Buffalo Bills Rumors & News

Bills Could Still Score Comp Picks

  • Currently, the Bills are not projected to receive any 2018 compensatory picks because they signed more unrestricted free agents (seven) to qualifying contracts than they lost to other teams (five). However, the Bills can change that, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes. By releasing a total of four of their seven signed free agents between now and Week 10, the Bills would be projected to tack on two compensatory picks – one being a third-rounder for losing cornerback Stephon Gilmore plus a fourth-rounder for losing wide receiver Robert Woods. The most likely UFAs to go, in Rodak’s estimation, are defensive end Ryan Davis, offensive lineman Vlad Ducasse, and wide receiver Andre Holmes. To secure that fourth-round pick, they could also cut fullback Patrick DiMarco or kicker Steven Hauschka.

Bills Notes: Clay, Gray

Charles Clay has a chronic knee problem and Bills coach Sean McDermott is worried.

Clay came to Buffalo as a highly-paid restricted free agent in 2015 and they’re hoping that his knee will sort itself out in the long run. The deal calls for him to carry a $9MM cap number in each of the next three seasons and there’s not much of an escape hatch if his performance declines. The Bills cannot save money by releasing him until they get to 2019 and even then, they’d only recoup $4.5MM in cap room.

  • The Bills have named Terrance Gray college scouting director, per a club announcement. Gray spent the past eleven years in Minnesota’s scouting department.

Bills Sign LB Gerald Hodges

Bills coach Sean McDermott announced that the team is has signed linebacker Gerald Hodges (Twitter link via Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News). To make room, the Bills cut cornerback Charles Gaines.Gerald Hodges (vertical)

Hodges only visited with two clubs — the Chiefs and Seahawks — during the first month of free agency. Recently, however, he has embarked on a tour that saw him meet with the Jets, Giants, Patriots, Jaguars, and Colts. However, it was his meeting with the Bills that has fostered a deal.

Hodges played on approximately half of the 49ers’ defensive snaps last year while grading out as the league’s No. 21 linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus. In his 15 games, the 26-year-old racked up 80 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions. He also was on the field for 73 special teams snaps.

The Bills’ linebacker group has already gone through some changes this year after the departures of Zach Brown and Lerentee McCray in free agency. The Bills project to start Reggie Ragland and Lorenzo Alexander at the OLB spots with Preston Brown in the middle, but the group behind them is looking a little thin. Ramon Humber and rookies Matt Milano and Tanner Vallejo figure to primarily pitch in as reserve OLBs, leaving them without a proven depth option for MLB. That’s where Hodges might come in handy for Buffalo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Sign WR Rod Streater

The Bills have signed wide receiver Rod Streater and tight end Wes Saxton, according to a team announcement. To make room, tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and quarterback Josh Woodrum have been released. The Bills cut Kouandjio with a non-football injury designation, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. "<strong

[RELATED: Why The Bills Should Sign TE Gary Barnidge]

Streater, 29, played in all 16 regular season games last season for the 49ers, catching 18 passes for 191 yards and two scores. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but he will add some depth to the team’s banged up receiver group. Star Sammy Watkins is still healing up after foot surgery and second-round rookie Zay Jones has been sidelined with a knee injury. As it stands, free agent additions Andre Holmes, Philly Brown, and Streater are the team’s top WRs in practice.

Kouandjio was involved in a bizarre incident with police in April. The lineman, 24 in July, was found partially undressed and in a field not far from the scene of a car accident. He was taken to a nearby hospital afterwards and that visit presumably included some psychiatric evaluation.

The University of Alabama product has appeared in 25 games for Buffalo since being drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft. Kouandjio has been a quality contributor in Buffalo and last season he outperformed name guys like Jake Matthews, Russell Okung, Doug Free, and Andrus Peat, according to Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 8 Fits For Free Agent TE Gary Barnidge

Gary Barnidge was a relative no-name until the 2015 season, when — at age 30 — the 6’5″ tight end broke out for 79 receptions, 1,043 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. Each of those totals were career-highs for Barnidge, and his yardage figure was the eight-highest single-season total for a tight end since 2010. The 2016 campaign wasn’t quite as fruitful for Barnidge, but he still managed 55 catches for 612 yards, solid numbers for a tight end in a weak Browns offense.Gary Barnidge (vertical)

