With the Free Agency period opening on Tuesday at 4pm its time to take a look at what we would do as we continue our Be The GM series with our Shopping List. We have gone through every available FA this year and begun to evaluate what we need versus what’s available. Below is a list of seven free agents we would target once that period opens on Tuesday.
QB Josh Johnson-Tampa Bay
Let’s be completely honest with ourselves for the moment. Nobody here wants to ever see Tyler Thigpen trot onto that field again unless we are up by about 50 points. His performance last year left plenty to be desired and despite Gailey’s previous success with him he’s not a reliable backup and he’s not going to develop into anything more than a marginal NFL player. So why not bring in Josh Johnson who has some upside left, he has started some for Tampa Bay when Josh Freeman was out and he’s still that tall, athletic style of QB that Gailey likes to employ. He should be a rather cheap acquisition in the grand scheme and he should provide fans with more confidence in his ability should Fitzpatrick falter or get injured.
Johnson is a big, athletic QB who has a nice arm and fits the mold of what Gailey is looking for. Like we stated above he has seen some starts during his career and has had mixed results. Johnson has thrown for 1,042 yards with 5 TD’s and 10 INT’s, he also has completed 57.7% of his passes. You want to see that completion percentage climb some more and the INT’s come down but he’s still a young QB (25 years old) who is still learning how to be a NFL QB. He’d be a cheap signing with relatively no risk.
RB Tim Hightower-Washington
We’ve liked Hightower since he came out of Richmond and he’s the exact kind of RB we need and thought we were getting in Tashard Choice. We have great speed in Spiller, great overall running in Jackson, but no back on this team right now can move the pile on 3rd and short or near the goal line. You ask the offensive line to do a lot if every time you’re in a short yardage situation they have to make sure they blow a hole open because you don’t have a back who can run with power and fall forward for 2-3 extra yards and a big first down.
Hightower has a nice thick build with above average speed and a big lower body. He does a good job continuing to chop his legs through contact and almost always falls forward. He’s not ever going to be a feature back in an offense but he could be a great compliment for the next few years and give us a really good three headed monster.
WR Early Doucet-Arizona
There is no great secret that the Bills badly need a number two WR to play opposite the newly minted Steve Johnson. Doucet could be that perfect compliment. He is not the deep speed burner that many want us to grab we expect the Bills to grab that through the draft and take a look at what Easley could possibly, finally, give us. What Doucet offers though could be just as important.
Doucet thrives when defenses give him single coverage in an effort to take away the other teams top WR. Working with Larry Fitzgerald, Doucet stepped his game up to the tune of 689 yards and 5 TD’s this past season. He will be asked to be even more involved in Buffalo as their #2 but any attention his can take away from Steve Johnson will be good. Both Johnson and Doucet work well in the short to intermediate zone because of their route running and quickness. Doucet has very good hands which make him an ideal target on 3rd downs and he is a far better player than long time Buffalo Bill WR Josh Reed, ever was.
TE Kellen Davis-Chicago
Yes we just re-signed Scott Chandler but as our writer Erik Dolan pointed out yesterday in his piece, Chandler is an ideal #2 TE, and Davis could have starting potential. Davis who came out of Michigan State as an athletic TE option who could stretch the seam and get vertical is the exact threat the Bills need. Right now the Bills have no way to clear the LB zone coverage with their TE which could open up underneath stuff for any of our WR’s.
Davis has strong hands, is able to split out into the slot for mismatch issues, and is an average blocker in line. He provides us with a receiving option at TE that we haven’t really ever had thanks to his athletic ability and will do more to remind fans of the days of Riemersma and Metzelaars more than Chandler ever could. Davis and Chandler together could become a very deadly red zone TE combo.
OT Mark LeVoir-St. Louis
LeVoir is a swing OT who can kick inside to OG as well. We don’t want to say he can play all four OL positions but it wouldn’t surprise us to see him do it. He was a mid season cut by the Patriots and was highly thought of by their fan base. The Bills who were decimated by injuries last season and loss determined to not resign Demetrius Bell could use a strong backup at OT who could spot start.
LeVoir could join Hairston as an ideal OT/OG backup which would give us ideal depth and versatility along the OL. LeVoir has long arms, does a good job to stay on balance, and is a solid run blocker. He’s not a guy you want to leave on an island at LT for very long but he can more than hold his own. His veteran presence could also be a big plus for a very young offensive line.
DE Jason Jones-Tennessee
With the Bills moving to a 43 defensive front the Bills need to add DE’s to the scheme who can both rush the passer and help defend the run. The Bills currently have a couple of potential DE options but not really anybody that any fan would feel comfortable with as a starter heading into the season.
Jones is not going to be a 10-12 sack guy and that will turn a lot of fans off but what he does do is gives us versatility and unpredictability along the line along with being a very good run defensive end. Jones can play DE or DT in the 43 set and does a fantastic job using his long arms to keep offensive lineman at bay. He knows how to get off blocks and make plays in the running game and would be the ideal RDE in the bills new front next to Dareus or Williams. He could slide inside on 3rd and pass to add even more pass rush to a defense that badly needed to find pressure last season.
CB Adam Jones-Cincinnati
We know that most Bills fans like the fact that we hold ourselves to a higher level of accountability when it comes to the character of our players but frankly we think it’s a bit of an overblown and archaic way of evaluating talent. It’s easy to judge others for their past actions, but to truly evaluate somebody you need to be able to look past that and see what kind of person they are. Adam Jones is a guy who has been regarded as a bad boy in the NFL.
He has reformed himself since being out of the league for two years and was a pretty good slot cover guy for the Bengals the last couple of years. He doesn’t have many INT’s (1 in the last two years) but he did get his hands on six passes last season and he still has explosive speed and return ability that the Bills could use in a punt returner. Jones is only 28 years old and could still be a very productive ball player and big time pick up in a thin CB market.