Brandon Beane’s stated goal this offseason is to get young quarterback Josh Allen some help.
So far, it’s been mission accomplished for the Buffalo Bills’ general manager. Beane has been busy in the first two days of the NFL’s “legal tampering” period, agreeing to contract terms with seven different offensive players. Those deals can be made official at 4 p.m. Wednesday with the start of the league’s new year.
The most recent addition to the offense came Tuesday afternoon, when Washington offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe agreed to a two-year contract. Nsekhe's deal is for two years and is worth up to $14.5 million, with $7.7 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports. That type of contract means the Bills see him as a viable starting option, perhaps at right tackle in place of Jordan Mills, who was not re-signed ahead of free agency.
Nsekhe has been something of a super sub for the Redskins in recent years, serving as the team's swing tackle. He's started 16 games over the past four years, but appeared in 54. Even though he'll turn 34 during the 2019 season, he doesn't have a lot of NFL mileage, playing just 1,285 offensive snaps the last four years. More than 1,000 of those have come at tackle, although Nsekhe has also taken more than 200 snaps at guard, giving the Bills some versatility.
Analytics website Pro Football Focus has had good reviews of Nsekhe's work, giving him a pass-blocking grade of 76.4 and a run-blocking grade of 70.7 over the past four years. In 249 pass-blocking snaps in 2018, PFF charged Nsekhe with allowing one sack, three quarterback hits and seven quarterback hurries. He’s allowed 49 pressures in 753 pass-blocking snaps the last four years.
Nsekhe’s journey to a potential starting job in the NFL has been a long one. He went undrafted out of Texas State, signing to play with the Corpus Christi Sharks of the AF2 (arena football) in 2009. After bouncing around the Arena Football League, his first NFL opportunity came in 2012, when he was signed by the Indianapolis Colts. He was released at final cuts, but claimed by the St. Louis Rams, appearing in two games before being released.
Nsekhe also had a stop in the Canadian Football League with Montreal before he finally established himself as an NFL player in Washington.
Nsekhe and Feliciano becomee the Bills' seventh and eighth offensive additions this offseason, joining center Mitch Morse, receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley, tight end Tyler Kroft, running back Frank Gore and offensive lineman Spencer Long.
While most of the Bills’ focus has been on building up their offense, the team has made one move to add defense. That came Tuesday, when cornerback Kevin Johnson was officially introduced as the newest member of the secondary. Johnson was eligible to be signed ahead of the league year because he was released last week by the Houston Texans.
“It’s a team on the rise,” Johnson said on a conference call with the Western New York media, addressing why he decided to join the Bills. “Guys are looking forward to coming out here and being a part of this culture. ... They've got a good one in place, and like I am, I'm sure the other guys are ready to come in here and work.”
Johnson, 26, is a former first-round draft pick of the Texans in 2015. He appeared in just 35 games over the past four seasons, as injuries derailed his career. That included appearing in just one game in 2018 after suffering two concussions. He said his injuries are behind him, and it’s worth noting the Texans would not have been able to release him unless he was healthy, because the fifth-year option they originally picked up is guaranteed for injury only.
“All that stuff is behind me,” he said. “Obviously, as you know, I had bumps in the road as far as injuries were concerned, but I'm feeling healthy and all those things are behind me. I learned from those things, and it made me a better person and player. I'm just ready to push forward in the future. I'm excited about it.”
Asked what he learned about himself the past four years, Johnson said, “I learned that I don't got any quit in me. I went through a lot of things, just adversity as far as dealing with injuries. Every time, I came back strong from it. Although I got hurt again after that, I still have my confidence that I had when I came into the NFL.”
Johnson, who has 128 tackles, 14 passes defensed and one interception in his four seasons, is also happy to be reunited with John Butler, the Bills’ defensive backs coach. Butler had the same job with the Texans during Johnson’s first three seasons.
“With him being here, that was a good thing for me because I know he's a great DB coach,” Johnson said. “Leslie Frazier's a great defensive coordinator. Coach McDermott, the head coach, is a great coach as well. For me to be able to come into that situation, with three great coaches in place, it was a great thing for me.”
Johnson might not be the Bills’ only defensive addition for long. According to a report Tuesday from NFL Network, the Bills will host former Lions edge rusher Ziggy Ansah on a free-agent visit.
Ansah, 29, played in just seven games for the Lions in 2018 before being shut down because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. The former fifth overall draft pick in 2013 has 48 career sacks in 80 games. He’s recorded seven or more sacks in four of his six seasons.
If healthy, he’d provide a boost for a Bills pass rush that ranked 26th in the NFL in 2018 with 36 sacks.
Ansah also has a visit scheduled with the Saints, according to the report.