Bills Rumors

Bills Worried About Tight End Depth?

The Bills may be seeking some reinforcement at tight end. Josina Anderson tweets that “apprehensions with production [and] consistency at the Bills tight end spot are still a topic of conversation” within the organization.

With all due respect to the team’s tight ends, this assessment makes plenty of sense. Josh Allen threw for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns last season, but the group of tight ends barely cracked 400 receiving yards. 2019 third-rounder Dawson Knox will continue to lead the depth chart, and the 24-year-old has averaged only 25 yards per game through his first two years in the NFL (27 games).

The Bills did bring in veteran Jacob Hollister this offseason, but the veteran isn’t known for his pass-catching prowess. The organization also added undrafted free agent Quintin Morris, pairing the additions with holdovers like Tommy Sweeney and Nate Becker. Considering the lack of inspiring options, Anderson notes that the situation is “something to keep an eye on,” especially considering the availability of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. If Buffalo ends up pulling off that kind of deal, it sounds like the current grouping of tight ends would be ready for the extra reinforcement.

“How I look at that stuff is whoever they bring in, that’s just great competition for the room,” Knox said (via Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle). “I love that Jacob’s (Hollister) here now, he’s a great dude. No matter who they bring in, whether it’s a rookie or an All-Pro like Zach, I think it’ll be great just to elevate the competition. Iron sharpens iron and that’s a big philosophy that I have.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Make Front Office Changes

  • The Bills will rely on a group effort to replace Dan Morgan, who left his VP of player personnel gig in Buffalo to become Carolina’s assistant GM. Terrance Gray, Malik Boyd and ex-Texans GM Brian Gaine will split Morgan’s duties, according to Brandon Beane (via Maddy Glab of BuffaloBills.com). The Bills interviewed both Gray and Boyd and promoted each. Gray will rise from college scouting director to assistant director of player personnel; Boyd will shift from pro personnel director to senior director of pro scouting. Gaine remains in his senior personnel advisor role. Boyd interviewed for the Texans’ GM job earlier this year.
  • Buffalo also hired Princeton quality control coach Sophia Lewin as an offensive assistant, according to NFL senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion Sam Rapoport (Twitter link). Lewin and Andrea Gosper, who will rise from Bills scouting intern to player personnel coordinator for the team, caught on with the Bills through the NFL’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum.

Titans CB Kevin Johnson To Retire

Despite landing a one-year deal in free agency for a third straight offseason, Kevin Johnson will opt to step away from football. The Titans cornerback is retiring, according to the team.

Tennessee signed Johnson in March, giving him a one-year deal worth $2.25MM. The 28-year-old cornerback will wrap his career after six seasons. Injuries, unfortunately, played a significant part in the former first-round pick’s NFL run.

The Texans selected Johnson 16th overall in 2015 out of Wake Forest. He started 10 games as a rookie but was unable to stay on the field in subsequent years, shortening his time in Houston. Though Johnson bounced back to carve out roles in Buffalo and Cleveland, he will finish his career with one interception.

A broken foot began Johnson’s rough luck in 2016, limiting him to six games in his second season. In 2017, a sprained MCL cost him time. While Johnson played 12 games that season, he suited up for just one in 2018 after a severe concussion sidelined him that September. The Titans cut him in 2019, backtracking on a fifth-year option commitment it made the previous spring.

Johnson played out one-year deals with the Bills and Browns the past two seasons. Working as a depth piece for the two rising teams, the 6-foot defender helped both to the playoffs. However, Johnson was part of a Browns COVID-19 outbreak late last season. As a result, Cleveland’s primary slot corner was not on the field for the franchise’s first playoff win in 26 years.

Since signing Johnson, the Titans used first- and third-round picks on corners — Caleb Farley and Elijah Molden. Tennessee invested a second-round pick in Kristian Fulton last year and also signed Janoris Jenkins this March. The Titans’ new-look cornerback contingent will not include Johnson, but the team has been active in adding cover men over the past two offseasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Sign First-Round DE Gregory Rousseau

The Bills used first- and second-round picks on defensive ends this year. Both are now under contract. Gregory Rousseau signed his rookie deal Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Selected 30th overall, Rousseau will receive $11.367MM guaranteed. The Miami alum will be expected to help a Bills team that featured no pass rusher surpass five sacks in 2020. The Rousseau pick preceded Buffalo selecting Wake Forest’s Boogie Basham in Round 2. Basham signed his rookie deal last month. Rousseau’s rookie deal, unlike Basham’s, can run through 2025 (via the fifth-year option).

