Unrestricted free agency opens in the NFL with the start of the new league year on March 9. With 22 players set to hit the open market, the Buffalo Bills have plenty of decisions to make between now and then. The Buffalo News will take a look at each player with an expiring contract, and offer a verdict on what the team should do. Next: Percy Harvin.
Position: Safety. Age: 27. 2016 stats: 10 games (two starts), 35 tackles.
Working in his favor: Before he got hurt, Blanton had taken over as a starting safety after Aaron Williams got hurt. The revolving door at the position, along with the uncertainty over Williams' playing future, could make room for Blanton's return. He's also a valuable special teams contributor, which is an important factor for a reserve player. In the Week Seven game against Miami, Blanton made three special-teams tackles.
Working against him: In Blanton's limited time as a starter, he did little to distinguish himself. He failed to record a sack, forced fumble, interception or pass defensed. He particularly struggled in coverage during a Week Nine loss to the Seattle Seahawks, then was lost for the season in Buffalo's next game when he suffered a foot injury.
Verdict: Blanton contributed to the problems at safety after Williams got hurt instead of solving them. If special teams coordinator Danny Crossman can make a convincing case for Blanton to be brought back, the Bills should be able to re-sign him for a contract close to the veteran minimum. If he's looking for anything more, the team should move on.