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The Buffalo Bills are in a strong position ahead of the Tuesday, Nov. 2 trade deadline sandwiched between Weeks 8 and 9. Over the next few days, we’ll hear of about a hundred different trade scenarios involving the Herd.
Since the Bills are in first place of the AFC East, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they decided to push their chips all-in with an effort toward becoming the unquestioned favorite to come out of the AFC conference.
With teams like the Kansas City Chiefs falling by the wayside, maybe this is the year the Bills can emerge from the Conference Championship game as winners, heading to the Super Bowl for the fifth time in franchise history.
Each year as the deadline approaches, we see teams become either buyers or sellers. The Bills are definitely buyers this time around.
Sometimes elite players can be had for a bargain price, such as the recent Stephon Gilmore trade sending him home to Carolina. Or, as many Bills Fans dreamed of over the offseason, Zach Ertz, before getting dealt to the Arizona Cardinals.
So, are there any players who could step in and contribute to this winning season for the Bills? You bet there are.
Here are five positions we’ve identified ahead of the deadline. Brandon Beane will undoubtedly be as busy as ever over these next few days.
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1. Buffalo Bills trade for bellcow back
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has done a better job dialing up running plays, mixing in Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. And credit to both players for coming into the year in great shape, but they still don’t strike fear in anyone.
The Bills just saw how impactful an elite running back could be when facing off with Derrick Henry. We don’t have anyone close to that in Buffalo.
It’s hard to say the Bills have taken a flawed approach in search of an alpha dog. They’ve consistently invested draft capital and even dipped their toes into the free agency pool with the signing of Matt Breida this offseason. For now, it’s been effective, but are there other backs who could improve the Buffalo backfield?
Which running backs can the Bills acquire?
Let’s get a bit crazy, shall we?
What if the New York Giants wanted to blow things up and trade Saquon Barkley? Barkley has yet to be signed to a long-term extension, and the Giants haven’t been forthcoming about paying him big bucks.
Nearly every team in the league without a lead back should be placing a call to Giants GM Dave Gettleman, but it would be a shock if SaQuads were traded.
How about Miles Sanders from Philadelphia? Sanders has more speed than Singletary or Moss and has proven more than capable of catching passes out of the backfield. In my opinion, Sanders offers a higher ceiling than who the Bills currently have.
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2. Adding depth to the Buffalo Bills tight end room
Dawson Knox has taken that leap forward we have all been waiting for. Despite his brilliance, he’s broken a bone in his hand and will miss at least the next two weeks. Tommy Sweeney and Reggie Gilliam will do their best, but maybe the game against Miami will reveal a lack of tight end depth. This could lead to a small move ahead of the trade deadline.
Which tight ends could the Bills trade for?
David Njoku was once seen as an up-and-coming star. In 2017, the Browns selected Njoku 29th overall in the first round of the draft. Since then, the 25-year old’s best season came in his sophomore year, racking up 639 receiving yards and four touchdowns. But he’s fallen out of favor, starting just 11 games since.
While he came into the league seen as a receiving threat, he has also improved his blocking the past few seasons, making him a great No. 2 tight end option in any offense, which could make him tougher to acquire.
Eric Ebron has the athletic profile to be considered a freak tight end, though he’s never quite lived up to his draft position after being selected tenth overall in 2014. Now on his third team in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have young stud Pat Freiermuth, who’s begun stealing his targets and starts. If the Steelers implode, trading Ebron would make a lot of sense.
In Indianapolis, they have two tight ends that could be considered available. Veteran Jack Doyle and former basketball player Mo Alie-Cox would bring something different to the tables in Buffalo.
Doyle is a two-time Pro Bowl tight end who’s not a large part of the Colts offense anymore. He has reliable hands and comes with experience as a nine-year pro.
I’m more excited about the prospect of adding Mo Alie-Cox to the lineup. His background playing ball in college at VCU helps Alie-Cox do what many other converted basketball players have done as tight ends in the NFL.
He uses his big frame to box out defenders, jumping high in the air to make impressive catches in traffic. The undrafted free agent also has some speed. Pair him with Knox and watch linebackers struggle to keep up.
Five-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham has sure hands and is a massive body who can throw some blocks. With just one reception this season, Graham has been nearly forgotten in the Chicago offense. He also doesn’t appear to be happy with the incompetence of the Bears.
There’s no telling how much the 35-year old Graham has left in the tank, but he did tally 456 yards and eight touchdowns last season, catching passes from the now-Buffalo backup QB Mitchell Trubisky. That connection could be his ticket to town.
