The New England Patriots have successfully signed another key offensive player away from a division rival.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Buffalo Bills have informed running back Mike Gillislee that they will not be matching the two-year, $6.4 million offer sheet he signed with the Patriots.
Bills declined to match two-year, $6.4 million offer sheet that RB Mike Gillislee signed with Patriots, per source. Gillislee now a Pat.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 24, 2017
Gillislee rushed for 577 yards and scored eight touchdowns on just 101 carries in 2016. That’s an impressive 5.7 yards per carry, and the 26-year-old did it while playing a clear backup role behind LeSean McCoy. In New England, Gillislee will likely replace LeGarrette Blount as the early-down back.
The Patriots now have seemingly great depth at running back, as they also signed former Cincinnati Bengals back Rex Burkhead this offseason. Super Bowl hero James White and Dion Lewis will continue with their passing-down work, though it would not be a surprise if the latter ends up getting cut during training camp.
With the lack of NFL-ready talent at the quarterback position in this year’s NFL Draft class, it is no surprise there are at least four — and possibly five or more — teams who are reportedly interested in trading back in the first round.
According to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, the Titans, Bills, Jets and 49ers are all exploring the possibility of trading out of the top 10.
— Jason Cole (@JasonColeBR) April 22, 2017
Peter King of The MMQB said earlier in the week that the 49ers, Jets and Bears are the “most eager” to trade back, so we can add at least one more team to Cole’s list. That makes five teams that are supposedly actively exploring the possibility of moving back.
Only three or four teams in the top 10 this year have a real need at the quarterback position, and there are really no can’t-miss QB prospects in the draft. On the contrary, other positions like running back, defensive back and tight end are very deep, so it would make sense for some teams to trade back and acquire an extra pick or two while still getting an impact player.
Three of the five teams we consider most likely to make a trade during the draft (see the full list here) have picks in the top 10. That seems to be the common theme, so it would be a surprise if one or two teams didn’t pull the trigger.
The New England Patriots are on the verge of stealing yet another key offensive player from the Buffalo Bills.
On Tuesday, running back Mike Gilislee — a restricted free agent — signed an offer sheet with the Patriots worth a reported $6.4 million over two years. The Bills now have an opportunity to match, but they do not have much salary cap space. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald expects Buffalo to let Gillislee walk.
The Bills haven't informed Gillislee of their final decision yet, but the first indication is they don't believe they'll match, per source.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) April 18, 2017
Last offseason, the Patriots signed former restricted free agent Chris Hogan to an offer sheet, and Buffalo was unable to match. The wide receiver ended up playing a key role in New England, catching 38 passes for 680 yards and four touchdowns. More important, Hogan had 17 catches for 332 yards and two scores in the postseason and was one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets down the stretch.
Gillislee rushed for 577 yards and scored eight touchdowns on just 101 carries in 2016. That’s an impressive 5.7 yards per carry, and the 26-year-old did it while playing a clear backup role behind LeSean McCoy. In New England, Gillislee would likely replace LeGarrette Blount as the early-down back.
Losing another key player to the rival Patriots would sting, but the Bills may not have a choice.
On the surface, it would seem like the Buffalo Bills are content with their quarterback situation after they worked out a new deal with Tyrod Taylor. But behind the scenes, they are apparently dead set on finding “the next guy.”
In an appearance on Jason McIntyre’s FOX Sports Radio show over the weekend, Albert Breer of The MMQB said the Bills are “very, very serious” about spending their first-round pick — No. 10 overall — on a quarterback.
“What Cleveland’s going to have to do now if they want Mitch Trubisky, I think they’re going to have to hop over Buffalo … if Tyrod [Taylor] proves to be the long-term answer there, you’ve got a great commodity sitting on your bench. It’s like the Ron Wolf theory — when the [Packers] had Brett Favre, they kept drafting QBs – they’d draft one every year — Matt Hasslebeck, Aaron Brooks, Mark Brunell, Ty Detmer — [and] they flipped all those guys for draft picks.
“I think Buffalo is very, very serious about taking a QB at 10. If you’re the Browns, it’s, ‘Ok, we have to get in front of Buffalo now. maybe we have to move up and trade with Carolina or the Chargers or Jets … if we want Trubisky, we want to be sure we get him, but we don’t want to spend the #1 pick on him.’”
While Taylor is only 27, it’s hard to get a read on how the Bills view him. The free agent market was so thin at QB this offseason that it’s possible Buffalo reached a compromise with Taylor for the mere fact that they had no other option. If they truly considered him to be a franchise cornerstone, they probably would have just picked up the option that guaranteed Taylor another $30 million and extended his deal.
If the Bills trade up for a QB, that would be a pretty strong message to Taylor that they do not have total confidence in him.
- Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills decided to retain general manager Doug Whaley this offseason after they fired head coach Rex Ryan, whom the GM was responsible for hiring. However, there could still be an expiration date on Whaley’s time with the team.
Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News published a column on Saturday in which he said that Whaley is destined to be fired as Bills GM and might as well resign. Sullivan outlined all the ways which Whaley has lost power within the organization.
For example, the team retained quarterback Tyrod Taylor when it looked like they were going to let him go, and they got rid of many of Whaley’s favorites. They also are not really letting Whaley speak with the media or represent the club. He won’t even be speaking at a pre-draft luncheon, which used to be the GM’s turf.
Instead, much of the personnel control Whaley used to have apparently belongs to new head coach Sean McDermott, who likely accepted the job under those conditions.
Many of these issues seem to mirror what happened between Washington and Scot McCloughan before he was eventually fired. As soon as a team stops letting a GM represent the team to the media, you know they’ve lost a lot of power.
Tyrod Taylor and the Bills have come to an agreement that will keep the quarterback in Buffalo for the 2017 season.
The team announced on Wednesday that Taylor has agreed to restructure his contract.
We've agreed to terms with QB Tyrod Taylor on a restructured contract.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) March 8, 2017
It was previously reported that Taylor was unwilling to take a pay cut, so it will be interesting to see what the details of the new deal are. Taylor had a team option upcoming that would have guaranteed him around $30 million more, so it’s possible the Bills lowered the guaranteed number while also giving Taylor an opportunity to earn more over the life of the contract.
Taylor, 27, threw for 3,023 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions last season. He added 580 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
The biggest domino at the quarterback position has yet to fall this offseason for a handful of teams, as Tony Romo remains under contract with the Dallas Cowboys for the time being. Are the Buffalo Bills one team that will be watching the veteran very closely?
While the Bills would love to sign Romo, the interest is likely not mutual, as Romo wants to play for a Super Bowl contender. However, one contender Romo has been linked to is the Denver Broncos. And if the Broncos end up signing Romo, NFL reporter Benjamin Allbright has heard the Bills will explore the possibility of trading for Trevor Siemian.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) March 2, 2017
A lot of pieces need to fall into place before that would happen, but Siemian could very well end up being the odd man out in Denver. Even if the Broncos don’t end up signing Romo, they drafted former Memphis star Paxton Lynch in the first round last year for a reason. Eventually, Lynch is going to get his shot.
If the latest report about their quarterback situation is accurate, the Bills may need a new signal-caller before long. Could Siemian be that guy? It seems like a long shot, but time will tell.