Bills Front Office Leave Stones Unturned Again Anthony D. Macari @nflwarroom
"Leave No Stone Unturned" "Draft Well and Retain Your Own Stars" "Build Through the Draft" "Don't confuse effort with results" Those are just some of the quotes Bills fans have heard repeatedly from the Bills front office as they preach patience to a fan base who has been subjected to sub-mediocrity for well over a decade now.
The franchise with the longest playoff appearance draught and an even longer streak without a playoff win would like you to believe they have tried everything possible to build a winner the right way.
Yet here we are for the second season in a row ready to see one of their own draft successes turned into a free agent loss with nothing obtained as compensation. A few days ago news leaked that the negotiations with the Jairus Byrd had broken down. Those leaked reports also included a snippet of the offer the Billls made that was turned down. In a classic loser franchise move, the Bills leaked news of a huge number to help win over the fan base. It's a PR move, not a negotiating tactic. Why would we expect anything else from Russ Brandon's Bills.
Now, it does take two sides to negotiate a contract and clearly Byrd is intent on testing the market. The Bills can't be 100% blamed if a player simply doesn't want to be here. However, they had the option of the franchise or transition tags that would have given them the chance to recoup at least some of their investment made to develop Byrd. They had the opportunity to address his salary 2 years ago before he hit free agency. Yet the Bills chose not to do that. The only reason they gave was that it would be difficult to negotiate a trade. Said Whaley, "Too many moving parts" What does that even mean. How little do you trust in your own ability to negotiate a deal that getting absolutely nothing for a player on the verge of a league high for position player is the best you think you can do. Nothing.
And forget the prospect of receiving a high compensation pick for Byrd in 2015. The league's ridiculous formula for awarding picks is first based on the net number of free agents lost. So if the Bills actually do sign as many free agents as they lose, which now they need to do to plug some of their holes with veterans before the draft, they will get nothing. That's the case when a huge hole was created at LG last season when the Bills let Levitre leave for nothing.
The bottom line is the Bills are worse today than they were yesterday. The Bills defense last year gave up 377.4 net yards a game before Byrd returned to the lineup and only 296.4 yards per game after he had taken over the starting FS position in the last 10 games (Bengals Game were he saw limited action was not included in either category) The opponent QB passing yardage was even more stark. 283.4 yards per game without Byrd compared to only 191.2 with him back in the starting lineup. Byrd's return also coincided with Gilmore's, but there really is no doubt the impact Byrd made to the effectiveness of the Bills defense.
So Bills fans are left to hope they draft good players, but not great because the great ones will be gone in 3 years. Left to watch a team that has essential become little more than a farm team for the rest of the league. Left to hear that the salary cap era is to blame for not getting deals done with their own while for multiple seasons of losing in a row they spend near the league minimum far below the cap. No stone left unturned Russ? How about no cap dollar left unspent? Bills fans deserve better.