There are certainly question marks that could lead a team to not pursue Barnidge. Chief among them is probably his age, as Barnidge is set to enter his age-32 season. That could conceivably make him an injury risk, although he’s appeared in all 32 possible games over the past two years. Bardidge’s blocking prowess is also a concern, as he ranked 50th out of 63 qualified tight ends in run blocking efficiency last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Still, Barnidge offers excellent receiving ability and should come relatively cheap. It’s tough to see Barnidge topping the $5MM and $5.3MM annual salaries earned by fellow tight ends Vernon Davis and Jared Cook respectively, and he likely won’t command a multi-year deal. So which NFL teams could possibly employ Barnidge in his 10th pro season? Let’s take a look…

Atlanta Falcons

Austin Hooper, the Falcons’ third-round pick in 2016, posted 271 receiving yards during his rookie campaign. That lowly figure was somehow the second-highest yardage total by an Atlanta tight end since Tony Gonzalez retired at the end of the 2013 season. Yes, the Falcons’ offense was the best in the NFL by a wide margin last year, but the unit could continue its dominance by adding another element at tight end. New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has never worked with an elite tight end (not counting his one-game stint as O.J. Howard‘s OC at Alabama, Sarkisian’s best TE pupil was Austin Seferian-Jenkins), so it’s unclear if he can develop young options such as Hooper and 2017 fifth-rounder Eric Saubert. A veteran such as Barnidge would allow those youthful players to grow by lessening their responsibilities, at least for the upcoming season.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills were the first stop on Barnidge’s free agent tour following his release by the Browns, so Buffalo clearly has some level of interest. Charles Clay is currently atop the Bills’ tight end depth chart, but he hasn’t been worth the five-year, $38MM deal Buffalo gave him prior to the 2015 season. Despite being the fifth-highest-paid tight end in the league, Clay has finished just 12th in approximate value since joining the Bills. Buffalo is stuck with him through at least 2018, as a 2016 contract restructure makes release unpalatable. Clay is a much better run blocker than Barnidge, so the latter would be able to play as a move tight end in the Bills’ offense. Given that Buffalo is fielding one of the league’s worst wide receiving groups, the club needs all the weapons it can get.

Carolina Panthers

After visiting with the Bills, Barnidge indicated he might take a meeting with the Panthers, and although it’s unclear if that visit ever took place, it stands to reason Carolina is still eyeing a tight end addition. Greg Olsen, clearly, is the No. 1 option for the Panthers, but the team’s depth at the position is shockingly sparse. Linked to a number of tight ends during the predraft process, Carolina ultimately stood pat, leaving only Ed Dickson and Chris Manhertz behind Olsen. Dickson, for his part, is essentially a non-factor in the receiving game and isn’t a great blocker — the Panthers could release him with a minimal dead cap charge. Barnidge spent the first four years of his career in Carolina, and a homecoming would make a lot of sense.

Cincinnati Bengals

Unquestionably one of the league’s more talented tight ends when healthy, Tyler Eifert just can’t seem to stay on the field. He’s never appeared in all 16 games, and has missed more than eight games in two of the past three seasons. Eifert’s 52-reception, 13-touchdown 2015 campaign showed him at his best, but he simply can’t be relied on. And the Bengals’ backup options are lackluster, as well, as C.J. Uzomah (25 catches, 234 yards) and Tyler Kroft (10, 92) struggled when asked to fill in for Eifert last season. Cincinnati has already bolstered its offense this offseason by adding wide receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon, and Barnidge would give the club another target and (much-needed) depth.

