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Custom Dawson Knox Jersey Large

After the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals earlier this offseason, the Buffalo Bills appeared to have overpaid in their trade with the Minnesota Vikings for Stefon Diggs.

However, that may not be the case.

The trade for Stefon Diggs included the Bills sending their first round pick this year (22nd overall), as well as a 2020 fifth-round pick, a 2020 sixth-round pick and a fourth round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. In return, the Bills received wide receiver Stefon Diggs and a seventh round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Bills had been looking for a top wide receiver for a while now but saw Kelvin Benjamin struggle to replicate anything similar to his rookie season and 2017 second round pick Zay Jones never produce on a consistent level.

The addition of Stefon DIggs now gives Josh Allen that go-to receiver but a player like Diggs also should free up coverage on players like John Brown, Cole Beasley and Dawson Knox. This is why it makes sense for the Bills to send four draft picks to the Vikings for this caliber of player.

To determine if the Bills made a good deal, we compared compensation of trades that included top wide receivers over the past three years, along with the production of the players and their contracts at the time of the deal.

Custom Jason Croom Jersey Large

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills have re-signed tight end Jason Croom to a one-year contract, sources told ESPN’s Field Yates.

An exclusive-rights free agent, Croom missed the entire 2019 season with a hamstring injury. He caught 22 passes for 258 yards in 2018.

While his return was expected given his ERFA status, Croom’s signing gives Buffalo five tight ends on its 53-man roster, including 2019 draftees Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney, Lee Smith and the recently restructured Tyler Kroft.

Croom, 26, first signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2017, but didn’t record his first NFL snap until the following season.

Custom Duke Williams Jersey Large

Brandon Beane has done an outstanding job of addressing the Buffalo Bills’ biggest needs ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The team lost Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips in free agency, but the duo was replaced with Mario Addison, Quinton Jefferson and Vernon Butler.

Buffalo’s GM replaced the recently retired Lorenzo Alexander by signing A.J. Klein. Alexander’s presence on special teams was addressed by the additions of Taiwan Jones and Tyler Matakevich.

The No. 2 cornerback job will also be up for grabs between the likes of Levi Wallace, Josh Norman and E.J. Gaines.

And, of course, Beane’s biggest move was adding Stefon Diggs via trade.

Add it up and the Bills don’t have many glaring needs entering the 2020 draft. That will allow Beane and company to select the best players available on day two of the draft.

Following Matt Parrino’s list of 10 realistic targets for the Bills in Round 2, here is a look at 10 possible targets for the Bills at pick 86.

WIDE RECEIVER
Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool, South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards, Florida WR Van Jefferson

Despite adding Diggs, the Bills would be foolish not to select a wide receiver in the middle rounds of this year’s draft class.

In the third round, three targets for the Bills are Chase Claypool, Bryan Edwards and K.J. Hill.

Claypool is the most intriguing among the potential targets due to his size (6-feet-4-inches), speed (4.42 40-yard dash) and leaping ability (40.5 inch vertical). He also plays with physicality.

Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool really does have a near-circle spider chart pic.twitter.com/utEIWlgme2

— Tom Downey (@WhatGoingDowney) February 29, 2020
He would potentially replace Duke Williams and give Josh Allen another weapon at receiver.

South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards was not able to perform at the 2020 NFL Combine after suffering a broken foot during his training. Edwards’ injury could allow him to fall into Buffalo’s lap at pick 86. Much like Claypool, Edwards would bring additional size (6-feet-3-inches) and physicality to Buffalo’s offense. Edwards laid out his accolades with South Carolina.

Facts:

  • All Time Leader in Rec.
  • All Time Leaders in Rec Yards.
  • 2nd All time in Rec TD’s.
  • Most consecutive games w a catch.
  • Started 12 games as a 17yo True Freshmen.
  • Missed 3 Games in 4 years. pic.twitter.com/75te7XTSdv

— Bryan Edwards (@B__ED89) March 22, 2020
Florida’s Van Jefferson would be another interesting target based on the Bills’ current top-3 receivers. Much like Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley, Jefferson is an outstanding route runner.

