I've already addressed this in my previous posts. Honestly though, I'm having second thoughts about the Kevin Kolb trade. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether I think he can play or not. It has to do with his contract. Yes, he only has one year left on his current deal (It could be two if a new CBA isn't reached). However, a trade could result in me having to give Kolb a deal similar to what Matt Schaub got when he was traded to the Texans. We are talking 6-years for 48 million dollars.
That has me a little nervous and I'm sure Ralph Wilson wouldn't be thrilled with it either. If there's a way to just let him play out his original contract and see what he does as a starter, then I'd be cool with the trade. However, giving him all that money for only starting two games does scare me a little. Now if the deal falls through, I'm going all out for Chad Pennington. We all know what Chad's positives and negatives are.
Now, I'm trying to figure out what to pay him. When he was cut from the Jets two years ago, he received a 2-year, 11.5 million dollar deal from the Dolphins. Sorry, but there's no way he's getting that from me or anyone else in the NFL. However, he did say he was willing to take a back-up job, which must mean he's not really looking for those type of dollars. I think giving him a strong incentive laden deal with a low base salary that's back loaded would work. Remember, he's just keeping the seat warm for the quarterback that I'll be drafting in April.
Bills sign Chad Pennington to a 2-year contract worth 4 million dollars (with incentives).
With Marshawn Lynch now gone from the team, you may be thinking that I'm going to just rely on Fred Jackson carrying the running back load. That's not the case. Don't get me wrong, I like Jackson, but I'm not sure he can be the guy who can carry the ball 20-25 times a game over a 16-game schedule.
I think Jackson would be more effective if his back-up could touch the ball 10-12 times a game. I'm talking running and receiving. I spoke often last year that my biggest gripe with having Jackson and Lynch splitting carries was that they were too similar in style. Jackson is a pretty diverse back, but he's not the type to run you over or blaze a trail up field. I want to be able to find a back that can do one of the two.
Enter Darren Sproles or Chester Taylor
OK, try and follow me here. Chester Taylor would be my pick if I end up giving Kevin Kolb a new deal. Taylor would cost considerably less than what Darren Sproles would get. Unfortunately for Taylor, he's pushing 30. As for his skills, Taylor is exceptionally quick and can catch the ball well out of the backfield. He also doesn't have that much ware and tear on his body because of playing behind Adrian Peterson for the last three years. Taylor's original free agent deal with the Vikings was for 4 years at 14.1 million dollars. He's not going to get three plus million a year because of his age.
Bills sign Chester Taylor to a 2-year contract worth 5 million dollars.
As for Darren Sproles, that boy can fly! Recently the Chargers have said that they plan on letting Sproles test the market, which is fine by me. I know he didn't exactly reach his expectations last year after a really good showing towards the end of 2008. However, I think a lot of it had to do with the Chargers not being as committed to the run. Sproles has almost the exact same traits as Chester Taylor, except he's younger. He's also a pretty good returner and since Parrish is gone, he'd fit right in on special teams. More importantly, the Bills will have a diverse running back combination that could cause multiple match-up problems in the passing game.
Bills sign Darren Sproles to a 4-year contract worth 18 million dollars.
If there's one thing that I've always despised about the Bills organization, it's how they have never cared about the tight end position. When your best tight end of all time is Pete Metzelaars, you have issues. I don't care how great Pete was at blocking, the dude use to catch a 5-yard pass and drop to his knees quicker than Tiger's mistresses. Since Pete retired, it has been nothing short of a revolving door at the position. Have you ever taken a look at the list of tight ends? Lonnie Johnson, Jay Riemersma, Mark Campbell, Robert Royal and the Derek boys (Fine and Schouman). It's not a pretty list.
Mark Gaughan had a great article during the season about how tight ends have become a pivotal position in the NFL passing game. Teams are using their tight ends more than ever. I'll be frank, I'm not looking for a guy who can block. I'm looking for someone who can stretch the field and be a player that the opposition has to game plan for.
Enter Benjamin Watson
Watson is a freak. He's got exceptional speed for a guy that's 6'3, 255lbs. In his third year with the Patriots, he became one of Tom Brady's favorite targets; catching 49 passes for 643 yards and three touchdowns in just 13 games. However, when Moss and Welker came along, the Patriots decided to forget about using the tight end spot and primarily went to their 1-2 punch at wide. Even though Watson's catches have dropped, he's still one of Brady's favorite targets in the redzone; catching 13 touchdown passes over the last 3 years. I think Watson could thrive in an offense that has a knack for using the tight end position.
I could have gone else where in free agency for a tight end. Owen Daniels and Tony Scheffler aren't bad, but I think bringing in an Ex-Patriot is a key factor. Anyone who has ever left the Patriots wants to show them up in the worst way. It's either you respect Belichick or you wouldn't pi$$ on him if he was on fire. Playing the Patriots twice a year would only fuel Watson's motivation to get the best of Belichick for years of under-utilizing his talents. Plus, I wouldn't mind getting an Ex-Patriot who could maybe give inside information about Brady and company.
