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Buffalo Bills 2024 NFL offseason primer: Defense could lose key pieces, and what’s next with WR room?

In Sports
February 23, 2024

Buffalo Bills‘ 2023 season: 11-6, won AFC East, lost in divisional round

Overview: A roller coaster season ultimately ended in another heartbreaking playoff loss. A talented roster led by quarterback Josh Allen entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations but things almost went off the rails when Buffalo fell to 6-6 by the end of November. After firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and promoting Joe Brady to the job, the Bills got things back on track and won five straight to finish the season as AFC East champs.

But once again, hopes of a deep playoff run were dashed by the Kansas City Chiefs, who handed Buffalo another gut-wrenching loss in the divisional round. It was the third time in the last four years the Chiefs knocked the Bills out of the playoffs.

Despite the postseason disappointments, Buffalo remains talented and will be a contender as long as Allen is around. The salary cap situation is very tight, which will make this offseason a delicate balance for general manager Brandon Beane with several key defenders headed for free agency. Even so, there’s no reason to believe this team will take a significant step back in 2024.

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

Key free agents

DT DaQuan Jones
WR Gabe Davis
DE A.J. Epenesa
DE Leonard Floyd
S Micah Hyde
S Taylor Rapp
CB Dane Jackson

Who’s in/out: It seems clear the team’s first priority will be locking down DaQuan Jones, one of the better interior defensive lineman in the NFL. After that, Buffalo may try to sign veterans like Leonard Floyd or Micah Hyde to one-year deals, a strategy Beane favors, while it will be more difficult to keep younger players like Gabe Davis and A.J. Epenesa.

Defensive lineman DaQuan Jones will be one of Buffalo's top priority free agents to re-sign this offseason. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Defensive lineman DaQuan Jones will be one of Buffalo’s top priority free agents to re-sign this offseason. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Key free agent needs

Wide receiver
Edge rusher

Why the holes? This is just the price of doing business as a talented team with a high-priced QB. It’s hard to keep all your best players in house, and this offseason could very well see the loss of key pass-rushing talent and perhaps the team’s best receiving deep threat in Davis. Buffalo will need to find another receiver to pair alongside Stefon Diggs and some replacements for its defensive exodus both up front and in the secondary.

Do they have the money?

No, is the short answer. At a projected $54 million above the cap, according to Spotrac, the Bills rank 31st in the league. They’ll likely have to restructure the contracts of several big-name players, including Allen, Diggs, Tre’Davious White and Dawson Knox. Don’t expect this team to be involved in any big-name free agency signings. The draft will be key.

Potential notable cuts

CB Tre’Davious White
C Mitch Morse
RB Nyheim Hines

Why they might be gone: OK, it’s much more realistic that White’s contract is restructured rather than being cut, but his recent injury history and the potential cap savings of roughly $10.2 million make him one to watch. Morse and Hines also offer significant cap relief if they’re released.

Draft picks

1st round: No. 28
2nd round: No. 60 overall
3rd round: No. 99 overall (compensatory)
4th round
5th round (from Packers)
5th round
6th round (from Rams)
6th round (from Cowboys)
6th round
7th round

Good draft fit

Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

Why him? This team needs as many receiving weapons on the outside as possible with a big-armed QB like Allen. With Davis possibly walking away in free agency and Diggs’ future with the team regularly volatile (or so it seems), it would make sense for Buffalo to draft a tall, fast wideout like Franklin, who “could end up projecting as a low-end WR1 in the right offense,” according to Yahoo’s Nate Tice and Charles McDonald in their latest mock draft.

What can move the fantasy football needle this offseason?

Stefon Diggs pushed off to a strong start in 2023, but after Week 6 the air hissed out of the balloon. Diggs was the WR37 for the final 11 weeks of the fantasy season, with a mere four touchdowns and a paltry 9.3 yards per catch. Diggs has one more year under contract for over $27 million, but it wouldn’t be a shock if player and team quietly worked on an amicable divorce. The Bills need to figure out who Josh Allen’s premier target is going to be for 2024, whether it’s Diggs, emerging tight end Dalton Kincaid or someone not currently in the organization. — Scott Pianowski

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