The Buffalo Bills have a great opportunity to make some noise in free agency. Here are five targets general manager Brandon Beane should pursue this spring.
The Buffalo Bills are building something special in Western New York. In the three years since Sean McDermott became their head coach, Buffalo has made the AFC playoffs twice, found its franchise quarterback in Josh Allen and has built a culture that is sustaining excellence. Heading into 2020, Buffalo will look to make it three years out of four the Bills will be in the postseason.
Buffalo will continue to draft well under the guidance of general manager Brandon Beane. That being said, that still may not be enough for the Bills to overtake the New England Patriots and win the AFC East for the first time sine realignment. The Bills will need to make a few wise decisions in free agency to make their solid football team even stronger. Fortunately, they’re in a good position.
According to Spotrac, Buffalo has $89 million to work with this offseason in available cap space. This is the fourth-most money in the league. While getting free agents to come to frigid Western New York is tough sledding, a winning culture helps, as does having the luxury to afford to pay a premium to keep top talent in-house and land a few others.
Ultimately, Buffalo may not get the marquee free agents of other teams in this offseason cycle. That being said, this organization is smart enough to get the right players who will add to impressive football culture. Here are the top five targets for the Bills heading into 2020 NFL free agency.
OLB New Orleans Saints
One of the toughest things the Bills will have to overcome this offseason is outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander‘s retirement. The two-time Pro Bowler spent the last four seasons in Orchard Park, having his best seasons and being a tremendous locker room presence for a young team. Buffalo needs to find the right savvy veteran to help offset Alexander’s departure this spring.
One player who make a seamless transition to the Bills this offseason would be New Orleans Saints outside linebacker A.J. Klein. He will be 29 years old in 2020 and it would be his eighth professional season out of Iowa State University, having been a fifth-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2013 NFL Draft. And that’s where the transition becomes so seamless.
Klein played for McDermott from 2013-16 in Charlotte. Beane was also in the building during Klein’s rookie contract. Once the current Buffalo brain trust left Charlotte for Orchard Park, Klein went to the Big Easy to play for Sean Payton in Dennis Allen’s Saints defense. Klein earned $6 million annually over the last four years in New Orleans, starting 42 of 43 games for the Saints.
No, Klein is not going to have a double-digit sack campaign for the Bills like Alexander did in 2016. However, he’ll know what to expect out of McDermott and should thrive in a leadership role on Leslie Frazier‘s defense. This is not a sexy free agent that’ll move the needle leaguewide, but landing a veteran outside linebacker like Klein is the move that could help Buffalo win the division.