Free Agency – 10 Things I Think

Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)

Okay, here’s something for you beat up while you’re waiting for the draft to begin. A friend of mine sent me the following, which apparently appeared in the Sporting News:

“Teams That Handled Free Agency WORST”: BILLS – They re-signed Marcus Stroud and added WR Terrell Owens (is that a plus?). But they lost versatile LB Angelo Crowell and Gs Derrick Dockery and Duke Preston,and had to trade Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters when they couldn’t re-sign him. Buffalo also let solid CB Jabari Greer go and replaced him with Drayton Florence, who was a free-agent bust with Jacksonville in 2008. “

Here are 10 things I think about that:

1. The friggin press makes up this stuff. If you look around, you’ll find some other guy – I’ve seen it somewhere – who said the Bills had one of the BEST free agent periods. In fact, I think they did okay. Not great, but okay.

2. A lot of what he’s talking about isn’t free agency. They CUT Dockery, he wasn’t a free agent. Stroud wasn’t a free agent. The guy can’t even get the basic facts right.

3. Marcus Stroud – He wasn’t a free agent. I think they promised Marcus they’d redo his deal when they acquired him in a trade last year. He had a good year, he’s a good player, and resigning players is something teams do all the time. What’s wrong with keeping your good players happy and extending their contracts?

4. WR Terrell Owens. Okay, we can argue this all day. I’m still not thrilled with it. I think he’ll be a big plus in the offense, but maybe not. If he is, he’ll be gone in a year, and then they still have a hole. But if last year’s second round pick, James Hardy, develops properly, then having Owens for one year is perfect. So it isn’t a terrible move, it won’t hurt. It just doesn’t build long-term strength.

5. Versatile LB Angelo Crowell. Yes, the guy was a good player. The Bills gave up on him last year when they more or less pleaded with him all off-season to have knee surgery, and he refused. When September came, he said his knee wasn’t well enough to play and had surgery. Stupid move on his part. Bills probably overreacted by putting him on IR (he could have played later in the season), but they decided he wasn’t committed to the team.

6. Derrick Dockery. The Bills cut him. He was a free agent mistake the year before. He played pretty well for a while. Last season he was terrible. Maybe the worst guard in the conference. He had a big contract. So this was in part a cap move. And what’s wrong with admitting your mistakes and cutting your losses? Oh, and our author doesn’t mention the Bills signed Seth McKinney, a part-time guard for the Browns last season. So they brought in someone with some prospects to compete for a the job of a guy who was more or less a total failure.

7. Duke Preston. Duke had been on the team for four years, never really succeeded. Played decently at center for the last half of last season. Bills decided they needed an upgrade. What the Bills did was leave him unsigned until free agency opened. Then the Bills signed the only good free agent center, Hangartner. Once they signed him, Preston was completely expendable. The Bills also let their other center go, same reason. No one has signed the other guy. Green Bay just signed Preston to an unremarkable contract. So why exactly is it a mistake to let someone go that no one else in the league is hot to sign, while you sign a better player on the first day of free agency?

8. Had to trade Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters when they couldn’t re-sign him. Yes, they did. And when you read the better articles on the subject, you’ll understand why. Everyone in the league agrees this guy is among the most, if not the most, talented offensive tackles. He has incredible talent.

Everyone in the league also has serious questions about whether he has the heart to play at the level he’s able to. He clearly cares about the money. He admitted that when he missed blocks last year, his attitude was “well, they’re not paying enough, so I don’t really care that I missed it.” He didn’t know he gave up 10-13 sacks in 13 games last season. You want that guy to be your premier LT?

You know how you can tell the entire league had questions? If the guy was certifiably as good as he thinks, the Bills would have gotten two first round picks for him, or a first and a second. The fact is the Bills couldn’t get more than a late first and a fourth, and no one else was in the bidding. Peters may turn out to be great.

If I had to bet, I’d bet he’ll turn out to be erratic. There’s something about him that makes him a big questionmark.

9. Let solid CB Jabari Greer go and replaced him with Drayton Florence. Total ignorance of the situation. First, when Greer got hurt last year, the Bills inserted last year’s first round pick, Leodis McKelvin, who by the end of the season looked like a lights-out, shut-down corner. Second, since McKelvin is clearly a starter (and Drayton was signed purely as training camp fodder, not to replace Greer), the Bills either had to sign Greer or next season let their other corner, Terence McGee go. It was either Greer or McGee. Greer was going to command pretty big dollars, and they were big dollars this year, not next year. McGee is very good, McKelvin looks like a star, Youboty is back, and the Bills had another good rookie corner last season. They’re set at corner. No brainer.

10. I am no apologist for the Bills. They do a lot of stupid stuff. Peters was mismanaged, despite my doubts about him. But this stuff from Sporting News is nonsense, and anyone who knows the Bills knows that. Problem is, 95% of the readers don’t follow the Bills, so it makes sense to them.

Let’s go BILLS!!!!