Jay Skurski's 3 Bills thoughts: Team's new PR campaign, battle at right tackle, who should get paid next? - The Buffalo News
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Jay Skurski's 3 Bills thoughts: Team's new PR campaign, battle at right tackle, who should get paid next?

1. First it was "all in," the hokey, uninspired new slogan of the Buffalo Bills that was force-fed to fans as a way of showing them "this year will be different, we promise." Now, the team's PR machine has turned its attention to how much winning the team's first three draft picks did in college. Sure, Clemson's Shaq Lawson, Alabama's Reggie Ragland and Ohio State's Adolphus Washington come from elite college programs that have reached the highest level of the sport, with the latter two winning national championships. That's great. I'm sure they do have an expectation to win that they'll bring with them to the Bills' locker room. But so did EJ Manuel when he came to the Bills from Florida State in 2013. So did Cyrus Kouandjio when he left Alabama in 2014. During Kouandjio's three years with the Crimson Tide, the team went 36-4 and won two national championships. Manuel and Kouandjio brought the same expectation of winning to the NFL that Lawson, Ragland and Washington will. It's nice to have, but it's far, far more important that the Bills' top three draft picks this season can actually get it done on the field.

2. Speaking of Kouandjio, the analytics website Football Outsiders recently identified right tackle as the biggest weakness on the team's roster. It's hard to argue with that. Kouandjio has been a bust, Seantrel Henderson's playing status is uncertain as he battles Crohn's disease and Jordan Mills is a mid-season acquisition who ended up playing more than 30 percent of the team's snaps. He's likely to be the starter again this year unless the light bulb goes on for Kouandjio or Henderson returns to full health. The Bills elected not to draft an offensive lineman this year, and failed to reach a contract agreement with Matt Slauson, who visited the team last week. Unless there is another wave of free agency to explore after June 1, the Bills appear to be content to let the three players mentioned go to training camp and compete for the job. It's the right approach. Not every position in the NFL is going to be filled with a Pro Bowler. The Bills simply need average play from their right tackle. Holding a three-man competition will hopefully elevate the performance of each of the candidates to that level.

3. Cordy Glenn's recent contract extension leaves the Bills with quarterback Tyrod Taylor and cornerback Stephon Gilmore as key players heading into the final season of their respective contracts. If I was General Manager Doug Whaley, my priority would be on getting an extension done first with Gilmore. He's proven himself more than Taylor in the NFL, and the price of an elite cornerback in the league continues to rise. Gilmore might not be that just yet, but he's close, and if he does get there, it's going to cost even more to re-sign him next year. I also wouldn't want to take the chance on having both of them reach unrestricted free agency, because the franchise tag only guarantees me being able to keep one. Re-signing Gilmore now takes any need to choose between the two out of the equation. Regarding Taylor, the Bills are correct in wanting to see him do more before signing him to a big-money deal. Sure, the cost of doing so could rise if he takes the next step of getting the team to the playoffs, but quarterback money is insane, anyway. Whaley better be as sure as possible on Taylor before handing it out.

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