2024 NFL Offseason Primer: Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills

Projected Cap Space: -$43.3 million

Draft Picks: 10

  • 1st (No. 28)
  • 2nd (No. 60)
  • 3rd (No. 99, comp)
  • 4th (No. 129)
  • 5th (No. 159, GB)
  • 5th (No. 162)
  • 6th (No. 198, LAR)
  • 6th (No. 202, DAL)
  • 6th (No. 206)
  • 7th (No. 246)

Notable Free Agents: 

Top Three Needs

1 – Defensive Line

Buffalo ended the season with 12 defensive linemen on the roster. Just four — Von Miller, Gregory Rousseau, Ed Oliver and Kingsley Jonathan — are still under contract for the 2024 season. Purely from a numbers perspective, the team has work to do here. 

A lot of that will be focused on defensive tackle as the team tries to restock the room around Oliver, who was re-signed as one of their core pieces going forward last summer. Jones is testing his market but depending on what he finds it’s possible he could be back. One or more of the Bills’ 10 draft picks will also likely be aimed at finding cheap contributors here. 

The Bills are in a little better shape on the edge with Rousseau and Miller as expected starters. But they need more to fill out the rotation. Bills GM Brandon Beane has put a huge emphasis on having waves of pass rushers to compete in the AFC and help fight the equivalent of a long-running Godzilla Versus fill-in-the-blank movie franchise. 

Buffalo’s pushing a lot of chips in on Miller being a difference-maker with another offseason between him and knee surgery. Rousseau is a solid starter but hasn’t developed into a double-digit sack producer as Buffalo has hoped. Floyd and Epenesa could have a healthy market and the Bills don’t have a big budget. The team is almost assuredly going to address the position in the draft, and then will likely have to fill out the rest of the room with veterans who are available in the third or fourth waves of free agency. The good news is teams have had a lot of success pulling from that well in recent seasons. 

2 – Wide Receiver

In the divisional loss to the Chiefs, the Bills had some success matriculating the ball up and down the field, but they just missed on a handful of explosive plays that could have made the difference in the outcome. Combined with the likely loss of Davis in free agency and star WR Stefon Diggs crossing the age-30 threshold, it’s time for the Bills to give their pass-catching group some attention. 

Someone who can stretch the field would be a good fit, especially given the cannon arm QB Josh Allen possesses. Defenses are focused more than ever on taking away deep shots but offenses still need to be able to threaten that part of the field to create space. The other way to create explosive plays is with players who can pick up yards after the catch, and the Bills’ brass pointed that out at the Combine this week. That makes for a number of potential ways for the Bills to reinforce their wideout group. 

The future of Diggs has been the subject of some speculation, but his contract is difficult both for the Bills to move and for another team to take on. There doesn’t seem to be as much friction between him and QB Josh Allen this year compared to whatever happened last year, which still isn’t clear. Diggs’ production tailed off in the back half of the season, which is worth monitoring. 

3 – Secondary

The Bills are facing major turnover in the secondary this offseason and could end up with three or four new starters out of five. Hyde is on an expiring contract and mulling retirement. Guys like S Jordan Poyer and nickel CB Taron Johnson are potential cap casualties, along with CB Tre’Davious White who’s recovering from a torn Achilles. Landing CB Rasul Douglas at the trade deadline stabilized the cornerback group last year but he’s got a significant cap hit and cutting him would free up $10 million. 

I suspect the Bills will find alternatives rather than just taking a machete to this group. Douglas could sign an extension to lower his cap hit, while White is a good candidate for a pay cut based on how his rehab progresses. The Bills have some younger options at cornerback like Christian Benford and former first-rounder Kaiir Elam, but the depth chart is much thinner at safety. 

Both cornerback and safety figure to be targets for the Bills in the draft, as at this point in their roster life cycle they need contributing players on rookie contracts like they need oxygen. The bright side for the Bills is it’s a deep free agent group of safeties and that will depress the contract value for the group as a whole, potentially allowing the team to find some bargains. 

One Big Question

How long can the Bills keep the window open?

When teams talk about the challenges of building around a big-money franchise quarterback, the current state of the Bills’ roster is what they mean. Allen is worth every penny but when a contract eats up that much of the pie, it becomes even more important for teams to create surplus value, usually by hitting on draft picks. 

Otherwise teams just become older and more expensive until they reach a critical mass and a hard reset is needed, like the Chargers. The Bills aren’t quite there — at least not in the opinion of Beane and HC Sean McDermott — but they’re close. They’re tens of millions in the red with a long list of pending free agents and a top-heavy roster. 

Restructuring Allen will knock out a chunk of their deficit, but Buffalo’s alternatives for the rest are either cutting veterans or pushing more money out on contracts for guys like Diggs or Miller that are already highly leveraged. This is the path the Bills have chosen, though, so they have to cross their fingers and hope for the best. 

The real way out is for the Bills to start drafting better. Beane has hit on some starters but the last “star” was Oliver, and while he’s a good starter, “star” is probably generous. One good draft class can fuel a franchise for years, but the pressure is on for the Bills. They have to ace this offseason otherwise bigger changes could be in store in 2025. 

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