The Atlanta Falcons acquired Hayden Hurst with the hopes of him becoming Matt Ryan’s security blanket. While he did well in his one season as a starter, compiling 571 receiving yards and six touchdowns, now super freak Kyle Pitts has taken over. Hurst is set for unrestricted free agency at the end of this season but could probably be had now for a late-round draft pick.
Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard have both been phased out since Rob Gronkowski entered the picture. Yet both veterans have proven to be starting-caliber tight ends in the past. Tampa Bay has a deep group of receivers. Maybe they’d be willing to let one of their backup tight ends go to improve their secondary depth.
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3. Reinforcing the depth of the Buffalo Bills offensive line
The Buffalo Bills have done a decent job of protecting Josh Allen this season. Then again, maybe it’s been Allen who’s been protecting himself.
Before last week’s action, the Bills were one of seven NFL teams who have allowed 100 or more pressures through six games. The Bills were the only one of those seven not to have allowed eight or more sacks. With that, Buffalo’s offensive line has a pass-blocking grade of 53.8 per Pro Football Focus, which is terrible.
Buffalo offensive line grades in 2021 per PFF
LT - Dion Dawkins - 63.6
LG - Jon Feliciano - 61.9
C - Mitch Morse - 64.3
RG - Darryl Williams - 60.7
RT - Spencer Brown - 59.9
While the Bills could likely upgrade at all five spots along the line, Dawkins and Morse have been decent and are probably fixtures in the starting lineup. Beane just selected Brown in April, so he’s likely safe too. That leaves the guard positions.
Darryl Williams has proven to be versatile at guard and tackle and is a valuable piece; however he fits with the team.
Which offensive linemen could the Bills trade for?
With Russell Wilson out for a few weeks, maybe eight-year pro Gabe Jackson could be acquired from Seattle. Jackson hasn’t missed a snap this season and has yet to give up a sack, scoring at 65.8 with PFF.
Underrated on a stinker of a squad in Jacksonville, guard Andrew Norwell made the All-Pro team back in 2017, playing on the same line with Darryl Williams in Carolina. For his sake, Norwell’s graded decently this season at 67.9.
Another swiss-army knife akin to Williams is Washington’s Ereck Flowers. He plays guard now, but he came into the league playing right tackle. This season he’s graded with PFF at 70.4 with just one sack allowed and zero penalties committed. With Washington not playing nearly as well as expected, Flowers could be available.
If Beane wanted to swing for the fences (why not), they should inquire about the four-time Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff. But there’s no guarantee he’s on the table.
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4. Improving the Buffalo Bills up the middle
The Bills have plenty of defensive end depth, but not so much at defensive tackle. There’s also been some inconsistency when rushing the passer, and having a stronger interior rotation could be a solution.
In Chicago, they have two strong interior linemen who have wreaked havoc for several seasons. Akiem Hicks has proven more than capable of stopping the run and getting after quarterbacks in his 11 seasons in the league. If he’s not available, maybe Eddie Goldman is.
Since making the Pro Bowl in his second season, Sheldon Richardson hasn’t had the same impact. One area he’s proven to be consistent is creating pressures. As a rotational rusher, Richardson wouldn’t be a bad pickup.
As we mentioned, Washington hasn’t been the team they imagined this season. Their defensive line is deep and talented. Maybe they’d consider parting with either Tim Settle or Matt Ioannidis if the right offer came along.
Both players are grading at 72.5 or better with PFF, yet neither players start for their team. Settle only plays 20% of his snaps and would undoubtedly welcome a more significant opportunity with a winning squad elsewhere.
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5. Buffalo Bills add another cornerback to fuel defensive effort
The Buffalo Bills have a solid secondary. However, you can never have enough cornerbacks, so adding another shouldn’t be entirely ruled out.
Lately, Kyle Fuller’s name is in the news since he’s essentially been relegated to the bench and has shown elite skills in the past. He’d look good competing for an outside corner role in Buffalo.
Thinking outside the box a bit, James Bradberry and the New York Giants have struggled this season. Perhaps a change of scenery would do the 2020 Pro Bowl corner well. There’s also the fact that Sean McDermott was his defensive coordinator with Carolina in 2016.
Darius Slay has only played in two playoff games in his nine-year career. Wouldn’t he welcome a chance to win a Super Bowl with the Rumbling Herd?
Carolina recently acquired Stephon Gilmore when their first-round pick Jaycee Horn went down for the year with a broken foot. That was when Carolina was 3-0. Since then, the Panthers have lost four straight. Realizing they are not the contenders they once dreamed of, A.J. Bouye could be on the move.
We’ll see whether Brandon Beane makes any moves, but I’d expect some sort of small trade to help get this Rumbling Herd across the finish line. If not, they have a lot of top-end talent to get the job done. Still, it’s always fun to speculate. Thanks for reading, even if it was way too long.
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