AFC Notes: Bills, Dolphins, Patriots

     

Bills

Regarding the Bills’ backup quarterback situation, GM Brandon Beane praised QB Jake Fromm for the progress he made as a rookie last season behind Josh Allen and Matt Barkley.

“Jake Fromm had the most un-normal year a player could ever have, to have to come in here and be the COVID quarantine quarterback,” Beane said, via Marcel Louis Jacques of ESPN. “I thought he handled it greatly. In his exit meeting we just praised him for staying true. He would literally be back there hearing the call in his helmet, and while Josh [Allen] or Barkley are going back [in the pocket], he’s going back just like he’s making the throw from 20 yards back. He stays after and throws with the practice squad.

Beane implied that Fromm is expected to be on the roster next season as a backup. 

Really tough year for him, but … it will help him going into next offseason. He’ll be excited to be able to sit in the quarterback room within six or seven feet of the other guys.”

Josh Allen also gave his vote of approval of Fromm, describing that he came away impressed by the former fifth-round pick for his progress last season. 

“It’s not an easy ask, to put a guy who’s played his entire career and just kind of say, ‘Go over there and stay away from everybody,'” Allen said. “He’s handled it with a lot of pride. He takes pride in his work, and it’s good to see a guy like that go in there and do his job. He’s been a pleasure to be around, he’s grown a lot since he first got here, and he’s been awesome in the quarterback room.”

As for Matt Barkley, Beane also pointed out that the veteran backup helped Allen become the “best version of himself” and has been a valued teammate.

What a selfless guy. Some guys are the backup and they’re itching to play,” Beane said. “Matt’s a competitor, he wants to play, but his first thing every day he walks in this door is to help Josh Allen be the best version of himself. And that’s why it’s been so great to have him.”

Barkley’s contract ends this offseason as well. Beane refused to touch on the quarterback’s expiring deal but reiterated that Barkley has been “big for our team culture.” 

“Without getting into contracts, we’ll see, but very appreciative of Matt, even his wife, Brittany, does a great job of helping wives connect. It’s big for our team culture. So the Barkleys have been a big blessing to the Buffalo Bills. We’ll see [on] the business side where that ends up.”

Dolphins

  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that there have been some discussions within the Dolphins’ organization about whether or not they should clear a good amount of cap space and be “very aggressive” in free agency. 
  • According to Jackson, there’s at least one member of the Dolphins’ upper brass who supports another “spending spree” this offseason. However, Jackson says a decision still needs to be made by the team regarding their specific free agency plans. 
  • Jackson notes that the Dolphins can increase their cap situation from $26 million to “more than $60 million” by restructuring contracts and cutting players.
  • Jackson also cites an “associate” of Dolphins WR Albert Wilson, who mentioned that the receiver is unsure of his role going into 2021 or if he will be on the training camp roster. 
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that the Dolphins’ chances of acquiring Texans QB Deshaun Watson largely depend on whether he is actually made available prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. At this point, Jackson says it’s “dubious” whether Houston will make Watson available for trade before the draft.

Patriots

With Nick Caserio now in Houston as the Texans GM, Dave Ziegler has been named the director of player personnel in New England. The Patriots are entering a pivotal offseason and are expected to have the fourth-most cap space in the league, which means they’ll likely be one of the most active teams in free agency. 

Ziegler explained that cap space gives them flexibility in terms of building out their roster for the 2021 season. 

“I think having cap space gives you flexibility,” Ziegler said in an interview with Patriots team reporter Megan O’Brien. “There aren’t a whole lot of teams at this point that maybe have a lot of cap space, so I think having that flexibility, it just opens up options for you. And I think that at the same time, there’s still a responsibility to spend those dollars wisely.”

Ziegler did say that he has been more involved in the Patriots’ front office process this offseason. 

“And it’s exciting. A new challenge, more involvement, being able to lead more people and hopefully have a greater impact is something that we all strive for in our careers. So it’s an exciting opportunity and something I’m ready to keep grinding away at.”

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