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Vic Carucci's Bills Mailbag: About Watkins, adding to ownership's voice and backfield-depth questions

You have Buffalo Bills questions that you've submitted to me via Twitter @viccarucci.

I have answers:

@Tsauce88: Do you think Sammy Watkins gets extension offer during the season if he's healthy and producing at high level? Or, wait until seasons end/tag?

VC: I think it's more likely that, if Watkins were to stay healthy and perform well enough for the Bills to be inclined to give him an extension offer or franchise tag, they would wait until after the season to so.

And even then, I'd have my doubts about how motivated they would truly be to make such a move. Watkins proving he could remain in one piece for a full year might be viewed as a significant accomplishment in the context of his lengthy list of injuries.

But it still would only be one out of four seasons.

I also don't see a huge investment in a wide receiver fitting Sean McDermott's big-picture vision of what he wants the roster to look like. Figuring out whether he has a long-term solution at quarterback is the much bigger question in the passing game that would need to be answered before determining what to do with Watkins.

@mclennon99: Has McDermott hinted at who the Bills might have drafted at # 10 had they not traded down?

VC: Not that I'm aware.

I had long been operating under the firm belief the Bills were going to trade down, as they did, and wrote as much on multiple occasions before the draft.

For discussion's sake, I speculated that if the Bills kept the pick, they would likely go for a cornerback because I was convinced they viewed that as their top need. By doing so 17 picks later, they addressed the need and picked up a first-round choice in 2018.

It was a maneuver that, at least for now, looks to have greater potential to be more valuable in the long run than what they could have done by staying put.

@Jmann21: Can you honestly say that Jay Cutler wouldn't be the best QB on the #Bills roster right now?

VC: Probably not, but don't mistake that for an endorsement that the Bills should sign him.

With Tyrod Taylor, the Bills still have a better quarterback situation than many other teams in the NFL. That doesn't say a whole lot for the rest of the league, of course, but here's what it does say: You have QB-needy teams almost everywhere, and yet none of them has seen fit to sign Cutler.

He's talented, yes, and I would say a better passer than Taylor and others. But he struggles to stay healthy and he's a pain in the butt to have on the roster. If somebody really wanted to sign the guy, he would have a job by now. The fact he doesn't speaks volumes.

So does his pursuit of the broadcasting gig he landed with Fox.

@LouSperanza: As Terry Pegula constantly refers to Kim re decision-making process why isn't she out there in front of media too? Fans need to know her expertise.

VC: I agree that Kim Pegula would be capable of serving as spokesperson for ownership of both the Bills and Sabres, along with her husband. My perception is that she doesn't particularly enjoy being in front of cameras and microphones, and I respect that.

Still, I've had the chance to interview her on a couple of occasions, and found her to be extremely engaging and insightful. I believe she has a strong grasp of all aspects of the teams rather than only the sides with which she deals the most, marketing and sales. She might not offer much in the way of inside-the-game perspectives, but most owners don't offer that. That's what they pay their coaches and general managers to do.

However, if Kim were to be so inclined, it would be nice on occasion to hear from someone who does have a significant voice in all that the franchises do, especially when her husband points that out at every turn.

@davidcieslinski: What should we expect out of 2017? Rebuilding from here, playoff push to end streak, starting over? Not much confidence from this fan.

VC: It has more of a feel of a rebuild and hitting of the reset button than anything else.

McDermott is instituting an all-out systemic and cultural upheaval, and the desired results tend not to show themselves all that quickly. There's a cleansing out of what was left behind by the previous regime that will happen over the course of at least a couple of seasons, with newer pieces being put in place.

In other words, they're asking you to be patient.

@racedogmom: Are you concerned about the lack of a backup RB, with only Jonathan Williams a viable option?

VC: Yes. There's no getting around that Mike Gillislee was a big loss. Neither Williams nor anyone else on the roster matches the type of production he provided.

The fact LeSean McCoy is 29 and entering his ninth season shouldn't be the least bit comforting. The Bills will absolutely need to lean on others for small, and perhaps even large, chunks of their running game.

Williams has plenty to prove. Whether the fullbacks, Mike Tolbert and Patrick DiMarco, can contribute in any meaningful way is unknown, but it is what offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will look to incorporate.

@0NickyFlash0: Will LB be a liability this year, or will the guys on roster fit in McDs system? Free agents to fill void?

VC: I think it's fair to question just how set the Bills are at linebacker.

There just seems to be a lot of unknowns about whether any of the incumbents who are the strongest candidates to start, or challenge to do so, will fit the new 4-3, zone-based scheme.

Lorenzo Alexander's experience is a plus, but the Bills might very well have caught lightning in a bottle with his amazing Pro Bowl season in 2016 -- in Rex Ryan's defense.