Van Jefferson just took that poor DBs soul pic.twitter.com/wAsLF5nIaf

— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) November 24, 2018
In addition to his route running, Jefferson was reliable in terms of hauling in targets. He projects best as a slot receiver in the NFL and learn plenty from Beasley.

RUNNING BACK
Zack Moss, RB, Utah

Buffalo has not signed a running back to potentially pair with Devin Singletary. A signing could still occur, but the draft may be where the Bills find Singletary’s complement. In Round 3, one name ot watch is Utah’s Zack Moss.

Moss averaged six yards or more in the past two seasons while rushing for 26 touchdowns in 22 games. Whereas Singletary can make you miss in a phone booth, Moss is a violent runner.

Zack Moss looking like Marshawn Lynch 🚚

(via @Pac12Network)pic.twitter.com/Aa0uXQ1XtM

— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) September 7, 2019
Here’s how NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein describes the back.

“Watching Moss’ game tape is like watching an exercise in controlled violence on just about every carry, but his vision, balance, patience and wiggle are additional skills that help to make him a well-rounded runner. There is some wear and tear that could lend additional importance to his medicals and he may need to become more discerning with his physical challenges if he wants to see a second contract. He is a great fit for gap and inside zone-heavy rushing attacks and could become an effective, instant starter.”

OFFENSIVE TACKLE
Ben Bartch, OT, St. Johns

Buffalo may not need to select an offensive tackle with their first two picks. The team has Cody Ford, Ty Nsekhe and possibly Daryl Williams competing for the right tackle spot. Williams, of course, can play inside as well. That being said, Bartch looks like a potential day-two steal in this year’s draft class. Bartch moves very well for an offensive tackle and held his own at the Senior Bowl.

ESPN’s Louis Riddick is also a fan of Bartch’s game.

this young man is going to be gooood. His background story is exceptional and his natural skills are too obvious. OL coaches will be all this project..

— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) March 26, 2020
Buffalo would not have to rush Bartch onto the field in 2020, but he could end up being a long-term answer at tackle. Bartch is also well-known for his smoothie concoction.

Grits. Bananas. Peanut Butter. Scrambled eggs. Gatorade. This smoothie helped Ben Bartch gain 60 pounds at the NFL Combine 🥴

(via @thecheckdown)pic.twitter.com/yRZLCax6WJ

— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 1, 2020
TIGHT END
Washington TE Hunter Bryant

Buffalo has two young tight ends with promise in Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney, but if the Bills are looking to add another potential weapon, Hunter Bryant is an interesting option. Bryant is an athletic tight end that has drawn comparisons to Jordan Reed which is quite the compliment. Reed has looked like a top-5 tight end in the NFL at times, but injuries have hampered his NFL career.

Washington TE Hunter Bryant (currently TE1 on my draft board) finished last night with 5 catches for 90 yards.

His stat line would have been even better if this TD wasn’t wiped out due to a penalty. Good example of his athletic skill-set though. pic.twitter.com/xDD6z5ioox

— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) November 9, 2019
Here is how Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network describes Bryant’s game.

“Hunter Bryant should be a dynamic receiving threat at the NFL level. Bryant brings excellent quickness, run after catch skills and versatility to a flex tight end role. Plugging Bryant into a traditional inline role will water down his receiving skills — he’s best working off the LOS or as a flexed slot receiver who can serve as a H/W/S mismatch for opposing defenders. If Bryant it put in such a flex role, look for early production and long-term starter status in the pros. “

EDGE
Florida EDGE Jonathan Greenard

Darryl Johnson and Mike Love could be long-term options for the Bills at defensive end, but Jonathan Greenard is a potential third-round option for Buffalo.

Buffalo had a formal interview with Greenard at the 2020 NFL Combine. Although he could play linebacker, Greenard would best fit as a defensive end with the Bills. Greenard is coming off of a season in which he recorded 10 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. In terms of his ultimate upside, Greenard has drawn comparisons to Dante Fowler.

