After a 9-7 season and a playoff appearance, the Buffalo Bills have been busy in the free agency market in 2018. The Bills were eliminated from the 2018 playoffs after a 10-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the wild card round. Getting back to the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season was the goal for Buffalo. However, after reaching that goal they are not satisfied with just making the playoffs. They have made several moves this offseason to put them in a better position to go deeper in the postseason.
Buffalo Bills Free Agency Grades
Quarterback, AJ McCarron: B+
The Bills have signed the former Cincinnati Bengals QB to two year, $10 million deal. McCarron spent the last four season with the Bengals. After trading their 2017 starter Tyrod Taylor, the Bills needed a capable placeholder to handle the offense until another QB is ready to take over the offense. Rumors are saying that Buffalo is looking to trade up in the draft to pick a quarterback in this QB heavy draft class.
This would be a big boost for the Bills. McCarron would most likely start the 2018 season and the potential rookie would take over once the coaching staff feels ready. Either way, this signing for the Bills is a very solid move. This avoids Nathan Peterman having to start for the Bills after his more than shaky performance last season. Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half against the San Diego Chargers last year.
Running Back, Chris Ivory: C+
Buffalo has one of the better running backs in the league with LeSean McCoy. However, they need a backup that can give McCoy rest and still be productive. Mike Tolbert was the backup RB last season and was not the answer they needed. Ivory signed a two year, $5.5 million contract with Buffalo. Ivory has had one 1,000-yard season with the Jets in 2015 with seven TD’s, his best season of his career.
One problem, despite him being 30, is his ability to take care of the football. In his last two seasons with the Jaguars, Ivory fumbled seven times, four of them turnovers. He was in a backup role in Jacksonville then as he will be with Buffalo. However, he has shown he is a capable RB in his career.
Defensive Tackle, Star Lotulelei: D
Lotulelei has spent his five NFL seasons with the Panthers before signing with Buffalo this offseason. The deal is five years for $50 million, making him the highest paid player on the team.
Needless to say, Lotulelei is being overpaid. The defensive tackle only had 1.5 sacks last year to go with his 25 total tackles. Of those 25 tackles, only six were solo tackles. It seems that the Bills paid a lot of money for a DT who will not drastically change their defensive efficiency.
Defensive End, Trent Murphy: A-
The Bills struggled with the pass rushing portion of their defense in 2017. Buffalo has improved that aspect in this offseason after signing Murphy. The deal is a three year, $21 million contract. Murphy played three seasons with the Washington Redskins. He missed all of 2017 after tearing his ACL in the preseason. His best season came in 2016. He recorded nine sacks along with three forced fumbles. Murphy was healthy and played all 16 games but did not start any. He will most likely be a starting DE on this Buffalo roster.
Cornerback, Vontae Davis: C
The Bills signed Davis to a one-year deal with a $2.25 million base salary. This is a risky signing for the Bills because Davis suffered a core injury in 2017. This injury held him to only playing five games last season.
He hasn’t played a full season since 2015 with the Colts, in which he had four interceptions. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2014 and 2015 but has not seemed to be the same since. The Bills are hoping he can return to form and stay healthy. Davis seems to be replacing CB E.J. Gaines who is younger than Davis.
Despite losing their starting QB in 2017, the Bills have improved. Signing two capable plaers in McCarron and Ivory will only help the offense. They may have overpaid Lotulelei and gambled signing Davis for a season. However, bringing in a solid pass rusher like Murphy will really upgrade the defensive side of the ball. Davis and Lotulelei could end up being very solid players for the Bills as well. This offseason has been a success so far for the Buffalo Bills.