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[As we move through the off-season, We thought it might be good to have threads dedicated to position groupings so as to better keep track of what is going on with each. As always, you are free to start your own thread on any subject. We just ask that if you do, cross post it to the respective [positional grouping] thread for ease of reference by others.]

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We need an edge rushing disruptor and a stout middle linebacker because Milano is packing his bags and loading up the moving van, and Edmunds is still reacting to the opening series of the second half of the AFCCG. 

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On 2/1/2021 at 4:06 PM, Koko said:

They need Star to come back and eat up space in the interior, or draft/sign someone to do the job for him if he opts out again.

Star isn't going anywhere in '21 given his contract and no viable replacement.   Ed should be a monster next year next to Star.

 

Good news is that other than Star there's not a single player who will hurt the cap by ditching.  Bad news is that unlike the OL, there are far more questions about the DL with the youngsters

Edited by GG1
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TakeYouToTasker 2.0
On 2/1/2021 at 4:06 PM, Koko said:

They need Star to come back and eat up space in the interior, or draft/sign someone to do the job for him if he opts out again.

 

6 hours ago, GG1 said:

Star isn't going anywhere in '21 given his contract and no viable replacement.   Ed should be a monster next year next to Star.

 

Good news is that other than Star there's not a single player who will hurt the cap by ditching.  Bad news is that unlike the OL, there are far more questions about the DL with the youngsters


I am *extremely* wary of what players who spent a year away from the game are going to present in 2022.

 

Especially 350 lb wide bodies who are 31 years old.

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Deranged Rhino

This group will be interesting to watch in terms of how the front office handles it. They’ve invested a ton of money in the line, creating it in their image (minus Star), but the results weren’t there. Most of the deals they can get away from — but that would be an admission they made an error in their philosophy. I think they are big enough to do that (in terms of McBean), but who knows if they will.

 

Regardless, finding a consistent/star pass rusher is for me the #1 need overall for me. Hughes is going to hit a wall sooner or later, and outside of him there hasn’t been anyone offering consistent pressure. By hook or crook, this is a spot that they need to address imo. 

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8 hours ago, TakeYouToTasker 2.0 said:

 


I am *extremely* wary of what players who spent a year away from the game are going to present in 2022.

 

Especially 350 lb wide bodies who are 31 years old.

 

And especially if there’s no offseason workouts or training camps. 

 

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10 hours ago, TakeYouToTasker 2.0 said:

I am *extremely* wary of what players who spent a year away from the game are going to present in 2022.

 

Especially 350 lb wide bodies who are 31 years old.

 

That's the interesting thing. If Star kept himself in shape, his body got a full year of rest and should come back and be able to perform. I would presume that the Bills S&C staff provided him with a recommended workout/nutrition program.

 

If he didn't keep himself in shape, he has no real place in the NFL and should retire.

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11 hours ago, Deranged Rhino said:

This group will be interesting to watch in terms of how the front office handles it. They’ve invested a ton of money in the line, creating it in their image (minus Star), but the results weren’t there. Most of the deals they can get away from — but that would be an admission they made an error in their philosophy. I think they are big enough to do that (in terms of McBean), but who knows if they will.

 

Regardless, finding a consistent/star pass rusher is for me the #1 need overall for me. Hughes is going to hit a wall sooner or later, and outside of him there hasn’t been anyone offering consistent pressure. By hook or crook, this is a spot that they need to address imo. 

 

If you read between the lines of McDermott's and Beane's post season PCs, they were unhappy with how DL & OL played in the end, and I don't think they'll shy away from making changes.

Edited by GG1
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Deranged Rhino
Just now, GG1 said:

 

If you read between the lines of McDermott's and Bane's post season PCs, they were unhappy with how DL & OL played in the end, and I don't think they'll shy away from making changes.

 

That was my read too, and I believe they will back it up with changes. It'll be interesting to watch how they address both groups.

 

My need rankings: 

 

1a) Pass Rusher (must find)

1b) OL (OT/OG) (must find)

2) CB2 (must find on the cheap)

3a) TE (would be nice)

3b) RB - (I view this as more of a luxury upgrade, not as pressing)

 

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6 hours ago, Deranged Rhino said:

 

That was my read too, and I believe they will back it up with changes. It'll be interesting to watch how they address both groups.