Jonathan Greenard laid the BOOM 💥 pic.twitter.com/lNwlOUAEFl

— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 1, 2019
CORNERBACK
Virginia CB Bryce Hall and Notre Dame CB Troy Pride Jr.

Bryce Hall and Troy Pride Jr. are two cornerback prospects that Bills fans should get familiar with before the 2020 draft.

Hall has been a mock draft favorite of mine. At one time, he was projected as a first-round pick in this year’s draft class. An ankle injury, unfortunately, ended his 2019 season prematurely. Talent-wise, Hall would be the ultimate steal at pick 86 as he fits perfectly into Sean McDermott’s zone defense.

Hall has been compared to James Bradberry, a cornerback that Sean McDermott played a role in drafting during his time with the Panthers.

Love the vision and initial burst here from Miami RB Travis Homer but check out this effort from Virginia CB Bryce Hall. Dude chases him down playing boundary corner on the opposite side of the field. Hall has been one of the most competitive football players I’ve seen this year. pic.twitter.com/AIwD3kcAfs

— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) October 14, 2018
Pride Jr. would be a terrific “consolation prize” if Hall were off the board. Much like Hall, Pride Jr. fits well into Buffalo’s zone defense. The Notre Dame cornerback ran a blazing 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine and is regarded for his high-football IQ.

Huge.

Troy Pride coming up BIG with the strip and recovery.

Let’s get 7. pic.twitter.com/qWO98nvvax

— ND Whiteboard (@ND_Whiteboard) November 25, 2018
SAFETY
Clemson S K’Von Wallace

If the Bills want to add some “big nickel” competition and miss out on Kyle Dugger in Round 2, the team could look at Clemson’s K’Von Wallace.

This is elite level defending by #Clemson safety K’von Wallace in the clutch pic.twitter.com/jj25j27HcI

— Kevin Boilard (@KevinBoilard) September 9, 2018
When Wallace was asked to blitz with the Tigers, he did very well. Wallace could fit right into Buffalo’s top-five defensive unit.

Custom Kaare Vedvik Jersey Large

Kaare Vedvik’s NFL career has been marked by preseason success and regular season disappointment. But that doesn’t matter since it was as a kicker. The Buffalo Bills signed Vedvik this offseason and clearly claimed he would be punting in Buffalo, not placekicking. Vedvik came in for a punting audition in December.

Vedvik clearly has the tools to be a successful punter in the NFL. In college, he averaged 44.0 yards per punt in his senior year, a number higher than current Bills punter Corey Bojorquez. Opponents didn’t have many return yards against him, either, and he uncorked a 92-yard punt to top it off. He averaged 55.5 yards on two punts with a long of 58 and a net of 48.0 in the 2019 preseason for the Baltimore Ravens.

The big-legged kicker could also handle kickoff duties, limiting the wear and tear on Stephen Hauschka, who turns 35 this offseason. He kicked off six times for Baltimore last preseason.

Another additional benefit to having Vedvik on the roster is the ability to try long-distance field goals at the end of the half or end of the game. Buffalo hasn’t been willing to trot out Hauschka for long field goals over the past year, but Vedvik and his stronger leg could be a consideration on attempts over 50 yards.

Make no mistake about it, Vedvik is a legitimate challenger to Bojorquez this offseason and the Bills could have their second homonym-based punting competition in two years. Last year it was Corey Bojorquez vs Cory Carter. This year, it’s Corey Bojorquez vs Kaare Vedvik.

Custom Steven Hauschka Jersey Large

Cole Beasley had his best game as a Buffalo Bill — and it came against his former team.

Beasley had 110 receiving yards and a touchdown to help the Bills beat the Dallas Cowboys 26-15 in an afternoon game on Thanksgiving.

Josh Allen connected with Beasley for the Bills’ first touchdown of the game. A trick play gave the Bills the lead late in the first half. Allen handed the ball off to Andre Roberts, who pitched it to John Brown. Brown threw it to a wide open Devin Singletary for a 28-yard touchdown.

Steven Hauschka, who missed an extra point and a field goal attempt, made two field goals in the second half. Allen ran for a touchdown to pad the Bills’ lead.

