By BBD Staff Writer: Erik Dolan
Free agency officially starts at 4 pm on Tuesday, March 13th. At the time I am writing this, the Bills have re-signed Steve Johnson, Kirk Morrison, Scott Chandler, Ruvell Martin, and they have tendered Keith Urbik and Chad Rinehart. With the exception of Martin I would agree with the others as starters and/or depth that we should re-sign for the time being.
Johnson is the obvious number one receiver and we extended him with a very fair contract. Despite some of the arguments against Johnson I think there are plenty more in favor of keeping him. Not the least of them being age and productivity. Oh yeah, he seems to play decently against Revis. Tough to find guys who do that.
Morrison and Chandler are not guys you pencil in as top-line studs, but they are both solid two’s who can offer veteran experience as regular contributors ranked somewhere higher than “back-up.”
Morrison has been a decent starter during his career and he offers the team some decent comfort as the back-up MLB in case the job is too great for 2nd year man, Kelvin Sheppard.
Chandler started in 2011 and is listed as the current starter going into 2012. He is a nice player who has good chemistry with the QB, but I believe he better suited as a second TE. So, while I am happy with his signing, I am not of the belief that the team is set at the position.
As far as Urbik and Rinehart – I think both guys could be improved upon, but I am absolutely in favor of getting them under contract for now. I am in the camp of “you can always improve on the line.” Being in that camp means that I am in favor of bringing in a lot of big bodies and creating as much competition as possible. The starting five are crucial to any team’s success, but the depth often proves to be just as crucial simply because starting offensive lineman go down. It is a position that plays in a physical and violent atmosphere within close quarters, and it’s the nature of the beast.
As for those who are still unrestricted and un-signed, I will give a quick yay or nay (or maybe) on them here:
Demetrius Bell – I lean toward yes on Bell. The team has been in talks with Bell’s camp and there is no denying that the guy has some obvious ability. Having said that, there is absolutely room for improvement. Bell has given us injury concerns and that makes it difficult to justify a big long-term contract. The problem the team may run into is that another team may look at Bell and see a young and talented player who they are willing to take a shot at. The Bills cannot and should not get into any sort of bidding war over Bell. It would be great if he does sign with Buffalo and it would be in Buffalo’s best interest if he does, but the team still needs to look for other offensive tackles either way.
Tashard Choice – Why not? Choice is a strong runner who specializes in tough yards and he would be listed as the third back. I understand that there are a couple of younger backs on the team, but more are needed going into camp and Choice makes sense there.
The others – Derek Hagan, Bryan Scott, Roscoe Parrish, Andre Davis, Reggie Torbor and Reggie Corner. No, No, No, No, No and yes. The two favorites in this group amongst fans are probably Bryan Scott and Roscoe Parrish. Let’s be very clear here. I am not opposed to keeping Bryan Scott. I just do not see a reason to put a ton of effort into doing so. Scott has played admirably over the years, but he has never been a force and his position as a back-up, out of position, free-safety may very well end up the easiest to fill.
Roscoe Parrish is the fun and elusive punt returner who brings that “it factor” to the offense with his speed and shiftiness. He’s also always hurt and not getting younger. I loved the idea of Parrish, but that project needs to be put to rest.
I do not know what else to say about Hagan, Davis and Torbor beyond they just did not play well. They are all back-ups who have not produced for the team when they did play. It is simply time to bring in some new bodies to see if they can fill the bottom of the depth chart.