What did we learn about Bills in March?

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
5:00
AM ET
It doesn't feel like spring quite yet, but the third month of the offseason will wrap up today.

Four weeks ago, we asked what we would learn about the Buffalo Bills this month.

Here are the answers to most of those questions, along with some other developments:

Uncertain times in Orchard Park: March went out like a lion for the Bills. The death of owner Ralph Wilson on March 25 sends the franchise into uncharted territory. There won't be any immediate changes, but the eventual sale of the team has naturally led to questions about relocation and the future of the team in the market. The same week that Wilson died the Bills announced their appointments to a "new stadium working group," a committee that will explore the possibility of building a new stadium in the area. The matters of new ownership and a new stadium are interconnected and together they will remain part of the discussion around the team for the next several years.

Bills 'postpone' Toronto game: As predicted, the Bills came to a resolution over their beleaguered Toronto series this month. The game won't be played this season, but the Bills' deal with Rogers Communications remains in place and could resume in future years. It's a decision that came after years of fan complaints about the atmosphere in the Rogers Centre and the lack of an eighth home game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The "postponement" of the series is cast in a brighter light following Wilson's death; if the eighth home game leads to a lag in ticket sales, especially a blackout, it will be a black mark for the region's case against relocation.

Byrd flies away: It seems ages ago given the news of the past several weeks, but the Bills lost a three-time Pro Bowl player this month. The New Orleans Saints signed safety Jairus Byrd to a deal worth $9 million per season, a price that it's hard to fault the Bills for avoiding. However, they still must fill the void within their defense. They're expecting continued improvement from Aaron Williams and gave him a contract extension that reflects that hope, but their other safety spot is a question mark. At the NFL owners meetings this month, coach Doug Marrone suggested that cornerback Corey Graham -- who signed a four-year deal on March 12 -- could be a candidate at that position.

Spikes and linebacker shuffle: The Bills' biggest splash of free agency came when they signed Brandon Spikes, who figures to add an aggressive presence to their defense, especially against the run. Spikes will slide in at middle linebacker in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's 4-3 scheme, with Kiko Alonso moving to the weak side. The Bills also signed Keith Rivers to presumably start on the strong side, and he could also play a role within the sub defense. Changes under Schwartz may reduce veteran linebacker Manny Lawson to a lesser role within the defense.

Joint practices planned: The Bills will likely have the NFL's busiest summer. They figure to start training camp a week earlier than usual -- as early as July 19 -- as they play in the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 3. At some point after that, the Bills will travel to Latrobe, Pa., for joint practices with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Because of ongoing renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills have requested their first two preseason games to be played on the road. Combined with their annual trip to St. John Fisher College, the Bills' equipment and operations staffs will be busy this summer.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


Insider