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Carucci Take2: With little to fix, the Bills still managed to make the most of this offseason

WGRZ Bills/NFL Insider Vic Carucci says Buffalo made the most of its offseason acquisitions, whether through free agency or during the NFL Draft.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — For a team that didn’t require a whole lot of fixing, the Buffalo Bills appear to have made the most of their offseason acquisitions.

They needed to upgrade their defensive front. Check.

They needed a cornerback. Check.

They needed a receiving dimension at running back. Check.

They needed to add depth at wide receiver. Check.

The Bills’ moves in free agency and the draft don’t guarantee they’ve done what’s necessary to clear that final hurdle separating them from the Super Bowl, but they do merit the praise they’ve largely drawn from NFL media analysts.

Most of the Bills’ shortcomings in 2021 were on defense, and the signings of Von Miller and other linemen figure to add some much-needed teeth to their pass rush. There’s a hole at the cornerback spot opposite Tre’Davious White and first-round draft pick, Kaiir Elam, could be the one who fills it. At the very least, the former Florida standout will provide some added cushion should White require more time to recover from a serious knee injury or Dane Jackson isn’t ready to be a starter.

But the offense that seemingly had all of the ingredients to be as explosive as any in the league might very well have found a way to be even better.

The Bills were good at a lot of things the past two years, but one area they struggled was yards after catch. They ranked near the bottom of the league in that category, well below top-ranked Kansas City, which eliminated them in each of the past two postseasons.

Enter second-round pick James Cook, a running back from Georgia. The exceptional pass-catching skills he displayed in college give the Bills reason to think they’ll have an effective outlet for Josh Allen or another dimension to help move the chains when defenses focus on taking away deep threats Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis. The Bills turned to Cook after J.D. McKissic, who they thought they had landed as a free agent from Washington before choosing instead to remain with the Commanders.

Enter Khalil Shakir, a fifth-round wide receiver from Boise State, as well. He did impressive work from the slot as a collegian. There’s a reason he lasted until the third day of the draft, but Shakir could be a factor in competing for the vacancy created by the release of Cole Beasley. The Bills also have free-agent signee Jamison Crowder, who is on a one-year contract, and between him, Shakir and Isaiah McKenzie, they have promising solutions to both replace Beasley and increase their yards-after-the-catch from the slot.

Even if they continued to primarily rely on a deep-ball passing game, the Bills could still make another serious Super Bowl run.

However, being capable of attacking defenses more effectively on short and intermediate throws would theoretically make them harder to stop and add to their ability to extend drives and consume more time.