The Bills’ defense played exceptionally well against the Cowboys, which entered the game No. 1 in total offense. The Bills sacked Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott four times, forced two turnovers and contained explosive running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott had a 30-yard run early in the game, but was held to 41 rushing yards on his 11 other carries.

With the Turkey Day win, the Bills are 9-3 this season. The Cowboys fall to 6-6.

Here is the Buffalo Bills Week 13 report card:

OFFENSE
Quarterbacks

Josh Allen is getting a lot of love from the national NFL press after his performance against the Cowboys. He had 231 passing yards and a touchdown and added 43 rushing yards and a score. The fourth-down conversion on a quarterback sneak has been and will be replayed many times in the days and weeks to come. Allen fumbled the snap, but scooped up the ball and lunged forward for the first down. He took on defenders attempting to stuff his run, but he powered his way to a first down. This was a statement game by Allen. He’s a rising star in the NFL.

GRADE: A+

Running backs
The Cowboys had some success limiting the Bills’ rushing attack. Frank Gore, who is third on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, was held to 11 yards on nine carries. Devin Singletary had more success, with 63 rushing yards on 14 carries. But 26 of those yards came on one play. For the most part, Singletary was held in check. Singletary did help in the passing game with his 28-yard touchdown catch on the trick play. He finished with three catches for 38 yards. Gore chipped in with a 14-yard reception.

GRADE: B

Wide receivers/tight ends
It was a big day for Cole Beasley. After seven seasons with the Cowboys, Beasley burned his former team. He led the Bills with six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass for the Bills’ first score of the game. He made other plays throughout the game, including a reception on a great throw by Allen from the Bills’ end zone. John Brown had three catches for 26 yards, but showed off his arm on the touchdown pass to Singletary. Isaiah McKenzie added three catches for 34 yards.

GRADE: B+

Offensive line
The Bills’ offensive line is getting better as the season progresses, but there were some hiccups against the Cowboys. Josh Allen was sacked four times, but the line pass blocked pretty well for most of the game. The run blocking was average. The Bills had trouble getting the running game going. Overall, though, it was a solid performance by the offensive line. It’s certainly not bad when you consider they were operating on short rest going up against a good Cowboys defense.

GRADE: B-

DEFENSE
Defensive line
The Bills’ defensive front gave the Cowboys plenty of headaches. The Bills sacked Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott four times. Rookie Ed Oliver accounted for two of those sacks, including a strip sack that resulted in a fumble recovery by defensive end Trent Murphy. Oliver is getting better, too, as the season progresses. Murphy had a sack of his own later in the game. Shaq Lawson, who had two sacks in his last outing, split a sack with Jordan Phillips. Lawson had 2.5 tackles for a loss against the Cowboys. Phillips now has 7.5 sacks this season. Another player to highlight: Star Lotuleiei, who intercepted a screen pass and partially blocked a field goal attempt.

GRADE: A+

Linebackers
Another good game for the linebacking corps. Tremaine Edmunds continues to be a tackling machine with eight tackles (seven solo). Matt Milano was impactful against the run and pass, with four tackles (four solo) and two passes defensed. That 1-2 punch at linebacker for the Bills is tough for opposing offenses. They can stop the run and defend against the pass. Not much will get by either player.

GRADE: A

Defensive backs
It was an OK day for the secondary. The stat line is a bit misleading because Prescott was able to pad his stats in the fourth quarter. But the Bills’ defense did a great job against the Cowboys’ offense all day. Tre’Davious White, who shut down Courtland Sutton four days ago, didn’t have the same success against Amari Cooper. Cooper had eight catches for 85 yards in the loss. Taron Johnson did a good job as the Bills’ slot corner and was one of the team’s top tacklers with eight stops (six solo). The Micah Hyde-Jordan Poyer combo had good games against the Cowboys. Hyde was the Bills’ leading tackler with 10 tackles (six solo).

GRADE: B-

SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicking and punting

Kicking isn’t easy, but Steven Hauschka’s misses this season have to concern the Bills. Hauschka missed a 50-yard field goal — a kick he made with regularity in his first two years with the team. He also missed an extra point. However, he did make up for it with two successful point-after tries and he booted two field goals in the second half.

