In the grand 36 Chambers tradition of stealing posts from co-authors, I’m going to take one from Tony and talk about Buffalo’s free agents. I’ll take them from the top of the list down, noting that right now, the Bills have approximately $22 million available.
- Kyle Orton is retiring. For real this time. I’d argue that he’s still the third-best quarterback in the AFC East, but that doesn’t mean very much. I say let him go.
- Jerry Hughes is looking for a big payday. He’s the fourth-best lineman on Buffalo’s front, but he did reach double-digit sacks two years in a row. I’d love to see him re-signed, but that cap room is pretty tight, especially if Hughes wants $10 million a year.
- Erik Pears is an under-performing guard on an under-performing line. Let him go.
- Brandon Spikes ended up being a good run-stopper, just like Buffalo wanted. Given Preston Brown’s emergence and Kiko Alonso’s return, I think Buffalo should let Spikes go and save that money for another position.
- Da’Norris Searcy is a solid starter. Between Searcy, Aaron Williams, and Duke Williams, Buffalo’s safety situation is fluid and lets the Bills focus on coverage (Williams-Williams) or hard-hitting (Williams-Searcy) depending upon the down. If he isn’t expensive, re-sign him.
- Chris Hairston has dropped to swing tackle. He’s pretty much a replacement-level offensive lineman, so as long as he’s under $1 million, I’d say re-sign him. If he gets much more expensive, let him go.
- Marcus Easley was a big talent whose career was derailed by injuries. At this point, he’s a very good gunner and not really a receiving threat. If he’s cheap, re-sign him, but if he wants real money, let him go.
- Lee Smith is a blocking tight end who is third on the depth chart. I’d rather Buffalo find someone else or develop a prospect here. Let him go.
- Jarius Wynn was Buffalo’s fifth man on the line. He made $635K last year and if he’s at about that rate again, I’d like to see him re-signed. Again, $1 million is probably my cutoff point.
- Stevenson Sylvester never played a snap for Buffalo due to injury and is a third-string middle linebacker. Let him go if there’s anybody better on the roster.
- Larry Dean is a backup and like Sylvester, I’d say let him go if there’s anybody with a better-looking future.
- Chris Hogan broke out last year as Buffalo’s slot receiver after the Mike Williams flop. Because of his free agent status (ERFA), the Bills don’t need to pay him much. They definitely should re-sign him.
- Corbin Bryant is the fourth or fifth defensive tackle. He’s also an ERFA, so re-sign him.
- Jordan Gay is Buffalo’s kickoff specialist. That’s all he does, kick off. But considering that Buffalo’s other two kicker types aren’t very good at kickoffs, they’d might as well re-sign him.
- Marcus Thigpen was Buffalo’s kick returner last year. He really does nothing else. He’s really cheap, but the Bills have a few other return men around. Let him go.
- Deonte Thompson was signed from the Ravens’ practice squad. He’s extremely fast but hasn’t done much historically with the Ravens. Re-sign him on the cheap, but without a signing bonus.
- Nick Sukay is a restricted free agent who has never made it off the practice squad, it appears. I don’t care.
There’s one big name not on this list: CJ Spiller. Spiller is a top-end potential who was gravely mis-used in Buffalo. He’s a sideline-to-sideline speed and receiving threat whom the Bills tried to use as an up-the-gut bruiser, and as a result, they failed miserably. Spiller has a player option and he’ll probably end up using it. If I’m Spiller, I want out of Buffalo—their offensive line is weak and given rumors of Rex Ryan becoming the head coach, I don’t see an offensive resurgence. Instead, I see more of the same “run up the gut for two yards” madness.