Bills Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/20/19

Today’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

  • Signed: OL Erik Magnuson
  • Placed on IR: OL Garrett McGhin (ankle)

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Bills, E.J. Gaines Reach Injury Settlement

E.J. Gaines landed on the Bills’ IR list earlier this month, but the cornerback will nevertheless have a path to playing time this season. The Bills reached an injury settlement with the veteran corner to remove him from their IR list, Field Yates of tweets.

The Bills placed Gaines on IR due to a groin injury on August 10; they signed Captain Munnerlyn to effectively replace him on the roster. Once Gaines heals up, he will have a chance to sign elsewhere and play in 2019.

This was Gaines’ second Bills contract. He started 11 games with the 2017 Bills and was a first-stringer in the team’s wild-card game. Gaines signed with the Browns last season but only played in six games, landing on IR in early November. The Bills signed him to a one-year, $2.1MM deal (with $250K guaranteed) in late March.

Should the former sixth-round pick suit up in 2019, this will be his age-27 season. Gaines has made 38 career starts, 25 of those coming for the Rams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Notes: Kroft, Singletary

It looks like Bills tight end Tyler Kroft isn’t going to be ready for the start of the regular season. Buffalo signed Kroft to a three-year, $18.75MM deal back in March, and he was supposed to be their starter. He then broke his foot during OTAs, and the initial timelines had him coming back sometime right around the start of the regular season. He apparently isn’t too close to returning, as he hasn’t done any on-field work yet, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic (Twitter link). Buscaglia adds that it’s “looking more and more likely” that Kroft opens the year on the PUP list.

If he does start the season on PUP, Kroft will have to miss at least Buffalo’s first six games. That’s not welcome news for the Bills, as they don’t have a ton of experience at the position. Kroft showed some potential during his four years with the Bengals, but an injury to the same foot limited him to just five games last season. In 2017, he had 42 catches for 404 yards and seven touchdowns. Kroft’s injury may end up opening up opportunities for rookie Dawson Knox, who the Bills drafted in the third round back in April. Buffalo also has veteran Lee Smith on the roster, although he’s always been a blocker and has barely ever contributed as a receiver.

  • Speaking of Bills rookies, running back Devin Singletary seems to be developing nicely. After a visit to Bills camp and speaking with members of the organization, Albert Breer of writes that Singletary has “picked up enough to be a three-down back right away” (Twitter link). The Bills drafted Singletary, a Florida Atlantic product, 74th overall. The only thing standing in his way now is that the Bills have a crowded backfield, with Frank Gore, LeSean McCoy, and T.J. Yeldon also in tow. To that end, Breer writes that he expects Buffalo “to get trade calls” on their running backs. Over his last two seasons at FAU, Singletary rushed for 3,266 yards and a whopping 54 touchdowns.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/15/19

Today’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: TE Micky Crum, LB Christian Kuntz
  • Waived: LB J.T. Jones, CB Jermaine Ponder

Oakland Raiders

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: DT Shane Bowman
  • Placed on injured reserve: WR Bryant Mitchell

Tennessee Titans

Biggest Roster Weakness: AFC East

The 2019 regular season is right around the corner, but every NFL team still has at least one position on its roster that could use improvement. And there’s still plenty of time to address those areas of need! Free agents are readily available on the open market, while preseason trades provide another avenue of player procurement. 19 NFL trades were executed between August 1st and September 1st of 2018, and that number could increase this year.

Let’s take a look at the weakest positional group — and a potential solution — for each NFL club, starting with the AFC East:

Buffalo Bills

  • Weakness: No. 2 cornerback. 2018 undrafted free agent Levi Wallace was a success story during his rookie campaign, grading out as Pro Football Focus‘ fourth overall cornerback. That ranking comes with a small sample size caveat, however, as Wallace played only 218 coverage snaps, 112th among all NFL corners. Buffalo’s No. 2 cornerback job behind Tre’Davious White is reportedly Wallace’s to lose, according to Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic, but the Bills could be well-served to add depth.
  • Solution: Hope Wallace continues to produce, or sign Coty Sensabaugh. If the Bills want to bring in a veteran corner, Sensabaugh is probably the best available option on the market. In 10 starts for the Steelers in 2018, the 30-year-old defensive back ranked ninth among qualified corners in yards allowed per pass and 26th with a 56% success rate (meaning he was effective at stopping opposing wide receivers short of the sticks), per Football Outsiders’ charting data. Sensabaugh met with the Saints earlier this year but should come cheap.

