The new NFL league year has begun, which means that the 2014 NFL free agency period is underway! Throughout the month of March, teams will begin to reshuffle their rosters by adding veteran players who can address needs and/or fill roles on depth charts.
Here at Buffalo Bills Draft, we will track every signing the Buffalo Bills make this off-season.
Brandon Spikes, MLB
This Given Sunday’s Chris Trapasso and others reported Friday that middle linebacker Brandon Spikes has agreed to a deal with the Buffalo Bills, which the team officially announced March 15. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Spikes’ contract is a one-year deal worth $3.25 million. Spikes, who was rated by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) as the NFL’s best inside linebacker against the run each of the past two seasons, could be exactly what what the doctor ordered for the Bills run defense, which ranked 28th in the NFL in yards allowed last season.
Anthony Dixon, RB
Dixon, who has rushed for 458 yards and eight touchdowns in four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, tweeted March 14 that he is joining the Buffalo Bills, a deal that team officially announced March 15. Dixon never had significant opportunities to run the ball in San Francisco, but he is a big, powerful runner who can provide solid third-team depth at the running back position, contribute regularly on special teams and possibly work as a short-yardage and goal line back.
Scott Chandler, TE
Buffalo’s starting tight end and leading receiver from the 2013 season is back with the team. Chandler’s new contract with the Bills is a two-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Chandler’s departure would have left a major need for Buffalo at the tight end position, and while his return should not preclude the Bills from adding another tight end in this year’s draft, he was arguably the best tight end on the free agent market. He was the most reliable target on an unreliable Bills passing offense last season, and finished the year with career-high totals of 53 receptions and 655 receiving yards.
Keith Rivers, OLB
Rivers was officially announced as an addition to the Bills on March 12. ESPN’s James Walker and Tim Graham of The Buffalo News have both reported that the deal is for $5 million over two years, while Graham also tweeted that half of that money will be guaranteed. Rivers isn’t going to be the second three-down linebacker that the team is likely seeking to play alongside Kiko Alonso, but he could challenge Manny Lawson for his job as the third linebacker on the strong side.
Corey Graham, CB
Graham’s signing, officially announced by the team March 12, adds depth at the cornerback position. It’s important to have at least four quality cornerbacks on a modern NFL defense, and the addition of Graham gives the Buffalo a strong quartet along with Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin and Nickell Robey. Graham’s deal is for four years and $16 million, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Caplan.
Chris Williams, G
The Bills might have found their starting left guard for 2014. The team announced the signing of Chris Williams on March 12. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Williams’ contract is worth $13.5 million over four years with $5.5 million guaranteed.
Williams has been oft-injured throughout his career and been subpar as a starter when healthy, so his signing shouldn’t preclude the Bills from drafting a guard, but he at least gives the Bills a veteran guard option with more starting experience, size and strength than incumbent starter Doug Legursky.
Dan Carpenter, K
Dan Carpenter was re-signed March 11 by the Buffalo Bills. Carpenter announced that his contract is for four years. In 2013, Carpenter connected on 33 of 36 field goals (91.7%) for the Bills.
Per Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo, Carpenter’s contract is worth $9.9 million with “a tad over $2 million” in guaranteed money. Those are significant numbers for a kicker, which makes it unlikely that 2013 sixth-round pick Dustin Hopkins will get a real shot at beating him out for a job in training camp.
Mike Caussin, TE
Mike Caussin was re-signed by the Bills on March 11. Caussin had five receptions for 41 yards in 2011. In 2012, Caussin suffered a torn ACL and he spent the 2013 season on the injured reserve.
Other Bills Moves
Kevin Kolb, QB
The Buffalo Bills released Kevin Kolb on March 11. The quarterback received a failed physical designation with his release. He was due a $1 million roster bonus on Thursday.
2013 Bills on the Market
Jairus Byrd, FS: New Orleans Saints
When the Buffalo Bills decided not to franchise tag Jairus Byrd last Monday, it seemed likely he would be headed elsewhere. That became official March 11, when the New Orleans Saints announced the signing of Byrd to a six-year contract. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Byrd’s contract is worth $9 million per year with $28 million guaranteed.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Byrd is one of the NFL’s elite safeties, and should form one of the league’s best tandems at the position alongside second-year strong safety Kenny Vaccaro. The Bills, meanwhile, will have to consider their options for replacing Byrd in the starting lineup, whether that be with second-year safety Duke Williams, returning veteran Da’Norris Searcy, a free-agent addition or a draft pick.
Arthur Moats, LB: Pittsburgh Steelers
After four years with the Buffalo Bills, Arthur Moats is set to join the Pittsburgh Steelers on a one-year contract. BBD’s Ryan Talbot confirmed that the Bills did not make an offer to re-sign Moats, who recorded a career-high 54 tackles as an off-ball linebacker last season. Moats’ contract with Pittsburgh is worth $795,000, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.
Alex Carrington, DL: St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams added depth to their defensive line by signing former Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Alex Carrington on March 25. BBD’s Ryan Talbot confirmed that Carrington’s contract with St. Louis is for one year. Assuming he has made a full recovery from a torn quadriceps muscle that cost him the final 13 games of his fourth and final season in Buffalo, Carrington should provide quality depth on St. Louis’ defensive line, possessing the versatility to play both outside at defensive end and inside at defensive tackle in St. Louis’ 4-3 defensive scheme.
Jim Leonhard, S
Thomas Welch, OT