1. ESPN’s Mike Rodak published an interesting idea last week about how the Buffalo Bills can acquire an extra third-round draft pick in 2018.
To do so, the team would have to make what would look to be a curious move on the surface — releasing three of the seven qualifying unrestricted free agents this season by Week 10. That would give them a net loss of qualified free agents, and put them in line to receive a compensatory selection in the third round to make up for the loss of cornerback Stephon Gilmore to New England.
It was borderline reckless of the Bills to lose Gilmore without ensuring they would get a third-round pick in return. For a rebuilding franchise — which is what the Bills are with a new coaching staff, whether they care to admit it — having another top-100 draft pick would be valuable.
According to the website overthecap.com, which tracks projected compensatory picks through a cancellation chart, the seven qualified players the Bills signed are safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, kicker Stephen Hauschka, fullback Patrick DiMarco, wide receiver Andre Holmes, offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse and defensive end Ryan Davis.
The problem for the Bills, and this could be where they mismanaged the situation, is that only five of the 20-plus unrestricted free agents they had going into this offseason signed deals elsewhere — Gilmore, wide receiver Robert Woods, linebacker Lerentee McCray, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and linebacker Zach Brown. It’s quite possible they expected some of their other free agents to sign deals elsewhere.
While it might look odd on the surface to replace so many players signed as a free agents this offseason, it would be worth it. It’s not like those players would necessarily be gone for good, either. Let’s say the Bills release Ducasse, Davis and Holmes before Week One. They would carry some dead money on the salary cap and potentially lose those players to other teams, but if they didn’t sign elsewhere, the Bills could simply bring them back in Week Two, which is exactly what they did in 2016 with fullback Jerome Felton. And if they do sign elsewhere? Oh well. A third-round pick is probably worth it.
It would be an admission of a mistake that the team risked losing the third-round pick Gilmore should have netted them in the first place, but that would be a refreshing change of pace for a team that has far too long doubled down on its mistakes (drafting Sammy Watkins for EJ Manuel, anyone?).
As Rodak points out, the Bills might also be able to add a fourth-round pick by releasing a fourth qualified player, given the team Woods signed with the Rams.
Assuming Hyde and Poyer are safe as the starting safeties, that would come down to DiMarco or Hauschka. Perphaps undrafted free agent Austin Rehkow can handle kicking duties for a week and Hauschka is released.
Either way, it’s an interesting idea, and one the Bills would be wise to put into action.
2. The analytics website Pro Football Focus catches plenty of scorn from people, for sometimes valid reasons. Its method of grading players isn’t for everyone, and as I’ve always said, unless a person knows the play callled and responsibility involved, grading a player is difficult and possibly unfair.
That being said, it’s troubling for the Bills that on a list of the 25 best players in the NFL under the age of 25, the team was shut out. On subsequent lists broken down by offense and defense of the best players at each position under that age, the Bills had just one representative in cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
It’s a sign of how much work General Manager Brandon Beane has in front of him in adding cost-controlled talent to the roster.
3. It’s a couple days after Memorial Day now, so this is a good time for an annual reminder – the Buffalo Bills need to retire Bob Kalsu's No. 61. The only U.S. pro athlete to die in the Vietnam War, Kelsu's ultimate sacrifice should be recognized by the team with more than just a spot on its Wall of Fame.
An All-American tackle at Oklahoma, Kalsu left the Bills after his rookie season to fight in the war. He is a true American hero.