest selection on an offensive tackle in quite some time when the team took Clemson OT Chris Hairston. Despite that fact, Buffalo's issues on the bookends of the offensive line remain. Demetrius Bell is strikingly average, and Mansfield Wrotto/Erik Pears seems like they'd be much better suited as depth players. I believe this is their number one position of need to be addressed this week. Luckily for them, there's plenty of depth in free agency at the position.

Who they may target:
OT Alex Barron, Dallas
OT Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans
OT Tyson Clabo, Atlanta
OT Doug Free, Dallas
OT Jared Gaither, Baltimore
OT Ryan O'Callaghan, Kansas City
OT Jeremy Trueblood, Tampa Bay

- All the players listed above have starting experience in their careers. I think Clabo and Free will likely be re-signed by their original teams. Barron has had a questionable beginning to his career, meanwhile Bushrod performed quite well for the Saints over the past couple of years. Bills fans have had their eye on Gaither since last off-season, so he could be a possibility. O'Callaghan is a former Patriot turned Chief, and Trueblood started for four seasons until a knee injury helped lead to his demotion this past season with Tampa Bay.

My best guess: Jeremy Trueblood.
He's got the starting experience I'm guessing Buddy Nix would like, and he can play right tackle right away.

Inside Linebacker
If the Buffalo Bills do not re-sign Paul Posluszny, this will be a position of need for the team. With Posluszny on the roster, he would start along side Andra Davis. Without Posluszny, the older Davis would start alongside either Reggie Torbor or rookie Kelvin Sheppard. Now while starting the rookie looks sexy on paper, realize he has missed a ton of time without mini-camps and OTA's this year. My guess is the Bills would like to bring him along slowly anyway.

Who they may target:
ILB Stewart Bradley, Philadelphia
ILB Kevin Burnett, San Diego
ILB Stephen Cooper, San Diego
ILB D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland
ILB Barrett Ruud, Tampa Bay

- All five of these men could fit the inside of the Bills' 3-4 scheme at linebacker. Yes, I know Stephen Tulloch is a free agent. No, I don't think he's a fit.

My best guess: Paul Posluszny.
I don't think there's any way the Bills will let him walk.

Outside Linebacker
Chris Kelsay, Shawne Merriman, Arthur Moats and Aaron Maybin headline this group. Kelsay was steady down the stretch of last season, while Moats showed a lot of potential in his rookie season. Merriman is a $2.5 million gamble that may or may not pay off, and Maybin is well, you know. If the Bills can add a plug-in starter in free agency, it would be crucial to the development of their 3-4.

Who they may target:
OLB Manny Lawson, San Francisco
OLB Kamerion Wimbley, Oakland
OLB LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh

- Lawson isn't as good as Wimbley, who isn't as good as Woodley. If I'm the Bills, it's Woodley or bust as far as outside linebackers go. I'm not willing to sacrifice Moats' development for Lawson or Wimbley.

My best guess: None

Around the country, people may look at the Bills' secondary and perceive a strength. That is a falsity to Bills fans that know the roster. Terrence McGee is on his last legs in the NFL, Leodis McKelvin is terribly inconsistent and Aaron Williams is only a rookie who is far from starting. I believe Drayton Florence will be a priority for the Bills much in the way Posluszny is. Florence is the exact type of corner and calming presence they need for the secondary. He's not the greatest in the league, but he'll be the best corner on the team.

Who they may target:
CB Chris Carr, Baltimore
CB Ellis Hobbs, Philadelphia
CB Richard Marshall, Carolina
CB Eric Wright, Cleveland

- The Bills could choose to go after any one of these players, but in the end, I think it all boils down to one man.

My best guess: Drayton Florence.
The Bills want him here, he wants to be here, I think it will get done.

Twitter: @JoeB_WGR

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