The Buffalo Bills will have to look elsewhere for their third linebacker. According to multiple reports, linebacker David Harris elected to re-sign with the New York Jets rather than testing the free agent market.
Rumored to be among one of Rex Ryan's targets once the free agency period opens on Tuesday, March 10 at 4 pm, Harris instead inked a three-year contract worth a total of $21.5 million. The Bills are in need of another linebacker after the trade for running back LeSean McCoy that surrendered Kiko Alonso to Philadelphia.
Harris, 31, had 123 total tackles in 2014, along with 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He'll be entering his ninth season in the NFL and has only played for the Jets throughout his career.
After the move to trade away Alonso, the Bills still have Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown on the roster.
The start of the free agency period in the National Football League is under a week away and teams are likely preparing their pitches for the available players. The Buffalo Bills, already, have been incredibly active in their search to add to the offense, already acquiring running back LeSean McCoy, quarterback Matt Cassel and guard Richie Incognito.
How else might they attack the offense through free agency? Tight end could be next on the agenda, and a player like Jordan Cameron is an intriguing option:
- In 2011, the Cleveland Browns identified Jordan Cameron as an intriguing, athletic option at tight end that boasted loads of potential. At that point of his football career as just a fourth-round draft pick, his skills weren't refined and he was nothing more than a projection. What he did in two seasons, though, was turn himself into one of the most explosive tight ends in the NFL, and backed it up with a huge season amidst poor quarterback play in 2013. In 14 starts that season, Cameron posted 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns -- and that was dealing with the likes of Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. The problem with Cameron is not what he brings on the field.... it's the vast history the tight end has with concussions. In the past three seasons, Cameron has suffered a concussion on three separate occasions -- with his last one in 2014 having cost him five games on the field. He finished 2014 with only 24 receptions for 424 yards and two touchdowns in 10 total games, but boasted an impressive 17.7 yards per catch.
How He Fits the Bills
- It's very simple for Rex Ryan and Greg Roman and they have stated so publicly: they want to add multiple tight ends to the roster. Cameron would be a dream come true for whoever ends up starting at quarterback for the Bills in the passing game, providing the athleticism and playmaking ability the team has lacked for such a long time. Where Cameron is lacking, is in run blocking. If the Bills are looking for a tight end that has an all-around skill-set, perhaps Cameron won't be their cup of tea. And, with the team likely focusing on the run game as their bread and butter on how to move the football, it potentially builds a case against Cameron. It's hard to ignore the impact as a potential safety blanket for a quarterback, though. He also has the ability to bust a small play into a big one due to mismatches all over the field. As an example, in his first three seasons with the 49ers, the Greg Roman offense had top tight end Vernon Davis averaged 55 catches for 730 yards and 8 touchdowns from 2011 to 2013, which means there is a very big role in this offense to be had by a pass-catching tight end.
Joe B.'s Take
- The Bills have been in search for a player that has Cameron's skill-set for years. In fact, the team loved Cameron back in the 2011 NFL Draft and had designs on using their fourth round selection on him, up until Cleveland ruined their plans. The concussion history is there, and is certainly a risk. However, with what you're getting from a talent perspective, there may not be another tight end available in this free agent class that is as athletically gifted as he is -- and that's including Denver's Julius Thomas. His run blocking is an issue, yes, but when he is on the field defenses always have to be aware of what he's doing. If the Bills have as ferocious an appetite to add a tight end as they've been leading us on to believe, they absolutely should be placing a call to Cameron's representation.
The ink was barely even dry on the stories of the last trade the Buffalo Bills made, and now the franchise has made a move to acquire another piece on offense.
The Bills announced Wednesday that they have agreed to terms to trade for Minnesota quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel and an "undisclosed draft choice" will come to the Bills, in exchange for "undisclosed draft choices" going back to the Vikings.
