Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is sacked by the Jacksonville Jaguars defense during an NFL Wild Card game at EverBank Field on January 7. Photo by Joe Marino/Bill Cantrell | License Photo
The Buffalo Bills have a total of 18 unrestricted free agents and can make the argument that only a scant few would make much of an impact on the 2018 team if they returned.
At the top of the list is cornerback E.J. Gaines, who came to the Bills last summer in the Sammy Watkins trade from the Rams. Although Gaines battled injuries, as he has most of his career, when he was on the field he was a solid complement to rookie corner Tre'Davious White and helped the Bills' secondary have a nice season. He will get offers, but given his injury history, his price may not be huge and the Bills would be wise to stay in the mix to retain him.
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams is pondering retirement and has not made a decision. If he feels he can play, the Bills would probably try to make it work with a one-year offer because Williams can still be a useful rotational player, and he's invaluable in the locker room.
Linebacker Preston Brown has played 99 percent of the snaps in each of the last two years and he's been a full-time starter since his rookie season. With 504 career tackles, he's among the league leaders over the four-year period he has been in the NFL. He's not a gifted athlete by any means, and the Bills will probably move on, but if his market doesn't move, it wouldn't hurt Buffalo to consider bringing him back.
In the next tier, players like wide receiver Deonte Thompson and cornerback Leonard Johnson may be worth re-signing. In a drastically weak receiving corps, Thompson gave the Bills average production with 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown and proved he could make plays downfield. Johnson was the full-time nickel cornerback and while he wasn't great in man coverage, he has experience and a relationship with head coach Sean McDermott from their days together in Carolina.
Running backs Taiwan Jones and Travaris Cadet both showed some flashes as the backup to LeSean McCoy, but both suffered season-ending leg injuries and may not be worth bringing back for much more than the league minimum.
It seems highly unlikely that any of the Bills' free agents would get a franchise or transition tag.
Unit-by-unit depth chart as of Super Bowl LII. Injured players listed as starters if that was their status when injured.
*Asterisk indicates player ended 2017 season on injured reserve.
QUARTERBACKS (C): Starter - Tyrod Taylor. Backups - Nathan Peterman, Joe Webb (UFA).
RUNNING BACKS (B-plus): Starters - LeSean McCoy, FB Patrick DiMarco. Backups - Mike Tolbert (UFA), *Travaris Cadet (UFA), *Taiwan Jones (UFA), Marcus Murphy.
TIGHT ENDS (C-minus): Starter - Charles Clay. Backups - Nick O'Leary, Logan Thomas, *Keith Towbridge, Khari Lee.
WIDE RECEIVERS (D-minus): Starters - Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones. Backups - Brandon Tate (UFA), Deonte Thompson (UFA), Brandon Reilly, *Andre Holmes, *Jeremy Butler, *Jordan Matthews (UFA).
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (C): Startets - LT *Cordy Glenn, LG Richie Incognito, C Eric Wood, RG Vlad Ducasse, RT Jordan Mills. Backups - T Dion Dawkins, T Seantrel Henderson (UFA), C/G Ryan Groy, T Conor McDermott, G John Miller.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (C): Starters - DT Kyle Williams (UFA), DT Adolphus Washington, RDE Jerry Hughes, LDE *Shaq Lawson. Backups - DE Eddie Yarbrough, DE Cap Capi, DE Ryan Davis, DT Cedric Thornton (UFA).
LINEBACKERS (C-plus): Starters - SLB Lorenzo Alexander, MLB Preston Brown (UFA), WLB Matt Milano. Backups - OLB Ramon Humber (UFA), OLB Deon Lacey, MLB Tanner Vallejo.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (A-minus): Starters - RCB E.J. Gaines (UFA), LCB Tre'Davious White, SS Micah Hyde, FS Jordan Poyer. Backups - CB Shareece Wright (UFA), CB Leonard Johnson (UFA), SS Shamarko Thomas (UFA), CB Breon Borders, CB Lafayette Pitts, FS Colt Anderson.
SPECIAL TEAMS (B-minus): K Stephen Hauschka, P Colton Schmidt, LS Reid Ferguson, KOR/PR Brandon Tate (UFA).