Punter Corey Bojorquez had a good game. He punted three times, averaged 42 yards per kick and pinned the Cowboys inside the 20 twice.

GRADE: A

Kick coverage and returns
Andre Roberts had limited opportunities to return kicks, but finished with two returns for 54 yards. His longest was a 32-yard kick return. He didn’t have any punt returns against the Cowboys.

The Bills’ kick coverage unit had a quiet day. The Cowboys didn’t return a single kick or punt.

GRADE: B

COACHING
Offense
A few questionable decisions aside, a great game plan by offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to put Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense in a position to win. The trick play was beautifully designed. There were some similarities to the Philly Special used in the Super Bowl. Daboll has been much better over the last few weeks.

GRADE: A-

Defense
The Cowboys scored twice: An early touchdown and a late touchdown. They were shut down for most of the game. Prescott did throw for 332 yards and the defense gave up some longer plays. But overall it was a good game plan against the Cowboys.

GRADE: A

GAME BALLS
Offensive player of the game 🏈
Josh Allen. Allen threw for 231 yards and ran for another 43. He had two total touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in the Bills’ win over the Cowboys.

Defensive player of the game 🏈
Ed Oliver. Oliver is getting more comfortable in the NFL. It showed on Thanksgiving. The Bills’ 2019 first-round pick had two sacks and a forced fumble. He didn’t make life easy for the Cowboys’ offensive line.

KEY STATS

  1. Cole Beasley’s total receiving yards against his former team. He nearly set a single-game career high and it was his first 100-yard game since Week 6 of the 2018 season.
  2. With a second consecutive four-sack game, the Bills have 15 in three games. Ed Oliver had a pair of sacks against the Cowboys. Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips teamed up on a sack. Trent Murphy added a sack.
  3. John Brown threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Devin Singletary. He is the first Bills non-quarterback to throw a touchdown since Fred Jackson in 2009.

NEXT GAME
The Bills (9-3) will play at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, against the Baltimore Ravens. The game will be televised on CBS.

Custom Josh Norman Jersey Large

The Buffalo Bills first free agency move this offseason was to sign cornerback Josh Norman to a one-year, $6 million deal. The contract raised some eyebrows across the NFL landscape due to Norman’s age (32) and his play with the Washington Redskins the past few seasons.

Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane justified the acquisition while talking to reporters on Thursday via video call. While slightly admitting there might be some understandable questions, Beane said Norman has a bit of a chip on his shoulder and that was appealing to the GM.

“We didn’t feel like the system he was in, in Washington, played to his strengths. We think he felts our scheme well. Knowing Josh, I don’t think he liked the way things went there this past season,” Beane said. “He’s a great young man, he plays with a chip on his shoulder, he’ll bring an edge to our defense and I think he’s got something to prove, that’s what we’re betting on here.

Obviously he’s got to go out and prove that he can still play at a level that we would deem acceptable.”

Norman has a connection to both Beane and head coach Sean McDermott, with the corner being a 2012 fifth-round selection during their time in Carolina. His best years came when McDermott was his defensive coordinator. In 2015, Norman rose to All-Pro status. While earning those honors, it ushered in his exit from the Panthers. In a strange twist rarely seen, Carolina franchise tagged him and when a long-term deal couldn’t be reached, the Panthers opted to remove the tag, making Norman a free agent. He went onto the Redskins where he started well, but his play in recent seasons fell off.

Because of that, the Bills will hope Norman may see a resurgence in his career under his old defensive coordinator. Given the likes of Levi Wallace and EJ Gaines, there’s extra competition to play opposite star cornerback Tre’Davious White. Buffalo’s No. 2 cornerback position will likely be up for grabs, But even with those others, the Bills might hope that helps Norman.

During his previous two stops in his career, Norman was relied upon as the top cornerback. With the Bills, that’s going to be White. Less pressure, more production? That’s Beane’s hope.