Denver Broncos

Denver has reached out to Barnidge in recent days, and the Broncos have a level of familiarity with Barnidge given that many of their coaches — notably offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and tight ends coach Jeff Davidson — worked with Barnidge in Carolina. While the tight end position isn’t quite the integral position in McCoy’s offense that it was in former head coach Gary Kubiak‘s, Denver still needs an infusion of talent at the position. The selection Jake Butt, of course, marked the initial step in the Broncos’ tight end revamp, but the former Michigan Wolverine may not be ready for Week 1 as he recovers from a torn ACL. Barnidge would instantly become Denver’s No. 1 tight end if signed, although head coach Vance Joseph said he’s currently pleased with the Broncos’ tight end group, tweets Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Like the Panthers, the Jaguars may try to set up a visit with Barnidge, and Barnidge confirmed that he has in fact heard from the Jacksonville staff. The Jaguars parted ways with free agent bust Julius Thomas this offseason, shipping him to Miami for a late-round pick, but the club’s only addition at the position was the signing of former Raider Mychal Rivera, who hasn’t topped 300 yards receiving since 2014. Incumbent Marcedes Lewis continues to strike new deals with the Jaguars (the latest a three-year, $12MM pact) despite last being productive at the turn of the decade, so Barnidge would represent an immediate upgrade for quarterback Blake Bortles & Co.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings may have landed a draft steal in Virginia Tech Bucky Hodges, who was projected to come off the board on Day 2 but lasted until the sixth round. Still, Hodges is more an oversized wideout than a typical tight end, as Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote in Hodges’ predraft profile. No. 1 tight end Kyle Rudolph posted the best season of his career in 2016, as he hauled in 83 passes for 840 yards, so Barnidge would clearly be the No. 2 in Minnesota. Given quarterback Sam Bradford‘s proclivity for the short passing game, adding another tight end who can play over the middle wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Pittsburgh Steelers

After releasing Ladarius Green last week, the Steelers appear set to roll with Jesse James, Xavier Grimble, and TE/FB David Johnson at tight end for the 2017 season. Pittsburgh didn’t address the position during the draft, which could mean the club is content with its current options. James, specifically, posted a nice season last year (39 receptions, 338 yards), but it’s hard to argue that he’s true No. 1 tight end for a contending team. Clearly, with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and (hopefully) Martavis Bryant in the fold, the Steelers don’t exactly need a dynamic weapon at tight end, but Barnidge would give the Steelers a veteran option for at least one year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Host WR Rod Streater On Visit

Former Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater is visiting the Bills today, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Rod Streater (Vertical)

Streater, 29, spent last season with the Niners. As a member of one of the league’s worst offensive units, he caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

Once upon a time, Streater appeared to be on the verge of big things with the Raiders. Unfortunately, after catching 60 passes for 888 yards in 2013, he was derailed by injuries. After appearing in just four games for Oakland between 2014 and 2015, he wound up with the Niners on a one-year deal.

Back in March, the Vikings, Colts, Seahawks, Browns, and incumbent 49ers were all said to have some degree of interest in him. For one reason or another, Streater did not sign with any of those clubs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reggie Bush Still Wants To Play

Reggie Bush isn’t done yet. At least, he hopes he isn’t. The former No. 2 overall pick says that he intends to play in 2017. 

That’s my plan,” Bush said (via NFL.com). “Going into year 12, I still feel like I have a lot left to prove, a lot left to give this game before I’m done. I don’t want to put a number on how many years I have left. I think once you get past year 10, you just gotta take it one year at a time and go from there. I’m still excited, still looking forward to playing football again this season, still staying in shape, still working out. I plan to be somewhere in September.”

Bush, 32, appeared in 13 games for the Bills last year, but he didn’t do a whole lot. He finished out the season with seven catches for 90 yards plus 12 carries for negative three yards and one rushing touchdown. Bush doesn’t have anyone beating down his door after that performance, but he says that he has “spoken to a few teams.”

For what it’s worth, Bush understands that he won’t be receiving the kind of lucrative offers that he was getting as a free agent prior to the 2013 season.

I think it depends. If you’re in it for the money, then it’s possible,” Bush said. “But I started playing football when I was eight years old, and it’s always been a strong passion, and it’s always been a passion that’s never gonna leave. For me at this point, I’ve made plenty of money and it’s not about the money for me. I want to get a chance to go out there on the football field and just continue to play the sport that I love to play. I’m so passionate about football and I love it, and I’m not ready to hang it up yet. I want to make sure I exhaust everything before I hang it up so I don’t have any regrets once I do hang it up.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andrew Gachkar To Visit Bills

Seventh-year linebacker Andrew Gachkar will visit the Bills on Tuesday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. It will be the Bills’ second meeting with a linebacker in as many days. They met with Gerald Hodges today.

This will also be Gachkar’s second visit this offseason. He met with the Patriots two weeks ago. Gachkar spent the past two seasons with the Cowboys, serving as a backup linebacker and special-teamer.

Buffalo’s defensive second level has some returning cogs, like Lorenzo Alexander and Preston Brown, and saw Reggie Ragland return to workouts last week. The Bills’ linebacker group, though, has some questions after converting to a 4-3.

