For a team with so many holes to fill this offseason, the Buffalo Bills don’t seem to be in a hurry to fill them. The Bills have remained mostly inactive on the free agent market, and two weeks into the free-agent season, there has been little fanfare in Buffalo, as the Bills have failed to make a splash or make significant progress toward filling all the holes on their roster.
So far this offseason the Bills have done a lot more subtracting from their roster than adding to their roster. The Bills quickly cut safety George Wilson, linebacker Nick Barnett, and cornerback Terrence McGee: three underachieving parts of what was a porous Bills defense last year. Offensively, Buffalo also cut quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and allowed wide receiver Donald Jones and offensive linemen Chad Rinehart and Andy Levitre to sign with other teams. The Bills were obviously fine with several of those players leaving, but the exit of a few of those players only creates more holes for them to fill this offseason.
The only moves Buffalo has made to sign or retain players this offseason have been placing the franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd and signing linebacker Manny Lawson, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals. Keeping Byrd was essential, as he is one of the best young safeties in the NFL and could become a cornerstone of Buffalo’s secondary if they can sign him to a long-term deal. Lawson is also a great addition, as linebacker was perhaps Buffalo’s biggest need this offseason, and Lawson gives them an every down player that is proficient against the run and in pass coverage.
Retaining Byrd and acquiring Lawson is a good start, but it’s not nearly enough. The Bills have a lot of missing parts, especially on defense, and they won’t be able to address all of their defensive needs in the draft, as they will need to address the quarterback position and different parts of the offense as well. Buffalo isn’t exactly a favorite free-agent destination among players, but the organization was willing to open up its checkbook and bring in Mario Williams last year, and the team needs to make a similar effort and commitment in the free-agent market this year. To this point, the Bills participation in free agency has been a disappointment, and that’s something that needs to change if the organization is going to get turned around.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.