The Buffalo Bills have achieved sustained success under coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane. 2021 marked the first time the Bills had qualified for the playoffs in three straight years since Jim Kelly was their quarterback. But like 30 other teams, Buffalo felt short of their ultimate goal. Can they take the next step? It depends largely on how the Bills manage their pending 2022 free agents, team needs, draft picks, and limited cap space in the 2022 offseason.
Buffalo Bills 2022 Offseason Preview
Continuity has been key for the Bills, with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in their current roles since 2017 and 2018, respectively. But that can’t go on forever, considering they have the credentials and aspirations to be head coaches.
Quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey might be the Bills’ offensive play-caller in waiting. Or someone might poach him at some point too.
Daboll and Dorsey are both highly respected for the fantastic job they’ve done developing quarterback Josh Allen, who had another dazzling season in 2021. The Bills made Allen the NFL’s second-highest-paid player early in training camp. And Allen rewarded their faith in him in the months that followed, passing for over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns for the second straight year.
The Bills’ objective this and every offseason that follows must be to provide Allen with all the help he needs to win a championship. That might be easier said than done this offseason, however, considering Buffalo’s limited resources.
Bills have $9.5 million in projected cap space
Source: Spotrac (as of Jan. 9)
Buffalo has nearly $200 million in 2022 cap obligations already on the books — which isn’t great when you consider the salary cap has already been set at $208 million. And there aren’t many obvious ways to clear space.
They could save $7.5 million by cutting center Mitch Morse and another $5.3 million by jettisoning guard Daryl Williams. But then the Bills would have to rebuild their offensive line. Releasing wide receiver Cole Beasley would free up an additional $6 million.
Bills’ pending free agents
Buffalo didn’t have a particularly old roster overall in 2021, but the team did have a number of key contributors with a decade or more of experience. Decisions are looming on unrestricted free agents Emmanuel Sanders, Taiwan Jones, Mario Addison, and Jerry Hughes — all of whom were 33+ years of age at season’s end.
Cornerback Levi Wallace should have a market if he hits free agency. It also wouldn’t be a total shock if some quarterback-needy team takes a shot on Mitchell Trubisky.
Bills’ team needs
There aren’t many glaring needs on one of the league’s most talented rosters. But there’s still, of course, room for improvement.
The Bills will look for receiver help since Sanders, Beasley, and Isaiah McKenzie could all be gone. Additionally, Buffalo doesn’t know for certain what Tre’Davious White will look like when he returns from ACL surgery. It wouldn’t at all surprise us if Buffalo takes a corner early in April’s draft.
Bills’ top five needs in the 2022 NFL offseason
- Running back
- Wide receiver
- Defensive tackle
Bills’ 2022 NFL Draft picks
Shortly before the start of the 2021 season, the Bills shipped defensive end Darryl Johnson to the Panthers. Carolina lost that trade. Johnson got hurt and hardly played. Buffalo got a sixth-round pick for a player they likely would have cut.
Here’s how the Bills’ 2022 NFL Draft picks stand according to the current draft order:
- Round 1 (Pick 25)
- Round 2 (Pick 58)
- Round 3 (Pick 89)
- Round 4 (Pick 128)
- Round 6 (Picks 185 — from CAR — & 205)
- Round 7 (Picks 230 — from ATL — & 243)