New England Patriots: Eye on the AFC East — Buffalo Bills
By Hal Bent
2019 THREAT LEVEL:
The Bills are solid on one side of the football (defense) and a mild disaster on the other.
Buffalo has some extra mid-round draft picks and the ninth overall selection in the first round. The large amount of salary cap capital also allows the Bills to be major players in free agency, and upgrade the talent around quarterback Josh Allen.
The Bills could try and fill their hole in the middle of the defensive line by targeting Baltimore’s underrated Michael Pierce or Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett. Slot cornerback is a need in 2019 (they should have held onto Nickell Robey-Coleman), but the Bears’ Bryce Callahan would be a great fit in Buffalo if his broken foot is fully healed.
On offense, the Bills should look to Pittsburgh to look to add instant offense with Le’Veon Bell, and/or trading for Antonio Brown if he is available. Either one of them would take a ton of pressure off Allen to be the engine for the offense.
LeSean McCoy is still technically under contract, but would not be too costly to move on from in 2019. At wide receiver, veterans Randall Cobb, Golden Tate, or Mike Wallace are the cream of the free agency crop, and any of them would represent an upgrade over the Bills’ current receiving corps.
The offensive line can be rebuilt via the draft and free agency. On the interior, there are veteran options such as Matt Paradis (Denver), Mike Iupati (Arizona), and Andy Levitre (Atlanta). The tackle position in free agency is thin as usual, although replacing Jordan Mills with Miami’s Ja’Wuan James could help Buffalo while weakening a division rival at the same time.
The Bills seem to have the quarterback position figured out long-term, which is a huge first step. Upgrading around Allen is going to have to happen quickly. The defense is in strong shape currently with a mix of veterans and young players, and could be a force to be reckoned with in 2019 with some minor tweaking. Now it’s the offense’s turn to step up and complement them.
The Bills are certainly pointed in the right direction, and may be just a year or two away from truly contending in the AFC East.