Gachkar operated as a part-time player with the Cowboys, making just 10 total tackles since signing there in 2015. He played just 76 snaps last season, and 45 of those came in a Week 17 game that saw Dallas use many backups after clinching home-field advantage. The former Chargers seventh-round pick played in all 32 Cowboys regular-season games throughout the duration of his contract, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Doug Whaley On Draft, McDermott, QBs

Making his first public comments since being fired from the Bills, Doug Whaley touched on several issues. The former Buffalo GM and Pittsburgh executive discussed the Bills’ new head coach, his former bosses, the trade that ended up sending Patrick Mahomes to the Chiefs, and other topics.

Whaley mentioned he left the Bills with an extra first-round pick in 2018, seeming to indicate he was involved in the deal that moved Buffalo from No. 10 to No. 27 and sending Mahomes to Kansas City. While Whaley was not believed to be calling the shots in the draft room, ceding top decision-making responsibilities to Sean McDermott, the since-ousted GM was said to have helped complete the trade talks with the Chiefs’ John Dorsey.

It wasn’t uncomfortable at all. We worked well together,” Whaley said of he and McDermott’s draft-weekend dynamic during an interview with Sirius XM Radio (via NewYorkUpstate.com). “It was a great working relationship not only with the coaching staff but with the Pegulas and our personnel department. I think what came to fruition during draft day was a testament to how well we worked together in that short amount of time. Not only did we fill needs with guys at the right value with Tre’Davious White as a corner since we lost Stephon Gilmore and Zay Jones as a receiver since we lost two receivers and didn’t have a No. 2.

“… Not to mention, setting the Bills up in the future by having two first-round picks next year. Obviously we gave up one to go up and get Sammy (Watkins). I’ll have to say as a parting gift, we left them with two going into next year.”

Tyrod Taylor remains atop the team’s depth chart, but Whaley may not have regarded the former free agent flier as a player destined to become a franchise quarterback. This isn’t surprising since Whaley was believed to have been against bringing Taylor back for a third year. Whaley drafted the since-departed EJ Manuel, who did not come close to justifying the first-round investment. He emphasized the need to have a franchise passer, should he receive another chance as a GM.

It’s an easy business because if you get a franchise quarterback, everything else is a lot easier. But it’s hard finding that franchise quarterback. I think putting all your effort into trying to find that franchise quarterback but also building that team until you get that. That’s a tricky business and it’s not easy. If I get a shot again I’m going to try to map out a road map to accomplish both at the same time but try to get that franchise quarterback as quickly as possible.”

Regarding McDermott, Whaley said the Bills are going to be a disciplined team.

The one thing that really impressed us during the interview process is how detailed he is and methodical in his approach in everything he does. The one thing I feel very confident that the Buffalo Bills, he will have them in position to win a lot of games. They won’t be beating themselves. He will have them prepared as well as any coach in the NFL and the game won’t be determined on them beating themselves because he will have them prepared.”

The longtime Bills exec also addressed the decision not to match the Patriots’ RFA offer sheet submitted to Mike Gillislee, who was productive in the Bills’ No. 1-ranked rushing attack last season. It’s the second straight offseason the Patriots signed an RFA from the Bills.

(The Patriots) can bring in complementary pieces that they just use as a bag of tricks. We look at Mike Gillislee. For us, we look at is we got a guy off the street, got production out of him and were able to get a fifth-round pick for him. They’re looking at it as, ‘We can use him in a specialty role and pay him $4 million.’ They have the luxury to overpay certain people.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Meet With LB Gerald Hodges

Before the month is out, Gerald Hodges just might visit every team in the AFC. Today, the linebacker is meeting with the Bills, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Gerald Hodges (Vertical)

Earlier this month, the 26-year-old visited the Jets, Colts, Patriots, and Jaguars. He also met with the Chiefs and Seahawks back in March. For one reason or another, the free agent is still without a deal for 2017.

The Bills’ linebacker group has already gone through some changes this year after the departures of Zach Brown and Lerentee McCray in free agency. The Bills project to start Reggie Ragland and Lorenzo Alexander at the OLB spots with Preston Brown in the middle, but the group behind them is looking a little thin. Ramon Humber and rookies Matt Milano and Tanner Vallejo figure to primarily pitch in as reserve OLBs, leaving them without a proven depth option for MLB. Hodges offers experience on the inside, so that’s presumably where he would factor in.

Hodges recorded 80 total tackles, three sacks, and two picks in 15 games (12 starts) with San Francisco last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.