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Bills Mailbag: What might Brandon Beane do at the upcoming trade deadline?

Bills Mailbag: What might Brandon Beane do at the upcoming trade deadline?

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Bills General Manager Brandon Beane has some decisions to make in regards to the upcoming NFL trade deadline.

The Buffalo Bills might have a bye week, but the Mailbag never takes a break. Therefore, let’s get right to your questions.

TNFP69 asks: Can you see this management making any moves before the trade deadline? Example: Moving some higher-priced, older players because our young guns are playing at a high level at this point of the season.

Kevin Thompson asks: Seems to be a lot of chatter about other teams calling the Bills about a trade for an edge rusher. Should they consider this? If so, who would you trade?

Tony Valvo asks: With such a deep roster, what if any moves do you see the Bills making at the trade deadline?

Jay: General Manager Brandon Beane has not been shy about making trades if he feels it will improve his roster. With that in mind, it’s certainly possible Beane could be active at the trade deadline, which this year comes Nov. 2. Of course, any move has to fit under the salary cap, which could be an issue. As of Saturday morning, the Bills had just a little more than $4 million in cap space, according to records kept by the NFL Players’ Association. The Bills could free up space by sending a player out in a trade, but given that this team has eyes on making a Super Bowl run, it doesn’t seem likely Beane would be interested in subtracting from the roster. With just one game to play before the deadline because of the bye in Week 7, the Bills have no obvious holes on the roster that need to be filled. Depth at outside cornerback continues to look less than ideal to me, but it’s not a drastic need. If I had to bet one way or the other, I’d wager the Bills stand pat, which is true for most of the league at the deadline, anyway.

Jeff Cooke asks: University of Miami coach Manny Diaz said on draft day that Greg Rousseau was the "steal" of the draft. Did you share this same opinion knowing he did not compete last year due to Covid?

Jay: Truthfully, I didn’t know enough about Rousseau to share a similar opinion. My reaction to the Rousseau pick was simple: That makes sense. We knew going into the offseason the Bills wanted to upgrade their pass rush. They didn’t do that in free agency, so the last, best way to do that was with an early pick in the draft. In hindsight, Rousseau fit the “steal” profile well. He had just one season of big-time college production, then opted out last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s very early in his career, but it’s not hard to look at Rousseau’s production thus far as the 30th overall pick and think had he played last year, it’s unlikely he would have lasted that long.

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Richard S. asks: Realizing that opinions can change during the season, for the Bills’ upcoming unrestricted free agents, can you categorize into “must keep,” “nice to keep” and “wouldn’t try hard to keep?”

Jay: After signing Taron Johnson to a contract extension last week, the Bills have 15 pending unrestricted free agents. Only one of them falls into the “must keep” category for me – cornerback Levi Wallace. He shouldn’t break the bank, and if he leaves, the Bills have a big hole in the starting lineup with no obvious replacement. The “nice to keep” category is loaded, leading with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. He’d be a “must keep” for me, although he turns 35 in March, so it remains to be seen how long Sanders wants to play. If he’s interested in returning, I’d be interested in having him back, because he’s been a great fit. I'd also advocate signing him to a 10-year contract, just so us media members can keep talking to him every week – he's that good of a quote.

After that, I’d include the following in the same category: quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (probably unlikely if he wants to chase a potential starting job); guard Ike Boettger (good depth); wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (solid returner and slot option); defensive tackle Justin Zimmer (plays hard all the time); defensive tackle Harrison Phillips; cornerback Siran Neal and running back Taiwan Jones (both great gunners on special teams); and long snapper Reid Ferguson (good at his job).

The “wouldn’t try hard to keep” category includes veteran defensive ends Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison. It’s clear the Bills have a succession plan in place after drafting Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham. Vernon Butler Jr. and Efe Obada are also on that list.

Matt Corey asks: Will the Bills do more screen passes? What defensive lineman ends up with the most sacks this year? Who has more touchdown catches: Cole Beasley or Gabriel Davis? Can we wear red jerseys and white pants instead of the all-red Kool-Aid look?

Jay: Way to get your money’s worth with the Mailbag, Matt. Let’s go through these one by one. Maybe. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll says every week the team will do what it thinks is best to win that specific game. Running backs Devin Singletary and Zack Moss are quality receivers out of the backfield, so the potential is there to run more screens. I’ll take the chalk on sacks and pick Rousseau, who currently leads the team in that category with three. Beasley will finish with more touchdown catches than Davis, mostly because Sanders’ presence has drastically reduced Davis’ role. I tend to agree Beasley’s chances will come. As for the uniforms, I don’t make those rules, but I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t wear that look. Hopefully, whoever does make that decision is a faithful Mailbag reader.