 

My need rankings: 

 

1a) Pass Rusher (must find)

1b) OL (OT/OG) (must find)

2) CB2 (must find on the cheap)

3a) TE (would be nice)

3b) RB - (I view this as more of a luxury upgrade, not as pressing)

 

 

I agree with your need rankings except RB.  An upgrade is needed — but maybe they can get it on the cheap.  I wanted Singletary to be good and was disappointed in every game except the 49ers. 

 

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Need to find our Chris Jones and Frank Clark.  

 

And anyone that can keep Oliver in a 3 technique.  

 

 

A zero/1 Tech DT

DE

 

That's it.  The biggest needs.  Find those and we're good to go.  

 

Unfortunately there isn't an elite D-Linemen store.  

 

Now maybe Star solves the 1 tech.

 

Maybe AJ comes in and makes a huge leap.

 

But whatever we do don't go crazy looking for run stuffers.  Prioritize getting after the QB.  That includes any LBs that can blitz better then Milano.  

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Production doesn't add up for high-priced Bills defensive line

“That’s a critical area for our football team to improve,” McDermott said. “We have to be able to affect the quarterback with a four-man rush. I thought at times we did that and other times we could have been better, just like our entire defense or entire football team, so there’s still meat on the bone there.”

 

In both 2019 and 2020, no team in the NFL had a higher percentage of its salary cap devoted to the defensive line than Buffalo. According to Spotrac.com, in 2019 the Bills spent 22.8% of their cap on the line and in 2020 it increased to 23.2%. Yet in both years, the collective group did not provide the type of dividends the Bills would have hoped. ...

 

... This is a big offseason for the Bills, one that may require another reboot up front.

 

Edge rusher Trent Murphy is a free agent who won’t be re-signed, and with the restrictive salary cap due to the pandemic, the Bills have to create space and two of the best ways to do it would be to release Butler and Jefferson which brings about $13.3 million in savings.

 

Assuming those players are gone, what do the Bills have left?

 

On the edge, Jerry Hughes, who remains Buffalo’s past pass rusher, is heading into the final year of his contract and at 33 years old in August, the Bills have to start planning for his imminent departure. Same for Addison as he is signed through 2022 but will be 34 in September. He tied for the Bills' lead with five sacks, but over his previous four years in Carolina he averaged nearly 10 per season....

 

... On the inside, Ed Oliver, Harrison Phillips and Justin Zimmer will be back, and Star Lotulelei, who opted out of 2020 due to COVID-19, is expected to return. Of that group, only Oliver is considered a threat as a pass rusher, but now he has to start proving it. ...

 

... Beane took the tack that at his position, it’s difficult for Oliver to dominate on the stat sheet, which is true, especially when he didn’t have Lotulelei, a true one-technique tackle, next to him so he faced constant double teams.

 

“Ed’s playing really well, and if people want to just look at sack numbers, he doesn’t have those,” said Beane, referring to Oliver’s two-year total of eight, three this past season. “But he impacts the game, not only the pass game but the run game, and he’s growing, he’s learning. The sacks will come I think as he continues to learn the game and learn how people are playing him and blocking him.” ...

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  • 2 weeks later...

32 NFL players who need a change of scenery this offseason: Who needs a fresh start for every team

For Buffalo this is listed:
 

AFC EAST
Buffalo Bills

Defensive end Trent Murphy

The Bills kept Murphy around despite his $9.7 million cap hit last season, in part because rookie second-round pick AJ Epenesa needed time to acclimate. But Murphy was active for only 10 games in 2020, missing essentially all of Buffalo's final stretch of the season, when it played its best defensive football. He is a free agent this offseason and probably has played his final snaps in Buffalo. But at just 30 years old, his playing days are not yet over. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

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PFF: Bills should target Yannick Ngakoue, William Jackson III in free agency

... According to the football analytics outlet, two players the Bills should look into signing are defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback William Jackson III.

Here’s the PFF breakdown:

 

Buffalo can open up over $20 million in cap room via cuts prior to free agency. If they do that, they’ll be in the market to bolster their middling defensive front. Quinton Jefferson, Mario Addison and Vernon Butler all underwhelmed and produced PFF grades below 61.0. Yannick Ngakoue isn’t going to provide much in run support, but he will bolster the Bills’ pass-rush and could slide right into Addison’s role in 2021. Ngakoue is tied for ninth among edge rushers in pass-rush grade over the last four seasons. He and Hughes would immediately become one of the better pass-rushing tandems in the NFL.

