Friday, March 7, 2014
Free-agency primer: Bills
By Mike Rodak
Key free agents: S Jairus Byrd, TE Scott Chandler, K Dan Carpenter
Where they stand: With just six unrestricted free agents -- the fewest in the league -- the Bills are in good shape heading into free agency. However, they could lose one of their best players. The Bills decided not to franchise Byrd, a three-time Pro Bowler; franchising him would have cost $8.4 million against the cap and risked another summer-long contract dispute. The Bills need offensive weapons and help along the offensive line. They could use the ninth overall pick in the draft to help improve their offense while supplementing other positions through free agency. Jim Schwartz's defensive scheme could require some help at linebacker, while they will need reinforcements at safety if Byrd signs elsewhere.
What to expect: The Bills have about $25 million in cap space and will be "active" in free agency, according to CEO Russ Brandon. One sleeper position to watch is quarterback, where the Bills have thrown their support behind EJ Manuel but still could look for a veteran as a backup plan. They've shown a preference for mobile quarterbacks, which could mean Michael Vick is on their radar.
The Bills recently worked out linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Jameel McClain, who were released by their former teams (Arizona and Baltimore, respectively), which could signal an interest at that position. They just gave Aaron Williams, their young safety, a contract extension, but they could be in the market for a second-tier free agent there.