Now the knock on Watson is that he's not a good blocker. So with him and Shawn Nelson on the depth chart, I would be sure to pick up a blocking tight end late in the draft...just so I could follow the tradition of Metzelaars.
Bills sign Benjamin Watson to a 4-year contract worth 16 million dollars.
We all know that the Bills offensive line has had issues since the dawn of time. You thought our tight end list was weak, just go through some of the names that have started on the offensive line over the last 15 years. The Bills line was a disaster last season due to the loss of Jason Peters, inexperience and injuries.
As your GM, I firmly believe that building the offensive line is the number one priority for any football team that's in the process of rebuilding. The cliche of "It all starts up front" wasn't just coined by some offensive line coach. It was coined because it's nothing more than the truth. Good offensive line play can lead to bigger running lanes, your quarterback staying upright, and your receivers getting an extra second or two to get open.
I don't really have to worry about the interior of the line. Geoff Hangartner, Andy Levitre and Eric Wood are guys that could play the inside for the next 5 to 8 years. Even with the probability of Eric Wood starting the season on IR, I don't mind having Richie Incognito start for him.
As for the tackles...Um, that's a different story. The retirement of Brad Butler was big blow for the Bills. Right now, I have only Demetrius Bell and Jonathan Scott on the depth chart. Without question, I'm going to have to add a couple of tackles...but it wont be in free agency.
The biggest problem with the free agent class is that the tackles are either in their mid 30's or restricted free agents. Offensive lineman that hit free agency tend to gain the most money of any position in the open market. I don't want to overpay for a tackle whose past his prime. More than likely, I'll pick up a second tier lineman who can play guard or tackle and use him for depth. No worries, Bills fans. I'll be sure to address the tackle situation in the NFL Draft.
OK, this is going to be the spot where most of you will be in total disagreement with me. I will admit that I'm in total desperation for some wideouts. I traded Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish, and only James Hardy and Stevie Johnson remain. However, I firmly believe that you really don't need a big named wide receiver to win in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints didn't have an all-world receiving core. When the New England Patriots were winning championships, Tom Brady was throwing the ball to Deion Branch and David Patten. Even two years ago, Chad Pennington was able to pass for over 3,500 yards with Ted Ginn Jr. as his number one wide receiver.
As for the free agent receiver class, there's a lot of players available. Except they are restricted, and will cost you at least a first rounder. As for the unrestricted free agents, I'm not exactly being blown away. Antonio Bryant has injury concerns and would draw at least 4-5 million dollars a year. I also don't exactly care for his attitude. I like Derek Mason and think he would fit in as a stop-gap for the younger wide receivers on the team. But, he'd probably cost 4-5 million a year as well. Even still, I think going for a veteran is something I want to do in this situation.
Enter Chris Chambers (Insert cricket sounds)
Look, I know some of you are thinking that I'm nuts, but Chambers played pretty well down the stretch in Kansas City last year. After getting cut by the Chargers, the former 1st round pick gained over 600 yards and scored 4 touchdowns in his last nine games. Prior to playing for the Chiefs, Chambers lost his way in San Diego, primarily because he was the 3rd option on the team. At one point in Chambers career, he was considered a top 10 wide receiver in the NFL.
I think this would be a bargain for the Bills because they can sign him to just a 1-year deal. Chambers would be more than motivated to do his very best so he could get a long term deal the following year. It's kind of like what Randy Moss did when he joined the Patriots. Chambers also has the Chan Gailey connection going for him with their days in Miami. Now, I do plan on adding another receiver early in the draft.
I know some people aren't high on James Hardy, but he was a second round investment and deserves a shot at being a number two guy. I just want to be able to develop young receivers. Look at what the Eagles have done with guys like DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant. Miles Austin became a fantasy stud this year after playing on the practice squad for a couple of years. Drew Brees was throwing the ball to guys named Henderson and Meachem. The Bills biggest problems over the years have been their constant love for bringing in high priced wide receivers. How many playoff games did Eric Moulds, Lee Evans and Terrell Owens win for them? None. It's time to look at other positions to invest our time and money.
Bills sign Chris Chambers to a 1-year contract worth 2 million dollars.
Here's a quick recap of my signings (Because the article was longer than the Bible) and let me know what you think?
1)Bills trade their 3rd round pick for the rights to Marcus Spears.
2)Bills sign Larry Foote to a 3-year contract.
3)Bills sign Chad Pennington to a 2-year contract (Pending Kolb deal).
4)Bills sign Chester Taylor or Darren Sproles.
5)Bills sign Benjamin Watson to a 4-year contract.
6)Bills sign Chris Chambers to a 1-year contract.
Coming up Next: The Draft