Custom Cam Lewis Jersey Large

E.J. Gaines is coming back to the Buffalo Bills. Again.

The Bills and Gaines have agreed to a deal that would bring him to Buffalo for his third stint with the club, the team announced on Thursday.

A familiar face is back in Buffalo!

The 28-year-old cornerback’s first stint with the Bills came after he was acquired in a trade that sent Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in August of 2017. That season saw Gaines start 11 games, where he picked up 59 combined tackles, nine passes defended, one interception, and three forced fumbles. He also missed five games due to injuries.

Gaines signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns the following offseason, then played in six games before being placed on season-ending injured reserve due to a concussion. In those six games in Cleveland in 2018, Gaines started twice, collecting 13 total tackles, three passes defended and an interception.

The Bills signed him again last offseason, this time as an unrestricted free agent. He began last training camp competing for a backup cornerback spot, lining up both outside and in the slot as the nickel corner. However, he injured his groin just over a week into training camp and was placed on injured reserve shortly after. He was released with an injury settlement two weeks later.

When healthy, Gaines is a terrific fit for Sean McDermott’s and Leslie Frazier’s defense. He’s very good in zone coverage, something the Bills play a lot of, understanding angles and help. He’s also an excellent tackler, which McDermott values immensely in his cornerbacks. They were a much better defense and overall team when he was actually on the field in 2017, which was McDermott and Frazier’s first year in Buffalo as coaches. Because he can play both inside and outside, his presence on the roster allowed the team to play more diverse coverages. In fact, the Bills were 8-3 in games Gaines started that year, but only 1-4 in games he didn’t.

That’s where the issue comes in.

Gaines has an extensive injury history, and not just with the Bills. After starting 15 games and having a very good rookie season in 2014 with the Rams, he missed all of 2015 due to a foot injury, then missed five games in 2016 with a thigh injury. He’s played a total of 43 out of a possible 96 games through five NFL seasons. He didn’t play a single play in 2015 or 2019, and has never played a full 16 games.

Gaines joins Tre’Davious White, Josh Norman, Levi Wallace, Taron Johnson, and Cam Lewis as cornerbacks currently on the roster. He’s expected to compete for a starting spot, whether outside, opposite White on the other side of the field, or inside against Taron Johnson, who’s started in the slot the past two years.

This is the play I always go to when thinking about EJ Gaines in Buffalo a couple years ago. What an awesome effort.
Before being acquired by Buffalo in 2017, Gaines had spent three seasons with the Rams after being taken in the sixth round pick (188th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft out of the University of Missouri.

Custom E.J. Gaines Jersey Large

The Buffalo Bills re-signed veteran cornerback E.J. Gaines last month. After being released by the team in August, Gaines never latched on with anyone else so it’s not surprising that his contract in 2020 is for the veteran minimum.

Spotrac was the first place we saw the numbers reported.

A year ago, Gaines signed with the Bills for $2.1 million but only earned $350,000 in signing bonus and offseason workout bonuses before being released from injured reserve. The season before, he made $4 million with the Cleveland Browns, so nabbing him at under $1 million for 2020 is a good deal for his talent. His price has dropped due to availability concerns. (Gaines has played in only six combined games over the last two years.)

Gaines receives $25,000 in a signing bonus—and that’s the only guaranteed money on the contract. He will earn $910,000 in salary but only count $775,000 against the salary cap due to the veteran minimum benefit designed to keep veteran players competitive in the marketplace. Because of the altered cap number, there is little benefit to cutting him for salary cap reasons alone.

It’s a no-brainer for the Bills to add Gaines, who could potentially play starter reps, at that price.

2020
Signing bonus: $25,000
Base salary: $910,000
Cap hit: $775,000
Dead cap if cut: $25,000

Custom Del’Shawn Phillips Jersey Large

The Buffalo Bills are hosting Miami linebacker Shaquille Quarterman on a private pre-draft visit, per Justin Melo of USA Today’s Draft Wire. Quarterman represents the first of 30 annual private visits the Bills are allowed to conduct as part of the NFL Draft process in 2020.

