Cue the music of the world’s smallest violin. The 2019-20 NFL season is officially over, with the Kansas City Chiefs securing the title as the best team in the NFL with a 31-20 Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Now we wait until the the free agency frenzy begins on March 18th at 4:00PM ET. Free agency is always full of surprises with outrageous contracts. This year, expect the Buffalo Bills to make different “splashes” to upgrade their franchise.
General manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have cleaned up the dead cap salary for the Bills and now have more than enough money to attract free agents. Estimating to have over $80 million for free agency, the Bills could land a big time free agent or a very key role player that will fit the scheme and culture.
The Bills are reloading after coming off a 10-6 season with a playoff berth. They have taken the step to clinch the playoffs, now it is time to go into championship caliber mode. With so much to offer for free agency, there are three players that the Bills need to pursue and stay in the running for to go further in 2020.
1.) DE Yannick Ngakoue
Let’s put this into an interesting perspective. Current Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson, who is set to become a free agent next month, had his best year of his career in 2019. Lawson recorded 6.5 sacks with 32 tackles and one forced fumble. Ngakoue had arguably his worst season of his career, although his stats in 2019 are significantly better than Lawson’s 2019 season. Ngakoue racked up eight sacks, 41 tackles and a pick six.
Ngakoue provides more of a consistent pass rush and can help in the run game with containment. He comes from a 4-3 defensive scheme, the same as Buffalo and he is slowly approaching his prime at 24 years old. McDermott loves his defense and Ngakoue would get an upgrade at a pass rusher over Lawson and Jerry Hughes.
2.) OT Jack Conklin
If the Tennessee Titans are not able to retain Conklin, he will be the biggest name at the right tackle position that half of the NFL could use to solidify their offensive line. Since tearing his ACL in 2018, Conklin has become a consistent blocker for the Titans and he’ll be getting a bigger contract, whether it is from the Titans or another organization.
The Bills have had a problem on the right side of their line for many years. They drafted offensive lineman Cody Ford who rotated at right tackle with Ty Nsekhe, before becoming the official starter down the stretch with Nsekhe injuring his ankle later in the season. Ford is nothing more than an average tackle, but he would be an excellent mauling guard in the run game. Conklin would come into to Buffalo as the automatic starting right tackle which can push Ford inside and rotate with Jon Feliciano at the right guard position.
An offensive line from left to right, consisting of Dion Dawkins, Quinton Spain (pending free agent), Mitch Morse, Ford/Feliciano, and Conklin is a big wall to protect Josh Allen.
3.) TE Austin Hooper
Here me out on this one. Hooper is a top five tight end and is apart of one of the most passing offenses’ in the NFL in Atlanta. To think that the Falcons may not re-sign him would be insane, but anything can happen in this business. If he touches free agency, he will be a heavily targeted player.
McDermott is huge on the tight end position. The Bills went out and signed free agents Tyler Kroft and Lee Smith in the offseason last year, with both having bust labels on them with penalties and the ability to not stay healthy. The Bills have the chance to move on from Kroft while saving five million dollars on the cap. With the emergence of Dawson Knox, Hooper would be an excellent complimentary piece of the Bills offense.
Hooper is another big body that can catch and block. Coming from a pass-happy offense, he has the ability to open the field for Allen and the pass game which can move the chains.
-Brandon Ray is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the Buffalo Bills. Make sure to follow Brandon on Twitter at @brandon_ray79.