Reggie Ragland, who missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury, was drafted last year exclusively to Ryan's scheme. He doesn't have the ideal speed or quickness that McDermott's defense requires.

Preston Brown could very well go from starter to off the team. At this point, ninth-year veteran Ramon Humber, signed as a free agent last year, has a better shot at starting.

@Pmasterpalo: Why are we not trying to add Aaron Williams back if he is going to play?

VC: Because the Bills parted ways with him due to serious doubts about his ability to return from his serious neck issues. Those doubts haven't subsided simply because another team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, decided to have him in for a visit.

Plus, they believe the free-agent signings of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer have them covered at safety.

@williamkevin24: If Watkins can mend to an impact level and concerning his drama profile in Buf what would b chance they could deal him this yr?

VC: Probably none. What would be the motivation of another team to trade for a guy who could very well be signed as a free agent after the season?

@soakes149: Your thoughts on Chris Polian as GM and could Nathan Peterman be the day 1 starter? Thanks #Bills

VC: I think he'd be a terrific choice. His experience as part of the highly successful roster building that he and his father, Bill, did in Indianapolis would figure to help McDermott in more ways than one.

Although I wouldn't rule out Peterman starting from the first game of the season, I'm not expecting it. I think he'll need a minimum of a year of watching as a backup before he's seen as a credible challenger for the No. 1 spot.

What I do expect is he'll beat out Cardale Jones for the third-string job and, perhaps, give a decent push to T.J. Yates for the No. 2 job.

@georgieDaws1: Why did Ralph Wilson get a free pass since super bowls. Honeymoon should have ended in 1999?

VC: I'm not sure about what "free pass" you're referencing. I think Wilson took his share of hits, along with the entire organization, as the playoff drought grew after the '99 season.

Along the way, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And deservedly so. That wasn't a free pass. It was a recognition of many years of strong contribution to the NFL and a keen sense of what was good for the league was good for all of its teams, including small-market clubs like the one he founded.

That came through loud and clear with Wilson's proper objection to a collective bargaining agreement in 2006 that he knew wouldn't work and from which owners unanimously voted opt out in 2008.

@jasul22: Is Bill Polian advising the Pegulas in any way? If not, why wouldn't they ask for his advice? He is one of the best personal guy in the business.

VC: The last I checked on this, they weren't seeking his direct input.

@kevinleters: Logan Thomas real prospect?

VC: Not real enough to discourage the Bills from seeking to upgrade their depth, although I don't know how realistic it is to do that between now and the start of the season.

@ByRichKowalski: Do you think Brett Veach is a more viable option than Brandon Beane? Who would stick to the one vision approach more?

VC: I think they're both pretty well indoctrinated to McDermott's philosophy. Whoever takes the job goes in knowing it is the coach's show.

@Gilodelic_: How difficult is going to be for the next GM, whoever it going to be, to assemble the scouting department and if you think they will go with a younger and different approach there? thanks in advance and Go Bills from México!

VC: I don't think it will be particularly difficult to put together a scouting department. There are plenty of young, aspiring scouts, so they aren't hard to find.

With scouting, the best approach usually is to find people who are willing and eager to learn your structure and especially the core elements of what you're seeking from each player and each position.

I also think that it is of the utmost importance to McDermott and will be equally vital to the next GM (or whatever his title ends up being) that scouts do exceptional detective work, that he found out as much background information as they can on every prospect. That's a bigger part of the job now than ever before and far more challenging than determining whether a player has the physical attributes necessary to play in the NFL.

@Frankpropis: Do you think the defense is the biggest factor of what our record will be? Offense looks pretty set in my opinion.

VC: It stands to reason that improving the defense that ranked 19th in the NFL the past two seasons would be the biggest factor in whether the Bills are able to turn around their fortunes. I would agree there are more questions on that side of the ball than on offense.

But to say that any part of the team is "pretty set" seems like a bit of an overstatement.

@brendandimitri: How was writing a book with Wade Phillips? Seems like a genuinely nice guy. Did you know him previously or did he seek you out based on TBN?

VC: It was a blast. Wade is as he seems -- easy going and fun to be around.

He has a great, dry sense of humor. He doesn't take himself or the game too seriously, which is refreshing.

I knew him before he arrived in Buffalo in 1995, but got to know him much better while covering him for most of his first six seasons with the team. We had pretty regular contact since then, and after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50, Wade and his agent talked with me about the possibility of helping him write the book.

I saw it as a natural. And it was.

@STEVEWIBLE: No hope for Cardale Jones?

VC: See my answer to the above question about Peterman.

@TheRealSeanK: Will McDermott have a huge say in who's hired as gm?

VC: Absolutely.

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