Quarterman has a trivia connection with the Bills: When he became Miami’s starting middle linebacker as a freshman, he became the first in that role since Dan Morgan, now Buffalo’s Director of Player Personnel. He never looked back from that point, starting 52 games over four seasons with the Hurricanes. Quarterman’s main calling card is his determination as a tackler—he notched 356 career tackles in four seasons, 46.5 of them behind the line of scrimmage. Quarterman also recorded 13 passes defended, an interception, and two forced fumbles in his college career.

As an NFL prospect, Quarterman doesn’t fit with every NFL team’s template. At 6’0” and 234 lbs, he’s a bit too small to play middle linebacker—though he could potentially work for the Bills, who had 6’1”, 230-lb Julian Stanford backing up Tremaine Edmunds last year. At the Combine, he ran 4.74 in the 40, had a 120” broad jump, a 31” vertical, and 23 bench-press reps; all solid numbers with NFL-caliber athleticism, but nothing exceptional.

The Bills have two locked-in starters at linebacker: Edmunds and Matt Milano (though Milano, in the final year of his rookie deal, needs a new contract soon). Though Lorenzo Alexander retired, the team has a few backups waiting in the wings already: Corey Thompson, Vosean Joseph, Tyrell Dodson, and Del’Shawn Phillips. But maybe the Bills want the leadership, experience, and effort that Quarterman brought to his Miami squad.

Custom Tyler Matakevich Jersey Large

If there’s one thing the start of the NFL’s free agency signing period has told us, it’s this: Not only do the Buffalo Bills believe they’re ready to win the AFC East, they think they can win a playoff game, or two, or even three.

As ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said on NFL Live Wednesday, “This is their time; they need to strike.”

And they are.

With Tom Brady leaving the division, leaving the AFC for that matter to play for Tampa Bay, the Bills are being eye-balled at this very early stage of the offseason as the team that might finally break New England’s stranglehold on the AFC East.

Former Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman talked with Bills quarterback Josh Allen following last season’s game at New Era Field.
Former Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman talked with Bills quarterback Josh Allen following last season’s game at New Era Field. (Photo: Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

The Patriots still have the best coach in NFL history, but Bill Belichick has lost Brady and a number of other key contributors, and they’re in a salary cap pinch so it will be tough for New England to retool. This is as vulnerable as the Patriots have been since Belichick’s first season in 2000.

The Jets don’t have as much talent as the Bills and are a step behind in their rebuild. And the Dolphins are certainly spending a lot of money in free agency, but they aren’t ready to compete for the division title just yet.

The window of opportunity is wide open for the Bills, and with quarterback Josh Allen still on his rookie contract for two more years, general manager Brandon Beane is taking full advantage of the roster maneuverability that allows.

He is utilizing the salary cap space he created with the purge of 2018 to surround Allen with weapons on offense, plus give him a strong, complementary defense to bail him out on days when things don’t go well, a formula that led to 10 wins and a playoff berth in 2019.

These are heady times for this oft-tortured franchise that for so long was nothing more than a pretender to the throne on which the Patriots sat for nearly two decades.

As the official start of the league year kicked off at 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Bills added eight players via free agency and trade, all of whom could play significant roles in the upcoming season.

The biggest move was acquiring star wide receiver Stefon Diggs in a trade from Minnesota for a package of draft picks that included their first-rounder in April. They also brought in cornerback Josh Norman, defensive linemen Mario Addison, Quinton Jefferson and Vernon Butler, linebackers A.J. Klein and Tyler Matakevich, and running back Taiwan Jones.

Plus, they started working on retaining their own players by giving safety Jordan Poyer a two-year extension on his contract.

And with around $30 million in salary cap space still at their disposal, the Bills may not be done, but for now, here’s a look at how these early moves might impact the roster.

Offense: New weapons will help Josh Allen
Stefon Diggs averaged 17.9 yards per reception last season for the Vikings.
Stefon Diggs averaged 17.9 yards per reception last season for the Vikings. (Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

The addition of Diggs vastly upgrades the passing game and finally gives Allen a fully-stocked arsenal. Now the Bills have a game-breaker on the outside in Diggs, a speedy, efficient route runner in John Brown, and a slippery slot man in Cole Beasley.

