Mario "Game" Granata
Residing in the 716 (Western, New York) as I do, there is a lot of talk about the Buffalo Bills off-season moves, more notably the failed re-signing of Jairus Byrd and the trade of Stevie Johnson. In Buffalo, the 2nd round pick, Byrd, was known as a playmaker, who amassed 22 interceptions during his career as a Bill. Stevie Johnson became a social media darling with the Bills Mafia, and was always good for a one-liner, and endeared himself to the blue-collar atmosphere of Buffalo, becoming a starter after being selected in the 7th round. So, why there may be some resentment in Buffalo, the moves that were made were for the best.
Much of the fan base in Buffalo couldn't understand the way that players like Jairus Byrd and Stevie Johnson, two players who made their name for the Buffalo Bills wouldn't be with the team going into the 2014 season. When paying closer attention to the numbers that accompany Byrd and Johnson, and putting those against the numbers of the free agent pickups that are going to be at One Bills Drive this Spring and Fall, it is easy to see that it was purely a numbers game, and trying to gain not only quantity but quality at the same time. For the sake of simplification, the numbers that are examined are just the Salary Cap numbers for the players involved.
At the end of the 2013 season, there were glaring needs that were staring the Buffalo Bills in the face, and needs that had to be addressed or the Bills would be 'celebrating' another season of playoff-less football. They suffered the loss of Mike Pettine, who took a group of young, hungry players, and made them into a defense that would attack any offense, and now with his departure, and the addition of Jim Schwartz, the obvious change of a 3-4 blitz-happy front to a 4-3 passive defense, there were changes that had to be made. With Schwartz at the helm, the Bills were in need of a run-stopping linebacker in the middle, a speedy strong side linebacker, a nickel cover corner, a veteran possession receiver, more consistent play at the left guard position, and a formidable running back if injuries plagued the Bills once again. Now, the Bills had two options: gain all of these players in the draft, or make some moves in free agency, and have the freedom to make some noise in the draft. The Bills chose the latter, and were able to add Brandon Spikes, Keith Rivers, Corey Graham, Mike Williams, Chris Williams and Bryce Brown. The cost of all these players to the Bills in 2014 came to a 6th round pick, and a grand total of 12.4 million dollars for these 6 players. In 2015, the cost was a 4th round pick and a total of 17.3 million dollars for 5 of the players (Spikes only on a 1 year deal). And looking ahead to 2016 the cost was 15.5 million for 3 of these players (Spikes, Brown, and Rivers excluded). Now depending on their play, the Bills might want to resign some of them, but by making the moves that they did, they were able to trade up to get the explosive and electric Sammy Watkins, a #1 receiving threat that the Bills desperately needed.
Taking a look at the cap numbers of Byrd and Johnson, in 2014 (if the Bills had to sign Byrd to the same contract that the Saints signed him to) it would have cost them 12 million. In 2015, that number jumps to 19 million and in 2016 it is 18 million. So, it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that the Bills are gaining 6 players (two who are former 1st round picks (Chris Williams and Keith Rivers)) and filled some holes that they were in dire need of.
Now that your head has been spun around with all the math that occurred, the Bills moves, may seem unpopular to the fans, were essential to the growth and the progression of the team. They acquired players that they had to have, and by doing so, were able to gain a lot more in return. Now, all that is left is for the Bills to put it all together come September, and with the new additions that have been brought to Buffalo, only time will tell if it was they were the right moves.