Cassel played the last two seasons in Minnesota and started a grand total of nine games over that span. In 2013, when he startd six games and appeared in a total of nine, he threw for 1,807 yards, 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions and had a 60.2 completion percentage. Last year, serving as the main backup for Teddy Bridgewater, Cassel started three games and threw for 425 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.
Throughout his career in Minnesota, Kansas City and New England, he has started a total of 71 games, with a career record of 33-38, while throwing for 96 touchdowns to 70 interceptions in all his career appearances. Cassel has one year left on his current contract, and is scheduled to have a cap hit of $4.75 million in 2015.
The move comes less than 24 hours after the Bills acquired running back LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia for linebacker Kiko Alonso.
You've likely been hearing the following statement get louder as each year passes:
"The running back position is being devalued in the National Football League."
By all means, that is true in the way that most teams have operated around the NFL, leading to a lot of movement for ball carriers across the league. They just don't have as big of a market as they once did once they've been in the league for a little while.
Then, the Buffalo Bills shocked the world and traded for the fantasy football darling, LeSean McCoy, in exchange for third-year linebacker Kiko Alonso. McCoy will turn 27 in July, and 28 has been earmarked as the year that sees the most significant decline in production for runners.
So why, then, did the Bills win this trade?
It's simple, really. It's football economics.
Running backs are thought to be a dime a dozen in the NFL, and while true, their dime a dozen brothers on the defensive side of the ball are linebackers. Don't get the message twisted, both these players are very talented ones that were coveted in league circles.
However, when push comes to shove and you have two players that play positions that are almost equally replaceable, the edge is given to the player that possesses the most talent. In this instance, McCoy is the more talented of the two — despite his age.
Alonso is a good player, and he'll fit in well with the Eagles high-flying defensive unit, but the trade was made possible by the depth the Bills have assembled at linebacker in Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown. Even if one of those two players were to suffer an injury, the ability to replenish the position without too much of a drop-off is there.
For the Bills, the talent gap between LeSean McCoy to Fred Jackson is much greater than Alonso to Bradham or Brown, which is why the trade just makes sense from a talent perspective. If you add in the fact that the defense primarily only has two linebackers on the field at any one time, the Bills couldn't get much more incentive to pull the trigger on the deal.
While it's true, the questions on McCoy's mileage in the NFL (going on his seventh season) and how much time is left will be issues, but the short-term benefits are there.
Make no mistake, this is a move for short-term gains. McCoy represents a significant upgrade at the position and with the likely importance placed on running the football, he could become the most important player on the roster in his first year on the job.
If you didn't believe it before with the hiring of Rex Ryan, or with the signing of the maligned Richie Incognito, believe it now: the Bills are going all in on 2015.
Now, if only they can find any ounce of average quarterback play, they can turn postseason dreams into a potential reality.
The Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles have shocked the NFL world.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bills have agreed in principle to acquire running back LeSean 'Shady' McCoy, and in return, give linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Philadelphia Eagles as compensation.
McCoy, 26, comes to the Bills with three years left on his current contract. He'll have a 2015 cap number of $11.95 million, and then subsequent cap hits of $8.85 million in 2016 and $7.85 million in 2017.
Over his six year career with the Eagles, McCoy has rushed for 6,792 yards, 44 touchdowns and a yards per carry average of 4.6. He has also accrued 300 receptions for 2,282 yards and 10 touchdowns to help in the passing game as well.
Out goes Alonso, who was the runner up for defensive rookie of the year honors in 2013. He missed the entirety of the 2014 season due to a torn ACL. In his rookie year, Alonso had 159 total tackles, four interceptions, two sacks and one forced fumble.
The move to acquire McCoy spells the end for C.J. Spiller's tenure in Buffalo, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Spiller told NFL Network shortly after the trade news broke that the Bills called him to thank him for his services.
McCoy will turn 27 in July. According to Schefter, the trade will not be official until the new league year begins on March 10 at 4 pm.