Both Rousseau and Hurricanes rusher Jaelan Phillips went off the board, to AFC East teams, in Round 1. The Dolphins took Phillips ahead of the Bills’ selection. Rousseau had Phillips one-upped after his most recent college season, 2019, when he posted 15.5 sacks and forced two fumbles. But Rousseau opted out of his junior season and did not generate momentum during the pre-draft process.

Buffalo will bet on his breakout sophomore season being a better indicator of his potential. Rousseau did not record a sack as a freshman in 2018, playing in only one game, and ranked 48th among this year’s prospects, per Scouts Inc. The 6-foot-6 edge defender played in just 14 games at Miami. This certainly increases the risk of the Bills’ pick.

The defending AFC East champions, however, now have a wealth of notable defensive ends on their roster. Rousseau and Basham join 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa and returning starters Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills, Stefon Diggs Rework Contract

The Bills converted $11.7MM of Stefon Diggs‘ base salary into a signing bonus (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Field Yates). In turn, the Bills now have $7.8MM in extra cap space for 2021, though that amount will be pushed onto the 2022 books. 

[RELATED: Bills Make Reid Ferguson Top-Paid LS]

The Vikings signed Diggs to a five-year, $72MM extension in July 2018. However, Diggs’ $14.4MM-per-year salary was too much for Minnesota given their cap crunch. The Bills traded for him last year, surrendering a first-round pick in the swap. The Bills’ thrilling run to the AFC Championship Game probably wouldn’t have happened without Diggs, one of the league’s most exciting wide receivers.

The Bills gave Diggs a small pay bump/advance on his money upon acquiring him, so he was happy to reciprocate this week. Despite all the changes, he remains locked up through 2023 on a manageable contract. Diggs, who won’t turn 28 until November, registered 127 catches and 1,535 receiving yards last year to lead the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Make Reid Ferguson Top-Paid LS

  • Long snappers have a rigid salary structure. Entering last week, a seven-way tie existed for the league’s highest paid deep snapper. But the Bills appear to have broken said tie. Buffalo made Reid Ferguson the highest-paid snap specialist, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Though it is not known how much more than the previous snapper-high figure ($1.2MM) the Bills are giving Ferguson, Pelissero adds that the fifth-year snapper will receive a $675K signing bonus.

Bills’ HC “Concerned” About Vaccine Timing

The Bills are back on the field in Orchard Park for voluntary workouts and head coach Sean McDermott says things are about “60% normal” in Orchard Park. With that said, McDermott is still hoping to see more of his players get vaccinated in a timely fashion. 

I’m concerned about it, being very up front,” McDermott said (via the Democrat and Chronicle). “It’s something we’ve talked about and I don’t think the right word is trying to convince (people to get the shot); I think the right word is to educate and build awareness and then let people decide. It’s kind of two-pronged, if you will, with health and safety and then what you’ve got to do to do your job. I think those are the two prongs of the fork right now that must be considered and considered seriously.”

Recently, quarterback Josh Allen indicated that he was still gathering information with regards to the vaccine and weighing his options. Meanwhile, McDermott has to tread lightly on the subject after his GM caused a recent stir.

Yeah, I would [cut players who refuse the vaccine], because [getting vaccinated] would be an advantage,” Brandon Beane said earlier this month. “I think there’s going to be some incentives if you have X -percent of your players and staff vaccinated. You can live normal…let’s just call it, back to the old days. If you don’t, it’s going to look more like last year…I hope that, if those are the rules, we’ll be able to get enough people vaccinated and not have to deal with all the headaches from a year ago.

Soon after, the NFL reached out to Beane to let him know that players cannot be released solely for declining the vaccine. NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith also bashed the Bills GM for his remarks. So, while the NFL is incentivizing players with relaxed protocols, the choice ultimately lies with the players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Extend Reid Ferguson 

The Bills signed long snapper Reid Ferguson to a brand new three-year deal, per a club announcement. Ferguson has served as the team’s LS for his entire four-year career. Now, he’s slated to continue in that role through 2024.

Ferguson came into the league in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of LSU. He didn’t make the final cut that year, but the Bills stashed him on the taxi squad. In 2017, he got the LS job, and he’s held it with perfect attendance ever since — four seasons, 64 games.

Today, the 27-year-old stands as the second-longest tenured player on the Bills’ roster, behind only Jerry Hughes, who has been with the club since 2013.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/26/21

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: OL Christian DiLauro