The Buffalo Bills weren’t big spenders during the 2016 NFL Free Agency period due to salary cap restrictions, but after signing several low cost veteran free agents, the team added some much needed talent and depth during the draft. A nagging shoulder injury that was aggravated in minicamp to their first-round pick, defensive end Shaq Lawson required surgery that will likely cause him to miss the first several games of the year and a foot injury to star wide receiver Sammy Watkins sucked a lot of excitement from fans.
While these are definitely big blows to Buffalo’s immediate future, every year there’s several veteran players still looking for work as teams prepare for training camp and with the salary cap space created by Cordy Glenn’s contract extension, the Bills could add some depth at positions of need.
General Manager Doug Whaley is always doing his diligence on players around the league—just today, the team brought in wide receiver Andre Roberts and linebacker Jamari Lattimore in for workouts. So which other veterans are still on the market that could be provide value on the field at a low cost?
WR Anquan Boldin
Anquan Boldin is 35-years old, but the 6’1” 218-pound wide receiver continued to be a reliable target in his 13th season last year, hauling in 69 passes for 789 yards and four touchdowns, despite the likes of the struggling Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert throwing to him. Boldin is a veteran that would not only be a strong presence in a young wide receiver room, but would bring the much-needed size and physicality in red zone and third down situations that the Bills have lacked for years. Boldin obviously isn’t the superstar that he once was, but he’s likely a No. 3 wideout at worst on just about any team in the league and would arguably compete for a starting job in Buffalo the day he walks in the door.
EDGE Mike Neal
Rex Ryan is all about versatility and former Green Bay Packers’ defensive tackle/end/outside linebacker Mike Neal brings just that. Last season he started 15 games, recording 39 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, six sacks (credited with nine by ProFootballFocus) and two forced fumbles. Standing 6’3” and weighing 263 pounds, Neal has similar size to that of Shaq Lawson and also has the ability to line up anywhere from the five-technique defensive end position to a stand up rusher in 3-4 alignments.
S William Moore
When healthy, William Moore is one of the more talented safeties in the National Football League. However, he’s played in just 18 games over the last two years and has only played 16 games in two of his seven career seasons. The Atlanta Falcons released Moore during the offseason to avoid his $6.625 million salary cap charge, but with his durability concerns and age (31-years old) he’ll cost a fraction of that today. In 11 games last season, Moore racked up 51 tackles, two interceptions, broke up four passes and forced a fumble. The safety position is a major question mark on the Bills’ roster and the position’s depth chart is extremely unflattering. Moore is a physical strong safety that thrives in the box and is the exact style of safety that Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan covets and has utilized throughout his entire coaching career.
EDGE Kroy Biermann
The Bills brought in Kroy Biermann for a visit during the free agency period but didn’t sign him to a deal. The injury to Shaq Lawson who plays the same edge defender position as Biermann may make the team’s front office reconsider that decision. In just 520 defensive snaps last season while splitting reps with rookie Vic Beasley, the 30-year old Biermann recorded 51 tackles, two for a loss, 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble. While he doesn’t offer much in terms of pass rush (23.5 sacks in eight seasons), he’s one of the better run defenders in the league, ranking No. 7 in that area among 110 edge defenders according to ProFootballFocus.
CB Leon Hall
The Bills signed cornerbacks Sterling Moore and Corey White before using their sixth-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft on Keyvon Seymour, but in a league that’s throwing the ball more than ever, you can never have enough cornerbacks. Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby are a fantastic duo on the outside, but the 31-year old former Cincinnati Bengal would be a great addition to the Bills’ secondary. At 5’11” and 195 pounds, Hall is best suited for the slot, where he shines in man coverage and shows tremendous athletic ability, but he also can play outside and even some safety if needed. In the last two seasons, he’s recorded 84 tackles while breaking up 16 passes and making two interceptions. Although he doesn’t provide much in terms of special teams ability, he’s a clear upgrade over both White and Moore and would immediately push Nickell Robey for the starting nickel job.