 

Jefferson, Addison and Butler are three of four cap casualties they suggest Buffalo makes this offseason. All three would be deductions from the defensive line, however, the Bills should want some better production from that area.

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Bills free-agent targets: Defensive ends

The Bills feel the need to improve their perimeter pass rush heading into 2021 for good reason: Their top five defensive ends combined to give them just 13.5 sacks in 2020.

 

Still, the Bills' defense figured things out and became an outstanding unit from the beginning of November until the Kansas City Chiefs finally figured the group out in the AFC Championship Game.

 

Then the Bills figured out while watching the Tampa Bay Bucs dismantle the Chiefs in the Super Bowl that they would have had a much better chance of making it there themselves had they been able to pressure Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes more with just four pass rushers, enabling them to drop more defenders into coverage. ...

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Cut candidates for all 32 NFL teams
 

</snip>
 

BUFFALO BILLS: EDGE Mario Addison

Current Projected cap space: (-)$1,011,351
Cut cap savings: $6,190,625
Cut dead money: $4,000,000
Post-June 1 Cut cap savings: $8,190,625
Post-June 1 Cut dead money: $2,000,000

Addison will be 34 years old for the 2021 campaign and has now seen his overall grade drop by 6.5 points in consecutive seasons, from 69.9 in 2018 to 63.4 in 2019 and finally to 56.9 in 2020. He’s trending in the wrong direction as Father Time catches up to him, and Buffalo has to get younger at edge rusher.
 

</snip>

 

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With Star set to return, do we see a real breakout season from Oliver this year?

 

Bills offseason questions: Where does Ed Oliver stand after Year 2?

... “Ed's playing really well, and if people want to just look at sack numbers, he doesn't have those,” General Manager Brandon Beane said. “But he impacts the game, not only the pass game, but the run game, and he's growing, he's learning. But at the end of the day, the sacks will come, I think, as he continues to learn the game and learn how people are playing him and blocking him. Ed faces a lot of doubles, too, so it's not the easiest road for him. But I thought he definitely took a step up from Year One to Year Two. He might have started slow, this year but I thought three-quarters of the year he played really well and helped our defense.” ...

 

... Because of the Bills’ commitment to rotating the defensive line, Oliver had almost the exact same amount of playing time in 2020 as he did his rookie year.

 

He played 578 snaps in the regular season this year, or 54%. That ranked 37th among NFL defensive tackles. In 2019, he saw 567 snaps, or 53.9%.

 

Circumstances were slightly less optimal for Oliver in 2020 because of the absence of Star Lotulelei. The Bills didn’t have a true, 1-technique player to line up over a shoulder of the center. Vernon Butler did better at the job the second half of the season. The 287-pound Oliver even took a few more snaps at the 1-technique job than in his rookie year. ...

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Buffalo Bills miss out on J.J. Watt, keep focus on improving defensive line

... the Bills likely aren't done trying to make changes to their defensive line. No team spent more on that position group than Buffalo last season, and although it did lead to the league's second-best pass rush win rate (according to NFL Next Gen Stats), it didn't necessarily lead to the elite production one would expect for the $51 million cap hit it took, per Spotrac. ...

 

..."We feel like it starts up front and we've got to be good there before we can worry about the back end. ... We were probably still a little light for my comfort level, and I think we really had to focus on stopping that run and maybe that affected some other areas, whether it was getting to the passer or just defending the pass in the back end." ...

 

... "AJ played at a much heavier weight at Iowa and we asked him to get his body weight down, make it a better body comp from a fat percentage," Beane said. "Not only did he get it down, he went way down, and he came in probably a little too light, lighter than we wanted. But that showed how hard he had worked this offseason, and I think he came in and started a little slow, and we were a little worried how he was going to hold up against the run early on. He added a little bit, but then he just couldn't move the needle. He played well, he improved his pass rush."

 

"Coaches wanted to earn that trust from him, having some veterans in Jerry [Hughes] and Mario [Addison] and Trent [Murphy] and those guys, but I think he's got a high ceiling and it'll be a big offseason for him." ...

 

... "That's a critical area for our football team to improve. We have to be able to affect the quarterback with a four-man rush," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "At times we did that and other times we could have been better -- just like our entire defense or entire football team -- so there's still meat on the bone there.

 

"More than anything, what coach Washington was able to do was lay a foundation of techniques and understanding, and that's the growth we made during the season. The exciting piece is when the guys come back they understand now what's expected in terms of the techniques and the fundamentals that go with playing at a high level at that position."

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