It’s a trio that has the potential to be as good as any in the NFL, provided the sometimes scatter-armed Allen can get them the ball.

Factor in the development of promising tight end Dawson Knox and possibly a bounce-back year from tight end Tyler Kroft, plus the running of Devin Singletary behind an offensive line that returns all five starters intact and the Bills may finally score points like it’s 2020 and not 1920.

“I think it’s important that we continue to add pieces on the offensive side of the board and adding playmakers is important,” coach Sean McDermott said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

General manager Brandon Beane pre-dated McDermott with a comment made at the Senior Bowl. “Offensively we did show some improvements statistically,” he said, comparing 2019 to 2018. “We scored more points, but at the end of the day we didn’t score enough points.”

With Diggs and Brown on the outside, defenses will have to make some tough choices. If they choose to double both, there will be ample one-on-one opportunities across the board for Beasley and Knox to work underneath. Further, if a safety isn’t coming down into the box, that should create some space in the running game for Singletary.

If defenses double one outside target, the other should be able to win on his route. This is a luxury the Bills have not had in recent memory because teams simply doubled their best receiver — Brown last season — on the majority of the pass plays and that was often enough to handcuff Allen.

Defense: Pass rush is a priority
Defensive end Mario Addison (97) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, one of the 9.5 he made in 2019.
Defensive end Mario Addison (97) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, one of the 9.5 he made in 2019. (Photo: Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bills lost end Shaq Lawson and tackle Jordan Phillips to Miami and Arizona, respectively. While neither is considered a premier pass rusher, in 2019 they combined for 16 of Buffalo’s middle-of-the-pack 44 sacks.

Beane knew he had to address that and Addison, who he and McDermott know well from Carolina, will fill the void left by Lawson. Addison has 29.5 sacks the past three seasons; Lawson and Jerry Hughes combined for 30 in that period.

Ed Oliver, last year’s first-round pick, is the heir apparent to Phillips at three-technique tackle, and after a five-sack rookie season, expectations are soaring that he can improve on that.

With those two holes plugged, Beane upgraded the depth by signing Jefferson and Butler. Jefferson is a player who, during his four seasons with the Seahawks was able to line up in a variety of spots in the front seven, so McDermott and Leslie Frazier will surely take advantage of that coveted versatility.

Butler, another ex-Panther, is a 330-pound space eater in the middle who will be part of a rotation with Oliver, Star Lotulelei and Harrison Phillips.

If everything fits together, the Bills should be able to generate pressure with their four-man rush which is what McDermott and Frazier prefer, and they should certainly be more stout against the run. Last year, while the Bills were 10th in the NFL in rush yards allowed, they were a less effective 18th in yards per attempt.

Klein fills another hole as he projects as the replacement for retired Lorenzo Alexander. He’ll be the weakside linebacker in the 4-3 base, then probably come off the field in passing situations, though he has shown the ability to drop in coverage and rush off the edge when needed.

Norman, a former star in decline, may be reborn with the Bills now that he’s reuniting with McDermott and his zone-based defense. He could beat out Levi Wallace for the starting job, or fill the role Kevin Johnson played last year, assuming Johnson signs elsewhere, as expected.

Special teams: New players have experience
Tyler Matakevich (44) has been one of the best special teams players in the NFL the past couple seasons.
Tyler Matakevich (44) has been one of the best special teams players in the NFL the past couple seasons. (Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

Alexander was a core special teamer, as were free agents Julian Stanford, Kurt Coleman, Senorise Perry, Dean Marlowe and Maurice Alexander.

The Bills could lose some or all of those players, so they had to start seeking replacements and Klein, Matakevich and Jones fit the bill. Matakevich, in particular, has been a special teams stud for the Steelers and last year ranked second in the NFL with 13 kicking game tackles.

Jones returns to Buffalo after playing for Houston last season and making the play that ultimately handed the Texans their playoff victory when he caught a short DeShaun Watson in overtime and sped 34 yards to set up the game-winning field goal.