With free agency nearing and many Bills still waiting on a contract, how will things shake out? The Bills have the 6th most cap space (~$28.6 million) out of all teams in the NFL. Here are my thoughts on these 4 unrestricted free agents and if they’ll end up staying here or leaving Buffalo. Part two to follow next week.
Byrd has obviously been a huge topic amongst Bills fans. After we all became so familiar with plantar fasciitis at the beginning of the season (the injury which kept him from seeing the field until week 6), we were left wondering if he really was worth the money he was asking for. He absolutely turned it on this season leading the team with four interceptions (tied), a forced fumble and 48 tackles . He also earned his third Pro Bowl bid this year. If they were to tag him once more (which is unlikely) it would cost $8.3 million. There has been talk that Byrd likes the new defensive hires for the Bills and a contract may get done in the next two weeks. In my opinion (which has wavered over this in the past year), Byrd will stay.
As good as Dustin Hopkins may have looked in preseason, a nagging groin injury kept him out all year. Dan Carpenter had an exceptional season making 33/36 field goals to tie Steve Christie’s franchise record for most field goals made in a season. He also made 4/6 FG’s when the attempt was over 50 yards. Training camp will ultimately determine which kicker will stay, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Carpenter comes out on top to beat out Hopkins.
Now, you can say we shouldn’t get attached to players while they’re here but I can’t think of one Bills fan who doesn’t like Arthur Moats. He is one of the most caring, kind and compassionate players in the NFL. He devotes a lot of his time to charity work and as much free time as he can with his wife and children. As for play on the football field, Moats saw about a third of defensive snaps this season, but lost a majority of them to Nigel Bradham later in the season. It literally pains me to think that Moats may not come back but training camp will give us better answers.
In his return to Buffalo Jim was utilized on defense and on special teams. He played a crucial role when Byrd was not able to start at the beginning of the season and really helped out where needed. He played in all 16 games and had a combined 41 tackles and tying Byrd with 4 interceptions. Leonhard was also a punt returner and averaged 9 yards per return. It’s really up in the air if he stays or goes depending on what happens with Byrd’s situation.