The Buffalo Bills haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years and have to spend $36 million to get to the salary cap floor this season. The only thing really keeping them from being the Florida Panthers of the NFL is unwavering fan support.
After watching the Sabres wheel and deal under new ownership and attempt to improve their reputation around the league, it’s more than a letdown to hear Bills GM Buddy Nix say this:
“We’ve said from day one we’re never going to be big spenders in free agency.”
“We think we’ve got better players than you guys and maybe the fans think we have.”
Having confidence in your guys is fine, but when some of your better players choose to leave, you suddenly don’t have better players on your roster.
Paul Posluszny, who probably could have been the Bills version of Tim Connolly (always injured, highly touted, never really meeting fans’ expectations, but the team never really had a better option), is off to Jacksonville to hang out with fellow 2007 Draft alum Trent Edwards. Poz was a decent player for the Bills and that shouldn’t be overlooked — especially now that the team has to replace him.
With Posluszny, the Bills have failed to retain one of their own free agents and it’s going to make it that much tougher to sign a player that’s at least as good as Poz. And if you’re in the “Poz wasn’t very good to begin with and he’s not worth that contract” camp (and he’s really not worth that contract) then the fact they’re now probably going to downgrade at the position says a lot about where the organization is.
I do have faith in Nix and coach Chan Gailey. So far they’ve shot from the hip and seem to have the best intentions for this team in mind. However, they’re still hamstrung by a tightwad owner who has a history of meddling in the football operations.
Ralph Wilson makes it very hard to fully embrace this team, especially after what we’ve seen the other team in town do over the last few months.
In light of Posluszny (and possibly Drayton Florence) being out, Nix could adjust his philosophy, but I wouldn’t count on that. We’ve seen they would rather overpay the devils they know (Chris Kelsay) than the ones the don’t (outside free agents).
Sure, the Bills have some talented young players who might be ready to step up and take on larger roles. The receiving corps is full of over-achievers and there will be plenty of rookies on the defensive side of the ball that can make a positive impact. Fitzpatrick is a capable quarterback and maybe Shawne Merriman still has some game left.
But what everyone has been calling a “recruiting” problem is a serious issue. The team is going to continue to struggle to attract big names until they start winning consistently and prove they aren’t out to spend as little as possible.
That’s easier said than done.