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The Buffalo Bills will look to be “judicious” in free agency according to GM Brandon Beane. With over $80M in cap space and plenty of holes along the offensive side of the ball, the Bills will be active when free agency starts on March 19th.
One major need is among the Bills offensive line, as they finished the season ranked 26th overall and second-worst in the NFL in run-blocking. Buffalo saw struggles with LeSean McCoy averaging a career low 3.2 yards per carry, and giving up 28 sacks in Josh Allen’s 12 games last season.
The Bills will look to bolster the line in front of Allen, with C Ryan Groy, OT Jordan Mills, and OG John Miller facing unrestricted free agency this offseason. Buffalo will have multiple possibilities if they choose to not re-sign any of the three.
1. Matt Pradis
A 2014 sixth-round pick of the Denver Broncos, Matt Pradis is widely considered one of the top centers available in free agency. Before breaking his leg in Week 9 of the 2018 season, Pradis was playing at an elite level as one of only two centers (Jason Kelce) to have pass and run-blocking grades of 77.
Matt Pradis has only been penalized 3 times in 25 games since the start of the 2017 season, compared to Buffalo’s current starter Russell Bodine, who had 3 penalties in 10 games last season.
While Pradis looks to be in high demand, Brandon Beane will have to decide how much money he is willing to put into the position for the second consecutive offseason, as Russell Bodine has only one year left on his contract.
2. Mitch Morse
Mitch Morse is coming off a solid season in one of the NFL’s top ranked offenses, as PFF graded Morse with a 69.5, 13th among centers. Morse only allowed 5 pressures in 534 pass-blocking snaps, and hasn’t allowed a sack since his rookie season in 2015.
Due to being only 26-years old and his previous success in the NFL, Morse may demand top dollar, which might be out of range for Beane, but protecting QB Josh Allen needs to be top priority for the Bills. With Morse’s age, he could anchor the line in front of Allen for years to come.
3. Rodger Saffold
With the Los Angeles Rams pending free agency of players like Ndamukong Suh, Dante Fowler Jr., and Rodger Saffold this offseason, there may not be enough money to spread around for the defending NFC Champions.
Since being drafted in the second-round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Saffold has played about every offensive line position.
Versatility is an asset that HC Sean McDermott values in his players. Saffold can provide that at an elite level, as PFF graded him at 72.8, which was ranked 9th among guards. Rodger Saffold may be entering this season at the age of 31, but he has plenty to offer the Buffalo Bills after anchoring one of the top lines in the NFL last season.
4. B.J. Finney
B.J. Finney has been a steady presence for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their top ranked offensive line, finishing the year graded at 71.5. While Finney hasn’t earned a starting role with the Steelers, his production of allowing only 5 pressures in 234 regular season snaps shows that he is deserving of getting a starting opportunity somewhere else. If other top free agent linemen end up somewhere other than Buffalo, then Finney might be worth a one-year ‘prove it’ deal to help bolster the trenches.
5. Daryl Williams
With Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott coming to Buffalo from the Carolina Panthers, there has been no shortage of former Panthers coming through One Bills Drive. Daryl Williams is an intriguing option, considering he will be 27 next season and coming off of IR after suffering a knee injury in 2018.
The previous season, Williams finished with a grade of 77.2 overall and was considered one of the best right tackles in 2017. Much like B.J. Finney, Daryl Williams may need to take a one-year ‘prove it’ deal to show that he can stay healthy throughout the season.
Featured Image: Brett Carlsen, Getty Images