10 veteran free agents who might still interest the Bills


Staff member

Brandon Beane’s not ready to get the golf clubs out just yet.

The Buffalo Bills’ general manager was asked after the conclusion of the NFL draft if his roster building for the 2024 season was complete.

“I wish I could say I checked everything and I could just go on vacation, but, no,” Beane said.

He showed that to be the case last week when he made three additions via unrestricted free agency, signing wide receiver Chase Claypool, defensive end Dawuane Smoot and linebacker Deion Jones. Along with Beane’s 10-player draft class, that puts the team’s roster at 77 players. It’s expected that another 12 rookie undrafted free agents will sign ahead of rookie minicamp this weekend, which would put the roster at 89, one short of the 90-man offseason limit. However, the Bills are permitted to go to 91 players because seventh-round draft choice Travis Clayton is part of the international player pathway program.

“We’ve got some guys, we’ve added some depth, we’ve added some competition, some pieces. We’re not going to be at 90 by the end of this, so we’re going to keep looking and see what’s shuffled out over the next couple weeks – maybe some vets get released where they were drafted over by a team or two,” Beane said. “We’re going to keep spinning this roster and see if there are a few pieces between now and camp.

“You’re never happy. You’re never, like, content, like we got it figured out.”

One bonus of adding free agents now is that their additions no longer count in the compensatory draft pick formula for 2025. As it stands, the Bills are projected to receive fourth- and fifth-round compensatory picks next year for the losses of receiver Gabe Davis and edge rusher Leonard Floyd, according to the website Over The Cap, which diligently tracks the compensatory process.

While Beane doesn’t have a lot of money to go shopping at the moment, the Bills will open up a little more than $10 million in cap space when cornerback Tre’Davious White’s money comes off the books after June 1. Here are 10 free agents still currently on the market, listed in alphabetical order, who could be of interest to Beane and the Bills:

K Randy Bullock: If the Bills want to bring veteran competition to camp for Tyler Bass, Bullock is still on the open market. Given that it would cost more to cut Bass than keep him on the team, however, this is unlikely.

DL Calais Campbell: If the Bills feel like they need more leadership in the locker room, Campbell would immediately fill that void. He’s made a previous visit to Buffalo as a free agent last year, so we know Beane at one point had an interest. A former Walter Payton Man of the Year winner, Campbell opted to sign with the Falcons for the 2023 season instead of the Bills. He went on to start every game in Atlanta, finishing with 56 tackles and 6.5 sacks, both his most since 2019. He turns 38 right before the start of the 2024 season, so it would clearly be a short-term deal, but Campbell showed last year he can still play.

Former Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who spent last season with the Dallas Cowboys, remains an unrestricted free agent. Harry Scull Jr., Buffalo News
CB Stephon Gilmore: A former first-round draft pick of the Bills in 2012, Gilmore has entered the journeyman portion of his career, playing for four teams over the past four seasons. Although he’ll turn 34 in September, Gilmore, like Campbell, played at a high level last season. For the Cowboys, he started all 17 games, making 13 passes defensed and two interceptions. He also set a career high with 68 tackles. It’s possible Gilmore is holding out for a starting job somewhere, but if the Bills wanted to add veteran depth behind projected starters Christian Benford and Rasul Douglas, Gilmore would be more than just a reunion storyline.

CB Xavien Howard: He was a first-team All-Pro in 2020 after leading the NFL with 20 passes defensed and 10 interceptions with Miami. He’s made just two interceptions over the past two seasons, but has defended 24 passes in that time. The days of Howard being a No. 1 cornerback are likely over, but like Gilmore, he could provide veteran depth. Consider it a measure of revenge for the Dolphins signing Jordan Poyer.

Wide receiver Zay Jones, trying to score for the Jaguars in a game against the Titans in January, is a former Bills second-round draft pick who might be worth considering, though he suffered a knee injury last season that limited him to just nine games. George Walker IV, Associated Press
WR Zay Jones: The former Bills second-round draft pick was released recently by Jacksonville after the Jaguars drafted LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. in the first round last month. Jones suffered a knee injury last season that limited him to just nine games. As a result, he finished with just 34 catches for 321 yards and two touchdowns. The previous year, however, he had 82 catches for 823 yards and five touchdowns – his most productive professional season. Receiver remains a worry spot for many fans, so it makes sense to include Jones here. He’s reportedly taking a visit to the Titans, however, so even if the Bills were interested, they might not get the chance to sign him.

DE Yannick Ngakoue: He’s played for six teams over the past five seasons, so Ngakoue is no stranger to moving around. He finished with just four sacks in 13 games last year for the Bears, but over the 2021-22 seasons with the Raiders and Colts, respectively, Ngakoue had 19.5 sacks. The Bills did not invest heavily along the edge in the draft, so Ngakoue could be an option if the team is looking for a designated pass rusher.

G Dalton Risner: The Bills are gambling that moving Connor McGovern from left guard to center to replace Mitch Morse will work out. They’re also betting that David Edwards will capably step in for McGovern at left guard. Even if both moves work out, it leaves the Bills with less depth than a year ago. Risner started 11 games and appeared in 15 for the Vikings last year after spending the first four years of his career with the Broncos.

WR Michael Thomas: He’s appeared in just 20 games over the past four seasons because of various injuries, so being overly reliant on Thomas would be a bad decision for any team. But, as a low-risk flier to see if he could ever regain some of the form that four straight seasons of at least 1,100 receiving yards to start his NFL career … that could be worth it for the 31-year-old.

S Justin Simmons: The selection of Utah safety Cole Bishop in the second round lessens the need at the position, but Simmons would also immediately address the team’s leadership void. He turns 31 in November and started 15 games for the Broncos last season, finishing with 70 tackles, eight passes defensed and three interceptions.

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling: It was Valdes-Scantling, and not Stefon Diggs, who was making big plays down the field when the Bills hosted the Chiefs in January in an AFC divisional playoff game. At the very least, Valdes-Scantling, 29, is big-game tested.