Miami Dolphins

  • Weakness: Right side of the offensive line. Essentially any position along the Dolphins’ offensive line could stand to be improved, save for left tackle where former first-rounder Laremy Tunsil is entrenched. But right guard and right tackle are the true problem areas, with some combination of Jesse Davis, Jordan Mills, and Will Holden projected to take starting roles. Miami will have a tough time evaluating the long-term future of quarterback Josh Rosen if he’s getting destroyed on every play (see Cardinals, Arizona – 2018).
  • Solution: Sign Brandon Fusco or Jermey ParnellNow 30 years old, Fusco missed the final nine games of the 2018 campaign with an ankle injury, but he’d been relatively healthy in the three seasons prior and appeared in 46 of a possible 48 contests. Parnell, meanwhile, is a prototypical road-grading right tackle who would give the Dolphins a veteran presence. While the Jaguars and Parnell ran behind right tackle at a league-low 4.6% clip last season, they generated 5.22 adjusted line yards when doing so, the third-highest figure in the NFL, per Football Outsiders.

New England Patriots

  • Weakness: Tight end. Losing arguably the greatest tight end of all time will hurt, won’t it? After Rob Gronkowski decided to hang up his cleats, the Patriots have used half-measures to attempt to mitigate his loss. New England signed veterans Ben Watson and Lance Kendricks to one-year deals, but Watson is suspended for the first four games of the 2019 campaign and Kendricks has only topped 40 receptions twice in his eight-year career. Fellow free agent addition Matt LaCosse doesn’t have much of a track record and is currently hindered by a high-ankle sprain, and trade acquisition Eric Saubert is primarily a blocker and special-teamer.
  • Solution: Trade a conditional fourth-round pick for Cameron BrateNew Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will likely use a good deal of “11” personnel — one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers — during his first season in Tampa Bay, lessening the need for Brate behind starting tight end O.J. Howard. Brate, who would instantly become the top tight end on the Patriots’ roster, is due a fully guaranteed salary of $7MM in 2019. After this season, however, New England would hold options on Brate in each of the next four years. From 2016-17, Brate averaged 53 receptions, 625 yards, and seven touchdowns per season with the Bucs.

New York Jets

  • Weakness: Edge rusher. After ranking in the bottom-half of the league in both sacks and pressure rate in 2019, the Jets attempted to bolster their pass-rushing unit by signing Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. New York originally agreed to a deal that would have paid Barr more than $14MM annually, but the former first-round pick backed out of the deal in order to remain in Minnesota. Aside from spending a third-round pick on lottery ticket Jachai Polite, the Jets haven’t done anything to address their pass rush, leaving Brandon Copeland and Jordan Jenkins as the club’s top options on the edge.
  • Solution: Trade a late-round pick for Shane Ray (Ravens) or Haason Reddick (Cardinals). Ray is in danger of not making Baltimore’s 53-man roster, so the Jets could potentially get him for next to nothing. The 23rd overall selection in the 2015 draft, Ray posted his best campaign during his sophomore season, registering eight sacks and finishing as a top-40 edge defender with 45 pressures, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy recently. Reddick is playing under his third coordinator in three years and doesn’t have any ties to Arizona’s current coaching staff.

Bills Work Out Hau’oli Kikaha

  • Before the Bills signed defensive end Sam Acho, they also worked out former Saints second-round outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, a source tells Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter). Kikaha, the 44th overall selection in the 2015 draft, has been beset by injuries and ineffectiveness throughout his career. After playing on 62% of the Saints’ snaps during his rookie campaign, Kikaha missed the 2016 season with a torn ACL (the third of his football career) and subsequently saw action on only 209 defensive snaps the following year. New Orleans shopped Kikaha ahead of the 2017 trade deadline, and waived him during final cutdowns. Last year, he worked out for a number of clubs, but did not land a deal.

