The Gang get together for one last pod in the current studio (aka Frank’s living room) before he moves. They talk about OTAs, how easy football is for EJ Manuel, reflect on the Buddy Nix era and deal with the very real and serious issue of when your fiancee divulges your text messages in an effor to paint you as unstable so that she can keep the engagement ring. Plus, suicide.
Everything Draft from Frank, Paul and Scott!
This episode is so awesome we can’t tell you anything about it! Okay, we talk about Kevin Kolb, Allan Branch and our disappointment in the draft upcoming. Plus Pizza and other things.
Return of the Podcast! Scott, Paul and Frank talk Fitz-cutrick, Bills lack of Free Agency (and if that is a good thing or not), Draft strategy and a lot of goofing around. Also, Frank probably hates the NFL. Who knew?
- Written by Paul -
The opening rush of free agency has come and gone, and the Bills have added one notable player to the roster with two-down LB Manny Lawson coming aboard after signing a 4-year contract worth up to $12 million dollars. Dozens of other widely talked-about players have signed elsewhere — including several 2012 Bills — while Buffalo has stood idly by on the sideline.
For once in the maddening recent history of the Buffalo Bills, the front office has done exactly the right thing.
It’s against the nature of fans to believe that making no substantial additions is ever a good thing, particularly at a time when most other teams are feverishly augmenting their rosters, and even more so when your team has not made the playoffs since current starting defensive lineman Marcell Dareus was nine years old.
But just because you have money and you have holes to fill, it doesn’t mean you should spend that money on mediocrity – on players who are, in the most accurate sense of the term, hole-fillers.
Remember March 1, 2008? A day that then-chief operating officer Russ Brandon spoke of by saying, “We feel this is a significant day in Buffalo Bills history”? It was the day the Bills held a press conference to announce the free agent signings in Marcus Kawika Mitchell and Spencer Johnson and a trade that brought Marcus Stroud to Buffalo. The moves were heralded as the beginnings of the return to glory for the defense.
History has shown the only significance to that day in terms of the Bills’ history is that it makes an excellent example of why the franchise has failed throughout the course of the millennium.
Free agency is not the primary means of building a football club. Even the alleged big-impact signings yield mixed results, as noted in an NFL.com March 15 article that includes the 2012 Bills among those teams whose moves did not pay off. (Though in all fairness judging them one year later is incredibly premature, especially considering Mario Williams’ occasional dominance.)
A review of some of the Bills’ more recent high-profile offseason moves does not paint a pretty picture. Leaving out those from 2010-2012 who still have a chance to prove themselves, what we have when reviewing those who signed multi-year, big-dollar deals is this:
- 2006: Robert Royal, TE – 5-year, $10 million deal that included a $2.5 million signing bonus. Cut after three unproductive seasons. Last played in the NFL in 2010.
- 2006: Larry Tripplett, DT – 5-year, $18 million deal that included a $5.5 million signing bonus. Cut after two unproductive seasons. Last played in the NFL in 2008.
- 2007: Langston Walker – 5-year, $25 million deal with a $10 million signing bonus. Cut in 2009 training camp after two frustratingly inconsistent seasons. Last played in the NFL in 2010.
- 2007: Derrick Dockery – 7-year, $49 million deal with $18 million signing bonus, the third largest in NFL history at his position. Cut after two seasons. Would go back to Washington and start every game in 2009; has started six games over past three seasons as a reserve between Washington and Dallas.
- 2008: Marcus Stroud – Traded 3rd and 5th round draft picks to acquire, then signed to a 2-year contract extension that guaranteed him $12 million and paid him $16 million in 2009. Cut after three unproductive seasons. Last played in the NFL in 2010.
- 2008: Kawika Mitchell – 5-year, $17.5 million deal. Cut after playing 21 (mainly unproductive) games in two seasons. Last played in the NFL in 2010.
- 2008: Spencer Johnson – Same contract as Mitchell. The most successful on this list as he played out the full length of his contract and NFL inflation made his salary the going market value for his role by the end of it. Not exactly a rousing endorsement.
- 2009: Geoff Hangartner – 4-year, $10 million deal. Cut after two middling seasons as the starting center.
Every team signs average players during free agency. But good teams don’t pay top dollar for them. Overspending for average players can be deadly. For the most part, the available names this year are uninspiring (save those who re-signed with their teams before free agency started), and yet everyone seems to be getting their payday.
Signing Kevin Kolb (for example) to a big deal does not make him your franchise QB. It makes you a team that has an average QB who’s wrecked your salary cap.
Upset that the Bills were not interested in Brandon Gibson? Why? Is Brandon Gibson the playmaker that is going to turn things around for the Bills offense? No. Why would you waste money on a depth player who could be adequately replaced with someone cheaper (and younger)?
Love Andy Levitre? That’s fine – you could do worse. But you don’t sign slightly above average guards to 6-year, $46.8 million deals. The Bills were right to let him move on. Same with David Nelson. He was due a $1.323 million qualifying offer and is coming off a season-ending torn knee ligament. Heck, as Tim Graham of The Buffalo News pointed out, the Bills may be able to bring him back at a salary closer to the 2013 minimum salary of $358,000 for a player with three accrued seasons if interest in him is lukewarm, which it very well may be.
The bottom line: It’s much better to have holes to fill than to have high-salary players providing average to sub-par production and handcuffing your ability to sign difference makers. If you’re going to have below-average players on the field (which every team does), they can’t be engulfing your salary cap space, and this year’s generally lackluster cast of free agents will do just that for the teams that sign them.
You should spend your money on playmakers – guys like C.J. Spiller, Jairus Byrd, Leodis McKelvin, Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, and Brad Smith (don’t worry, we’re prepared to back that last one up). The Bills have all of these players under contract through at least 2013, and that is one thing the franchise has going for it.
So with solutions few and far between in free agency, save that money for when you need it to hang on to your playmakers or to sign proven, high-level talent. For now, fans can focus on where the Bills organization will be getting its new stars for the 2013 season – the draft (cough, cough).
Super Bowl, Andre Reed, Stevie Johnson, Free Agents and looking forward to next year where, Maybe Next Year will be our year.
In the penultimate episode of season 1, Paul and Frank ride duo and talk about the fwe Buffalo Bills things there are to talk about. Also, a small digression regarding Tim Horton, the metric system, why people hold up atheletes as Gods and of course our Super Bowl Picks! WHAAAATT!? Enjoy!