CAPACCIO: Thoughts on a wild 24 hours from the Bills

Here are some thoughts on what’s transpired with the Buffalo Bills over the last 24 hours or so:
  • Maybe the Bills found out Tom Brady was definitely leaving the New England Patriots. Maybe Brady saw Stefon Diggs get traded to the Bills just hours after seeing DeAndre Hopkins go to the Arizona Cardinals, realizing neither would be joining him in New England if he returned. But both the Diggs trade and Brady’s meeting with Robert Kraft happened late Monday night, and I believe the two are related. Either Bills general manager Brandon Beane decided to strike, knowing the AFC East window is as wide-open as it can be, or Brady decided to bolt knowing he wasn’t getting the help he wanted and needed. 
  • Last offseason, the Bills were considered to have the weakest wide receiver corps in the entire NFL by many. Just 12 months later, they could very well be in the conversation for having one of the best. Two legitimate outside players, excellent route runners, deep threats in Diggs and John Brown, and one of the better slot receivers in the game in Cole Beasley. Last year combined, the trio added up for 202 receptions for 2,968 yards and 18 touchdowns. Ironically, each player had six receiving touchdowns. The depth chart includes Robert Foster, Duke Williams, and Andre Roberts. 
  • It’s not just about the stats with the three wideouts. Diggs, Brown, and Beasley will complement each other in their roles really well in Brian Daboll's 11-personnel offense. According to Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis, the Bills used 11 personnel (three wide receivers) on 80% of their offensive snaps from Week 11 through Week 17, the most in the NFL during that time. 
  • The addition of Diggs, and especially the price the Bills paid to get him, is just as much about Josh Allen than anyone or anything. The Bills quarterback is going into his third season and the team is expecting him to take another giant step forward, just as he did in Year 2. Given the weapons he’ll be surrounded with now, he should give Beane and the organization a clear sign if he’s the player they think he is, and if they should continue forward with him beyond 2020. Let me be clear. I believe the Bills think and are operating as if Allen is their franchise quarterback going forward. They’re not looking for him to prove it, or simply hoping a player like Diggs gets him there. They have faith in him and wanted to help accentuate his skills, but he needs to confirm it. It’s now on Allen to reward them and their faith in him. The Bills will have to decide on picking up his fifth-year option by May of next offseason. Both sides would like nothing better than to have that happen, without hesitation. 
  • As far as the price paid for Diggs, it’s always a lot when you give up a first rounder, then the Bills parted with three more picks on top of that, including a fifth and sixth rounder this year, and a fourth next year. A lot of people will question them considering how deep and talented this wide receiver class is, but as I’ve said for several weeks now, the chances of getting a wide receiver that could step right in and be your No. 1 guy were pretty slim, especially at No. 22 overall. That’s what the Bills needed. They can also still add to the group with the picks they have, but whether it was at 22 or later in the draft, almost any wideout they chose would take a little time to become the top-end type of talent they need and want right now for Allen. Diggs is only 26-years-old and already a proven top wide receiver in the NFL. He will step right on as their No. 1 guy. No waiting time needed. Also, before the trade the Bills had nine draft picks. Given the current state of the roster, there’s almost no way nine drafted rookies were going to make the team. The Bills didn’t need all of those picks.  
  • Good for Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips. They got deals they earned and teams felt they deserved. But every situation and team is different, and roughly $10 million a year for either was too rich for my blood for the roles each would play on the Bills going forward. 
  • Mario Addison‘s $10 million per-year deal with the Bills scares me a bit, as well, given he’s going to be 33-years-old this year. But according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the bulk of that will be in the first year ($14 million), which really makes it an expensive one-year contract then “we’ll see.” But also, Addison didn’t enter the league until he was 24, didn’t really play a regular role until 2013, and never even played more than 50% of the defensive snaps on his team until three years ago. He’s got a lot less tread on his body than most 32-year-old defenders. Addison’s best years are also his most recent, with no less than nine sacks in each of the past four years. If you didn’t know his age, you think he was an ascending player, not question if he was about to decline. 
  • Many will poke fun at the Bills for signing another former Carolina Panthers player in linebacker A.J. Klein, but this was a smart move. He can play all three linebacker positions, allowing the team to use an extra roster spot on another defensive back, wide receiver, special teamer, or whatever. I don’t think he’s just going to be a backup, playing only when others get hurt, either. He can play multiple roles on the second-level, and give Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier a chance to play some chess with their personnel versus weekly and down-to-down matchups. 
  • Thinking about the additions they’ve already reportedly made and what still needs to be done, I think cornerback could still very well be in play early in the draft for the Bills. Even though they signed Josh Norman to compete for the outside spot opposite Tre’Davious White, they still need young blood and depth there, both inside and outside.

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