ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — You have Buffalo Bills questions. I have answers.
Let’s do this.
Ed Helinski: What’s surprised you the most about the Bills’ offseason? Has it been a single or multiple things?
Vic Carucci: Multiple. First was their ability to re-sign Jordan Poyer. I did not see that coming.
For one, I figured he was more than a little determined to go elsewhere and perhaps end up with the Dolphins, near his home in South Florida. He was giving off some public signals, including concerns over New York’s high taxes, that gave the impression he did not wish to return to the Bills. For another, I assumed the Bills’ salary cap was simply too tight to allow them to find the room necessary to sign him to a deal that would be satisfactory to both sides.
It was impressive the Bills were able to rework some of their larger contracts, including Josh Allen’s, to open enough cap space to accommodate the agreement they managed to reach with Poyer. It was also notable that they found a way to structure it so that Poyer received sufficient guaranteed money to convince him that his best option was remaining in Buffalo.
The second big surprise of the Bills’ offseason was not addressing two of their bigger needs, edge rusher and middle linebacker. My expectation was they would do so in the draft, where they instead went with offense with their first two picks: tight end and guard.
Erma Gersch (beer/wings): Going into the draft, two of the Bills’ biggest needs were MLB and OT. But no OT or MLB was selected or signed as a FA. 3rd-rd pick Dorian Williams is slated as depth behind Matt Milano at WLB along with Terrel Bernard. Why were these positions of need ignored?
VC: With the draft, the simple answer is the Bills saw greater need at the positions addressed in the first two rounds, tight end (Dalton Kincaid) and guard (O’Cyrus Torrence). They believe Kincaid, with his considerable speed and athleticism and pass-catching ability, will give them a much-needed over-the-middle target and do plenty right away to add to their already explosive air attack. We’ll see. They are convinced they have a considerable upgrade for their interior O-line and that Torrence can be a long-time fixture there. I agree.
In terms of free agency, and as mentioned above, the Bills’ salary cap constraints made it unlikely they’d spend big money on a middle linebacker or an offensive tackle or pretty much any position. The Bills’ biggest free-agent move was re-signing Poyer. The fact they said goodbye to one of the most prominent players on the free-agent market, middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, pretty much speaks to the fact they were not going to turn around and invest big money in another player at the position. It’s fair to question whether they should have been more aggressive in their pursuit of an MLB in the draft, especially with the presumed major fall-off in quality after the lower portion of the first round.
Of course, it’s also fair to say the Bills didn’t see their needs the way many outsiders, including yours truly, did. General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott are clearly confident their MLB hole can be filled by either Bernard or Tyrel Dodson, who will compete for the starting job. Additionally, the Bills’ decision-makers are convinced they are good at tackle despite the struggles of Dion Dawkins and Spencer Brown, particularly in the latter stages of last season and the playoffs. But it isn’t ridiculous to think Torrence could get a chance to show what he could do at right tackle.
If Williams makes any sort of immediate impact, it will likely be on special teams. That doesn't seem like the greatest value for a third-round choice.
Rick Brennan: I’m reading where some players prefer the artificial turf at some stadiums even over natural grass fields. Can you find out just how true that is?
VC: I have not seen a whole lot on that specific topic, though there has obviously been vast discussion and debate over turf vs. grass.
Half of NFL stadiums have artificial surfaces, including Highmark Stadium. The NFL Players Association and individual players continue to push hard for grass to be in all league venues.
The argument favoring grass is, of course, that fewer players are injured playing on it and more injuries occur on artificial fields. There have been studies showing fake surfaces have resulted in significantly more injuries than on grass.
Time will tell if the shift from grass to artificial turf through the years will see a reversal. The biggest obstacle has been cost, which was part of what drove the change. It takes more money to maintain grass than an artificial field, though the Bills are planning to go with grass in their new stadium.
Still, it’s worth noting that artificial surfaces have evolved and some are better than others. There’s also no denying that the real grass on which Super Bowl LVII was played in February in Arizona was terrible. Players from both the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles complained about issues with footing, which was an embarrassment for the NFL’s premiere event.
Jason #BillsMafia: Do you see us keeping 5 DTs? If not who’s the odd man out?
VC: At this point, I can see the Bills keeping five defensive tackles.
The position was in dire need of being fortified. I’m not sure if the Bills necessarily achieved that with the signing of Poona Ford from Seattle. But I see him having the potential, with his considerable girth and low center of gravity, to be a significant part of a solid rotation that includes DaQuan Jones, Ed Oliver, Jordan Phillips and Tim Settle.
If the Bills should decide to go with four DTs so that they can keep an extra player elsewhere, my early odd-man-out pick is Settle.