Bills Sign DE Sam Acho, Release OG Vlad Ducasse

The Bills have signed defensive end Sam Acho and have released guard Vlad Ducasse, the team announced. Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic observes that Ducasse was running with the third-stringers when all of Buffalo’s O-linemen were healthy, so he was clearly not going to make the team (Twitter link). As a veteran and former starter, the club likely wanted to give him a chance to catch on elsewhere.

Indeed, Ducasse started 21 games for the Bills over the past two seasons, but he did not fare particularly well in either campaign. Buffalo made the O-line a primary focus this offseason, and the former second-round pick of the Jets slid down the depth chart as a result. Although he has never been a top performer, another club will likely bring him in to serve as experienced depth.

Acho, meanwhile, missed most of 2018 with a pectoral injury. In 2017, he started 12 games and played on 60% of the Bears’ defensive snaps, posting 27 tackles, three sacks, and one pass defensed. Last year, he had just two tackles across four games.

After recording seven sacks in his rookie campaign in Arizona in 2011, Acho has never been able to replicate that success. He will attempt to make the Bills as a situational pass rusher after Buffalo traded Eli Harold earlier this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Place CB E.J. Gaines On IR

Bills cornerback E.J. Gaines has been placed on injured reserve due to a groin injury, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets

Gaines sustained the injury in practice and was expected to miss a few weeks initially. Following the IR designation, he will now not be eligible to return until after Week 8.

A sixth-round selection by the Rams in 2014, Gaines spent two seasons with the team before being dealt to the Bills in 2017 in the same deal that sent Sammy Watkins the other way. He played one season with the Bills before signing a one-year deal with the Browns for 2018. Following an injury-shortened campaign, the cornerback returned to the Bills for 2019 on a one-year, $3.6MM contract.

Plagued by injuries in recent years, Gaines is coming off his one season with the Browns in which he appeared in six games, including two starts, but was lost for the season after suffering two concussions in a month’s time.

After placing Gaines on IR, the Bills brought in veteran cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who is familiar with head coach Sean McDermott from their time with the Panthers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills To Sign CB Captain Munnerlyn

The Bills are expected to sign veteran cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets.

A 10-year veteran, Munnerlyn has spent seven of those seasons, including the last two, in Carolina. Before his latest stint with the Panthers, Munnerlyn played under the direction of current Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who served as the team’s defensive coordinator from 2011-16.

Following E.J. Gaines‘ placement on IR, the Bills had an open spot in the secondary. They tabbed the veteran to fill a leadership role for a young secondary.

A consistent starter between Carolina and Minnesota from 2011-14, Munnerlyn has taken on a backup role in recent campaigns. In 2018, he appeared in all 16 games, starting five, and registered one interception and nine passes defensed. In his 10-year career, Munnerlyn has logged 12 interceptions, five of which he has returned for scores.

Eagles Trade OT Ryan Bates To Bills For DE Eli Harold

We’ve got a minor trade on our hands. The Eagles are sending offensive tackle Ryan Bates to the Bills for defensive end Eli Harold, the team announced on Twitter

Bates is a rookie undrafted free agent who grew up in Philly and played his college ball at Penn State. Unfortunately, he won’t be making a regular season homecoming. It’s rare for rookie undrafted free agents to get traded, but the Bills apparently see something they like in Bates. Heading into last season, many analysts saw him as a draftable player.

The Eagles have a pretty deep group of tackles, so Bates was unlikely to make the team anyway. In return for letting him go, the Eagles will now get to take a look at some possible pass-rushing depth. Harold was originally drafted in the third round by the 49ers back in 2015, and was traded to the Lions just before the start of last season.

After spending last year in Detroit, he signed a one-year pact with Buffalo earlier this offseason. He started 24 games for the 49ers between 2016 and 2017, and he had four sacks in a rotational role with the Lions last year. All told, he has nine career sacks in 61 games and 25 starts. It’s unlikely he’ll make too big of an impact for Philly, and he’ll be battling for a roster spot these next few weeks.