Back to business – storylines as Bills start offseason program


Staff member

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen will have a different corps of receivers this year after the team let Gabe Davis sign with Jacksonville
in free agency and traded Stefon Diggs to Houston. Harry Scull Jr., Buffalo News

Predicted questions from new Buffalo Bills players to returning Buffalo Bills players when they start filing into the team’s facility Monday morning for the start of the voluntary offseason program:

“Hey, good to meet you. How do I get to the weight room?”
“We go through the indoor facility to get to the practice field?”
“This a weirdly designed locker room, right?”
“Remind me: What’s the Wi-Fi network?”

A new year has meant new faces, starting with six new assistant coaches and continuing with 14 new players, since the Bills lost to Kansas City in the AFC divisional round. The current roster is at 62 players so more additions are on the way to get to the 90-man maximum.

The overhaul was required, Part 1: Salary cap constraints forced the Bills’ hand in some decisions.

The overhaul was required, Part 2: A roster re-set was required after the previous core lost consecutive second-round home playoff games.

Led by quarterback Josh Allen, the Bills will be back in town for the first of three offseason phases: 1. Two weeks of meetings and strength/conditioning sessions. 2. Three weeks of on-field individual/group instruction and practicing plays at a walk-through pace. 3. Four weeks that include 10 organized team activity (OTA) days in which 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 are permitted (helmets). Everything is voluntary until the mandatory minicamp (June 11-13).

Here are five storylines to follow for the next two months:

Focus on Allen​

What’s the story: Since entering the league in 2018, Allen ranks second in regular-season wins (63), fourth in touchdown passes (167), sixth in yards (22,703) … and first in interceptions (78). The picks are the main reason why Allen ranks 14th in passer rating (92.2) among quarterbacks with at least 2,000 attempts since ’18.

Allen will be experiencing the biggest changes of his career this offseason. A third play-caller (offensive coordinator Joe Brady) and quarterbacks coach (Ronald Curry) in four years. A new center (Connor McGovern takes over for Mitch Morse) for the first time since he was a rookie. And most notably, no Stefon Diggs or Gabe Davis at receiver for the first time since 2019, traded to Houston and allowed to sign with Jacksonville, respectively.

The quote: Asked on the DeepCut podcast last week who will be the next quarterback to win his first Super Bowl, Tom Brady said: “I like Josh Allen a lot. I would pick Josh. I like Josh a lot as a guy, as a leader. But you know, he has to get past the Chiefs and that’s hard because Patrick (Mahomes) is incredible in the way he leads that team.”

Analysis: Allen isn’t running out of years – he’s entering his age-28 season – to make the Super Bowl and the window is open as long as he’s healthy and productive. Minus Diggs and working with younger players, expect a liberated Allen to take his leadership to a new level. He is working with a play-caller in Brady who he’s comfortable with and Curry should bring a new view to help Allen’s game. Be excited about No. 17, Bills fans.

Offense minus Diggs​

What’s the story: On April 3, the Bills shipped Diggs along with sixth- (this year) and fifth-round (2025) picks to Houston for a second-round selection in ’25. Diggs was a high-volume usage player – in his four seasons, he accounted for 28.3% of the team’s catches (445 of 1,571), 30.1% of the receiving yards (5,372 of 17,833) and 26.4% of the touchdown catches (37 of 140).

So how will the Bills’ offense adjust to a non-Diggs world? The process kicks into gear this month. Before Diggs was traded, the team signed receivers Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins to join Khalil Shakir and they could add one in the draft’s first round on April 25.

Once the Bills get on the field, the workouts will be important for Allen to create a synergy with the new receivers. Diggs’ production in the final seven games of 2023 (no touchdowns and one game of more than 52 receiving yards) showed the Bills could win without him being a star.

The quote: “I think we do have a lot of confidence in the other players, whether it’s the receivers, the two tight ends, the (running backs) and listen, we don’t play games until September and I’m going to turn over every stone and our staff is to continue to add depth and competition,” Beane said after trading Diggs.

Analysis: Saying the Bills will have a “by-committee” passing game stirs a negative reaction. But Diggs’ departure does mean the offense will have more balance and that’s a good thing.

Buffalo Bills assistant coach Bobby Babich was promoted to defensive coordinator on Jan. 30.
Harry Scull Jr., Buffalo News

New coordinators​

What’s the story: Same guys in different roles. Last November, hours after the loss to Denver, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and made Brady the interim play-caller. He was promoted to the full-time post on Jan. 28. Coach Sean McDermott called the defensive plays last year (nobody carried the coordinator title) and Bobby Babich, previously the linebackers coach, was promoted to coordinator on Jan. 30.

Brady is a coordinator for the second time (Carolina) and the offseason program will be his chance to install his playbook/present his vision. How will the offense look? We won’t know until Week 1, but the next two months will allow him to move the figurative chess pieces around the field without having to worry about a game plan.
As for Babich, the Bills still haven’t declared him the play caller. Don’t expect a drastic scheme change – this will still be McDermott’s defense.

The quote: “I thought Joe picked up the torch during (last) season in a great way. Now he has a chance to take a deep breath and reset things and get them the way he wants them to be, whether it’s terminology, whether it’s some of the system in terms of volume (and) growing it (or) tightening it down,” McDermott said of Brady last month.

Analysis: Come on, Sean, make it official so Babich can freely talk about the excitement of the promotion and how he will approach the task. As for Brady, it will be interesting to get his view on working again with Samuel (they were together in Carolina) and how he thinks Kincaid can be used.

OL shuffling​

What’s the story: On March 5, the Bills agreed to trade 2022 starting left guard/2023 back-up center Ryan Bates to the Chicago Bears for a fifth-round pick. The assumption was that meant Morse would be back. Wrong – he was cut a day later and signed with Jacksonville.

So now what at center? McGovern, last year’s left guard, will get the first shot. Including the postseason, a breakdown of McGovern’s career starts – 25 at left guard, 21 at right guard and two at center.

The Bills re-signed David Edwards, who was a back-up guard/jumbo-package tight end last year, and he will get a chance to play left guard.
The quote: “Connor has (center) in his background – not a ton, but he’s done it before so we’ll see where it goes. David was a great addition to our team and his role last year, he was very unselfish in his approach,” McDermott said.

Analysis: The Bills are taking a gamble here. It’s not that McGovern can’t play center, it’s just that he has very little experience there and he will be working with a new left guard. Specifically during OTAs, when 11-on-11 work is permitted, the Bills can start the communication process for Allen-McGovern and Edwards-McGovern-right guard O’Cyrus Torrence.

Safety situation​

What’s the story: For most of the last seven years, the Bills could count on the safety duo of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. But Poyer was cut on March 6 and signed with Miami and Hyde remains unsigned and has not made an announcement on if he wants to play this year.

The Bills re-signed Taylor Rapp, a back-up last year, and Kansas City’s Mike Edwards and if the ball was rolled out today, they would be the starting duo. The next two months will be key for them to get to know each other and for McDermott/Babich deciding where the two players are best deployed.

And once the draft rolls around, the Bills can add a safety or wade back into free agency.

The quote: “Right now, we have those guys and we wouldn’t close the door if there’s another opportunity to add somebody (in) free agency or the draft,” Beane said last month.

Analysis: This should be the Bills’ pitch to free-agent safety Justin Simmons. “Look, Justin, you’ve been second-team All-Pro four times in the last five years and have 30 interceptions in eight years for Denver, but you haven’t played in a postseason game. Sign a one-year deal with us and use our success to help re-set your market.” It would be a win-win for both team and player.