Since the offseason has taken shape, quarterback has been the topic of conversation on the mind of mostly everyone in Buffalo. However, coming in a close second for a position the Bills have admitted that they need to add to is one that has been neglected for years.
It seems the Buffalo Bills are finally going to address the tight end position with more than just a waiver wire pickup, or a fourth-round pick (Shawn Nelson, 2009). While there are some names available that many have grown accustomed to over the past couple of years, where might the Bills strike in free agency?
While not the flashiest add, one player that the Bills could have interest in is former Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham:
- One of the top tight ends available in his draft class, Jermaine Gresham was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Bengals hoped with his 6-foot-5, 260-pound frame that Gresham could develop into one of the next big things at tight end. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition, but what they did get was an every down player that proved to be indispensable for the team throughout numerous trips into the playoffs. Over his five-year career, Gresham has caught an average of 56 passes for 544.4 yards and just a shade under five touchdowns per season. He never truly took the game over as a pass catcher, but Gresham turned himself into a fierce blocker and an outright weapon in the run game. At 26 years old, the tight end still has years of his prime left in the tank.
How He Fits Buffalo
- He isn't the home run addition at tight end some might be hoping for, but if the Bills are looking for an all-around tight end that adds to the passing game, they can do much worse than the consistent Gresham. His hard-nosed style and appetite for run blocking would be right up the alley of new offensive coordinator Greg Roman and head coach Rex Ryan, who are both looking to establish the run in 2015. The tight end is as tough as they come and doesn't back down to any assignment in front of him.
Joe B.'s Take
- The Bills would likely add more to the position, but Gresham could be a cost-effective option at tight end if they swing and miss on the upper-echelon of free agents like Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron or Charles Clay. Buffalo absolutely should take a swing on one of the top three, simply because they can add an element to the passing attack that doesn't currently exist on their roster. Gresham wouldn't be a big step up in pass-catching, but he is more of an all-around player than Scott Chandler. He would be a suitable Plan B if all else fails.
The Buffalo Bills have one of the most unenviable tasks of the offseason. They must find suitable competition to be the starting quarterback for them in 2015, without a first-round draft pick, in one of the thinnest quarterback classes over the past few years, and with a free agent class that doesn't offer a particularly inspiring option.
Even though all of that is true, the Bills must sign a player to line up under center and serve as direct competition for former first-round pick EJ Manuel.
Who might be some options to fill? Let's take a look at unrestricted free agent Jake Locker:
- Once upon a time, Jake Locker was all the rage around college football and amongst draftniks. Following a successful junior season, Locker was pegged as the favorite to be the top overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. As the season carried on, his game at Washington was increasingly picked apart and the previous coat of shine from the preseason had been dulled. In the end, Locker ended up being the eighth overall selection in the draft, and the Tennessee Titans' future at quarterback. He couldn't get on the field much in his rookie season, but the shackles were removed in 2012. He started 11 games, with a shoulder injury that kept him out for five games sandwiched in the middle of the season. He came back in 2013 and showed some signs of progress, before succumbing to a hip and knee injury that kept him out for two games. Upon his return, just three weeks later Locker suffered a foot injury that ended his season. In 2014 with a new head coach in Ken Whisenhunt, Locker got the go-ahed to start the season as the top quarterback. He started four of the team's first five games, and then a hand injury forced him to miss the next six games. He made it back to start for an injured Zach Mettenberger in Week 15, but left the game early with a shoulder injury and was placed on Injured Reserve. Over his career, Locker has completed 57.5-percent of his passes for 4,967 yards, 27 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He also has 644 career rushing yards and five touchdowns.
How He Fits Buffalo
- If you look at Locker as just a quarterback rather than one with the proclivity for injuries, his skill-set fits Greg Roman's offense, arguably better than any of the other options. In his time in San Francisco, Roman utilized read-option whether it was with Alex Smith or with Colin Kaepernick, and Jake Locker could be used in the same mold. While his accuracy is less than stellar, he possesses the ability to throw a pretty ball with his incredibly strong arm. Locker's pocket presence and getting out of the pocket properly when pressure is felt is an asset, which could be a characteristic the Bills are looking for after a year of poor offensive line play in 2014.