Dale Zuchlewski asks: Which past Bills draft-bust quarterback do you think would have been successful if coached by Sean McDermott and Brian Daboll?

Jay: Fun question. If we’re limiting it to draft busts only, two names immediately come to mind: J.P. Losman and E.J. Manuel. As first-round draft picks, they had higher expectations of them than, say, Trent Edwards, who was a third-round pick. I’d pick Losman. It would be interesting to see if Daboll could mold Losman’s physical tools into something more. Some of the perceived negatives about Josh Allen coming into the NFL – centering on his accuracy and mechanics – were the same ones Losman was thought to have when the Bills made him a first-round draft pick in 2003.

bk asks: Jon Gruden has already been removed from the ring of honor in Tampa. Shouldn’t O.J. Simpson be removed from ours? I know Ralph Wilson wouldn’t do it, but he really should not be up there.

Jay: Team owners Terry and Kim Pegula had their chance to do that when they took over the team in 2014. Instead, they stuck with the status quo. In doing so, they answered the question of whether they’re OK with Simpson being honored inside Highmark Stadium. If Simpson’s name were to be removed, the logical question would be, “Why now?” The next logical chance to do so would be when a new stadium opens. The Bills have a chance then to completely redo how the Wall of Fame is presented. If Simpson's name just so happened not to make its way up in a new stadium, would anybody be surprised?

EBF, Inc. asks: Sean McDermott has certainly proven himself to be the type of coach that resonates with the team and fan base. Which NFL coach past or present has coached with a similar style/demeanor in your opinion?

Jay: Not just because they were college teammates at William and Mary, but McDermott’s style seems to compare well to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Both are no-nonsense guys who have the respect of their players. They also seem to have a good understanding of what their respective teams mean to their communities. If McDermott can have the type of career Tomlin has had with the Steelers, Bills fans will be very happy.

Brenda Alesii asks: Watching the Bills commit eight penalties in the Titans game, I thought of Marv Levy’s mantra, “Don’t play dumb and don’t play dirty.” Two TDs were wiped out, including Isaiah McKenzie’s 101-yard kickoff return. Two questions: Why do penalties continue to plague the Bills and will Andre Smith be cut since he committed an unnecessary foul after McKenzie had already barreled past him? Or will he at least be removed from the special teams unit?

Jay: I thought I was tough on them, Brenda. No, they’re not going to cut Smith because of that penalty, and they’re also not going to remove him from special teams, because that’s the reason he’s on the roster. As for the penalties, the Bills ranked tied for ninth in most penalties called against, with 40 through six games, although one of the teams ahead of them – Cleveland – has already played seven games. There is no question that total is higher than McDermott would prefer. As for what can be done, unfortunately, the answer seems to be “not much.” The Bills ranked fourth, seventh and eighth, respectively, the past three seasons in penalties taken, so this has become the norm.

Dennis Priore asks: After Josh Allen failed to get the first down at the end of the game Monday night, Ryan Tannehill takes the knee in the victory formation with 21 seconds left. Has this ever happened: A team in the situation that the Bills were in sent the house, rushing all 11 with the intention of causing a fumble which could lead to a turnover or possible touchdown in the end zone?

Jay: One very good way to start a fight at the end of a football game is to break one of the NFL’s unwritten rules: Rushing during the victory formation is a no-no. Back in the day, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano tried such a move against the Giants in 2012 and the talking heads on ESPN nearly exploded. Schiano was accused of “not respecting the game,” even if a turnover in that situation was his only chance of winning. The unwritten rules are only one reason why teams don’t go after the snap more often, though. The bigger reason is it simply doesn’t work. It takes basically no time for the center to snap the ball to the quarterback, who then takes a knee. It doesn’t matter if 20 defensive players rushed at the same time – the quarterback is still going to be able to give himself up before they get there.

You can submit questions to the Mailbag by email at or Twitter at @JaySkurski.

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News Sports Reporter

I started at The Buffalo News in 2009, and have previously been honored as one of the top 10 beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors for my coverage of the Bills. I live in Amherst with my wife, Melissa, and son, Elliott.

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