Ranking the Bills’ top 10 free agents: Which players could stay, land elsewhere?


Staff member

The Buffalo Bills fell short of their Super Bowl hopes once again this season and now they’ll have to reinvent their roster once again to be a contender in 2024. But making their jobs even more difficult is how much turnover is likely to happen.

The Bills have 22 players from either their 53-man roster or injured reserve who will become unrestricted free agents on March 13. And with a massive salary cap deficit already over $50 million, the Bills likely aren’t in a position to bring a great deal of their top free agents back.

Which of their free agents could demand the most attention on the open market? Ranked in order of potential league-wide interest, here are the Bills’ top 10 players set to hit free agency in a little over one month.

1. DE Leonard Floyd

The Bills made a late-spring signing that wound up as their best, likely sensing the injured Von Miller had a way to go in his recovery. The Floyd signing yielded an every-week starter and the team’s leader in sacks this season with 10.5. Even at 31 years old, Floyd became an indispensable piece of the defense early and paired with Greg Rousseau as the top two pass rushers on the roster. Floyd did slow down near the end of the season, though, as he had only one sack over his last seven games. Regardless, Floyd can be an impact player with his length and pass-rushing awareness. He said he would follow the money and wanted to play for a Super Bowl contender.

2. WR Gabriel Davis​

Davis burst onto the national scene with his four-touchdown performance in the January 2022 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and earned a full-time starting job the following season. But the big showing was a gift and a curse because it helped solidify his starting spot but also set unrealistic expectations. Davis eventually settled into the Bills’ every-week starting X-receiver, usually playing 90 percent or more of the offensive snaps. They trusted him as a deep-ball receiver and a blocker. Davis became a boom-or-bust receiver in 2023, having five games of 85 receiving yards or more and five games without a catch. Despite the inconsistency, Davis turns 25 in April and a big payday could await as he heads toward his prime. He has already stated he will head to the open market.

3. DE A.J. Epenesa

It took Epenesa a while to find his way in the NFL, having significantly altered his body from 280-plus pounds in college to under 250 pounds as a rookie. He then began to put some weight back on before settling in around the 265-pound range in his third and fourth seasons, and that’s when he really began to see on-field results. Epenesa has a good blend of speed and power that makes him unblockable on some reps, though there is still some inconsistency to his game. Regardless, entering his age-26 season with 13 sacks in the last two seasons as only a part-time player, Epenesa has the profile of a player teams flock to in free agency. He might get a bigger contract than some might expect.

4. DT DaQuan Jones

Jones became an impact signing for the Bills when he arrived in 2022, starting every game at one-technique and helping unlock the full potential of starting three-technique Ed Oliver. Jones’ absence in the team’s playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals that season was extremely noticeable. When he returned in 2023, he was even better and added a pass-rushing component that wasn’t a huge staple of his game the prior year. When he suffered a Week 5 injury, his absence was once again noticeable as the Bills struggled to defend the run. Now 32 years old, Jones likely doesn’t have many more high-impact seasons remaining but can be a dependable starter who occupies blockers and defends the run well.

5. S Micah Hyde

A Bills starter since 2017, there is a real chance the team heads into the 2024 season with someone other than Hyde and Jordan Poyer as the starting safeties. Hyde, 33, underwent neck surgery in 2022 and battled back to return for 2023 but suffered a few different stinger injuries as his play dipped slightly this season. Hyde openly was mulling retirement the day after the season ended, a stark change from someone usually solely focused on the next season and trying to win a Super Bowl. With him as a free agent and self-professed family man, there is a real chance Hyde won’t play again. But if he does, he’d be an above-average starting option for whoever signs him.

6. LB Tyrel Dodson

If there’s one player who could have made himself a lot of money this season, it’s Dodson. Before this year, Dodson had been a special teams only player, and even to begin the year, Dodson lost the starting middle linebacker job outright to Terrel Bernard. However, once they lost starter Matt Milano for the season in Week 5, they eventually settled on Dodson at outside linebacker in a role that suited his skill set best. Dodson is a good run defender who occasionally gets caught in coverage, so the Bills developed a strategy to take him off the field on obvious passing downs. Even with that plan, Dodson showed real skill in limiting the run. Since he is turning 26 in June and has the versatility to play both linebacker positions, some team could easily offer him a legitimate pay increase from his $2 million cap hit last year.

7. S Taylor Rapp​

In 2022, the Bills’ lack of depth at safety put them at a disadvantage for much of the season, so in the ensuing offseason they made it a point to bring on a legitimate third safety with experience to be the primary backup. That was Rapp, whose market did not go as planned and the Bills got him on a low-cost one-year deal. Rapp most often served as the substitute player for Dodson when the Bills went into a dime defense and played strong safety, shifting Poyer down to more of a linebacker role. But when Rapp was needed to start for the Bills, he struggled. He was a touch too late on some big play attempts and accrued some reckless personal foul penalties that helped extend offensive drives. However, Rapp is still young at 26 years old and could find a stable starting role for a modest salary this offseason.

8. OL David Edwards

The Bills had an uncanny run of health along their offensive line, with none of their starting five missing a game this season. But if one of the guards had missed, Edwards would have been the first player into the lineup. Even without a starting job, Edwards carved out a key role for the Bills as the sixth offensive lineman they’d substitute in for heavy packages. It was a role that grew as the season progressed to help their developing run game. Edwards signed on with the Bills after an injury-riddled 2022 on a one-year prove-it deal. He stayed healthy, played well when asked, has a ton of starting experience in a blocking scheme widely used across the league and turns 27 in March. There is a case for him to land a solid deal in free agency this offseason.

9. CB Dane Jackson

Jackson served most of the season as the Bills’ top reserve cornerback but has plenty of starting experience through his four NFL seasons. Jackson is a dependable tackler who can stick with his assignment but sometimes struggles at the catch point. His best fit is likely in the same role as a third or fourth cornerback who chips in heavily on special teams, much like he did with the Bills in 2023.

10. DT Tim Settle

When the Bills signed him in 2022, they hoped the then 24-year-old Settle could turn those big-play flashes from Washington into a player who realized his potential in Buffalo. Instead, they got more of the same. Settle would have an outstanding rep every once in a while, getting instant pressure into the backfield either on a run-defending or pass-rushing rep. But that would be weighed down by several unsuccessful snaps, either getting washed out of the play as a pass rusher or getting moved off his spot in run support. Still, Settle turns 27 in July, so a team could be willing to see if he can finally live up to his potential on a low-cost deal.