Joe B.'s Take
- Of the remaining options in free agency, Locker is the only player a front office member should be 'pounding the table' for. Still only 26, the former first-round pick only has 23 starts to his name, and he actually showed signs of improvement in the starts over 2013 and 2014. There are clear examples of games that Locker, quite frankly, just didn't have it (see: Cincinnati in 2014). However, if the Bills are looking for the lesser of the evils, and for the quarterback that could be the biggest hit of those available, it's hard to look anywhere other than with Locker. The injuries are of course an issue, and should be considered for contractual purposes. Also, be prepared, he is not a perfect player, and likely will never be anything but average. However, with where the Bills are in terms of the rest of their roster, average will suffice in a bid for the playoffs.
The Jairus Byrd drama from two years ago will not be duplicated at One Bills Drive. The National Football League deadline for teams to use the franchise and transition tags on impending unrestricted free agents has passed, and the Buffalo Bills declined to use either option.
Bills GM Doug Whaley confirmed the decision with a very brief statement:
"We have chosen not to use the franchise or transition tags this year."
Of the players set to hit the open market on March 10, the only name that might have garnered some consideration for the franchise tag was defensive end Jerry Hughes. Hughes, 26, is coming off back-to-back seasons that he amassed 10 sacks and is the highest-ticket unrestricted free agent from the Bills roster in 2014.
If the Bills would have applied the franchise tag to Hughes, they would have owed him a fully guaranteed $14.813 million for 2015 if the two sides could not strike a longterm agreement. Buffalo originally acquired the defensive end in a one-for-one trade (for Kelvin Sheppard) with the Indianapolis Colts in the 2013 offseason.
In addition to Hughes, the other notable free agents coming from the Bills roster are running back C.J. Spiller and safety Da'Norris Searcy. Teams can begin to contact the representation of unrestricted free agents starting on March 7, leading to the beginning of the free agency on March 10 at 4 pm when players can start to officially sign with other teams.
The Josh McCown derby is officially over, and the Buffalo Bills are without the veteran quarterback that they so coveted. The Cleveland Browns announced on Friday night that they had agreed to a free agent contract with McCown, spurning the Bills' offer.
The Bills started the courtship process of the 12-year veteran quarterback last week ahead of the 2015 NFL Combine in Indianapolis. After his two-day visit in Buffalo, he met with both the Chicago Bears and New York Jets at the Combine, and then traveled to Cleveland this week to meet with the Browns.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the 35-year old McCown signed a three-year contract with the Browns to compete with Johnny Manziel for the starting quarterback job. He was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the month after accruing a 1-10 record in 2014. In his career, McCown thrown for 61 touchdowns to 59 interceptions.
The Bills still only have two quarterbacks on the roster: former first-round pick EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel. The official start of the NFL Free Agency Period is set for March 10 at 4 pm.
A week after the Buffalo Bills initially brought the apple of their free agent quarterback eye in for a visit, it appears the two sides are entering the next phase of a potential partnership. According to one report, free agent quarterback Josh McCown and the Bills are getting a bit more serious.
Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News reported Thursday morning that the Bills and McCown have started to discuss the financial aspect of a potential contract, and if all goes well, a deal could be struck as soon as Friday. The free agent quarterback was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the month, and has since visited with the Bills, Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.
In one season with Tampa Bay, McCown went 1-10 as a starter and passed for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He signed as a free agent with the Buccaneers after a successful season as Jay Cutler's backup in Chicago. When Cutler was injured, McCown threw for 1,829 yards and 13 touchdowns to just one interception in eight games of work.
The 35-year old McCown will be entering the 13th year of his career.