Notable Free Agents: WR Stevie Johnson, TE Scott Chandler, LB Kirk Morrison
The Bills took a step toward greatness (or at least decency) Monday by signing Johnson to a five-year $36.25 million contract. Johnson isn’t on the same level as, say, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald or Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (no relation), but Stevie Johnson is a top 15 receiver and the Bills need him desperately to open up the field on offense. They have a one-two punch at RB with Fred Jackson and scatback C.J. Spiller and a smart QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now all they need is a front seven on defense.
The D was ranked 28th in the league in stopping the run and they have had horrible luck drafting and signing players that were supposed to help. They signed LB Kirk Morrison (who averaged well over 100 tackles a year before 2011) last year to help a terrible linebacker corp. Their reward? Morrison tallied a whopping seven tackles in 14 games. That’s like signing WR Randy Moss, expecting a 1500 yard season and getting 15 yards. They also signed San Diego washout (and former Defensive Player of the Year) LB Shawne Merriman (nine tackles in five games).
There were two bright spots, however. They did decently drafting DT Marcell Dareus last year. Dareus played every game and recorded 5.5 sacks and 43 tackles on this anemic defense. It’s especially welcoming for a Bills team that just two years earlier drafted quite possibly one of the biggest 1st round busts in history; LB Aaron Maybin, who (in two full years with the team) registered an astounding 24 tackles in 27 games. Yep. The 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft averaged less than one tackle a game and sacked the QB exactly zero times. That’s flat-out embarrassing for Maybin and the Bills.
The Bills also signed LB Nick Barnett last year and he rewarded them with a stellar year: 130 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions.
So how should the Bills draft? They need more help up front. Dareus and Barnett can’t do it all. Adding pressure on the opposing QB will help the secondary (led by CB Jarius Byrd) and their deceptively good pass defense. At the #10 slot, the Bills should be able to get a DT like Dontari Poe or Michael Brockers or a DE like Quinton Coples or Melvin Ingram. Regardless, there will be players to help the front seven for the Bills. I just hope they choose wisely.
On the Clock: Kansas City Chiefs (Pick #11)