Early Free-Agent Contracts the Bills Must Consider

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills took a major leap forward during the 2020 NFL season, but they need to be even better to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs on a yearly basis. 

    Buffalo was aggressive last offseason when it acquired Stefon Diggs in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings

    If the Bills can show the same willingness to add key pieces in the next few months, they may have a chance to get level with Kansas City in 2021. 

    Buffalo’s primary offseason focus should be on defense, where it has to try to re-sign Matt Milano and bring in upgrades for its pass-rush. 

    The Bills do not have to make many changes to the offensive skill positions, but they do need to lock down more protection for Josh Allen. 

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    Milano made more of an impact chasing after opposing quarterbacks in 2020 than he did in his first three seasons with Buffalo. 

    The linebacker recorded 3.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits in 10 games, both of which were career bests. 

    Buffalo should do everything in its power to keep Milano in the middle of its defense, because he can be a difference-maker against some of the top teams in the AFC.

    In three playoff games, Milano recorded 25 tackles and a quarterback hit as he tried his best to silence the opposing threats in the middle of the field. 

    If the Bills bring back Milano, they should have one of the best linebacker units in the AFC since A.J. Klein and Tremaine Edmunds are under contract for 2021. 

    Klein and Edmunds finished in the top four on the team in tackles. Milano was eighth because he only played in 10 games. 

    If the Bills bring back all of their starting linebackers and add more depth to the pass-rush, they could have a fiercer unit in 2021. 

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    Doug Murray/Associated Press

    Melvin Ingram is one of two pass-rushers who could intrigue Buffalo and may be available on a reasonable contract. 

    Ingram recorded at least seven sacks in the five seasons prior to 2020. He missed a majority of this season with an injury.

    The injury could be the reason Ingram may come at a discounted price on the free-agent market. The same could be said about Bud Dupree, but Ingram has been a more consistent sack earner.

    Ingram’s consistent pressure on the quarterback when healthy should intrigue Buffalo, who needs to have a heavier presence in the opposing pocket. No Bills player recorded more than five sacks in 2020.

    Buffalo has Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes still under contract, so it could try to install new schemes for them to get to the quarterback, or it could rely on A.J. Epenesa to take another step in his development. 

    If the Bills want to improve through free agency, Ingram could be a perfect candidate for a short-term deal since he is 31, is coming off an injury and has an impressive history of getting to the quarterback.

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    Stew Milne/Associated Press

    The top offensive offseason move should be to secure Daryl Williams’ presence on the offensive line for a few more years. 

    Williams turned in a solid season at offensive tackle and could be key to keeping Allen upright in the coming years, if he returns. 

    Allen was only sacked on 26 occasions in the regular season, and he was taken down twice in Buffalo’s playoff victories over the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens

    If the Bills are going to throw at a high rate again in 2021, they need players like Williams who have experience blocking for a mobile quarterback in place. Williams also played for the Carolina Panthers when Cam Newton was there. 

    Buffalo does not have to make many moves at the offensive skill positions since Diggs, Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, Gabriel Davis, Cole Beasley, John Brown and Dawson Knox are all under contract for 2021. 

    If the Bills turn their focus to the offensive line and lock down Williams for a few more years, they could be set for more success on that side of the ball.

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference

    Contract information obtained from Spotrac

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