<
>

Bills had little need to pursue David Harris

Had New York Jets linebacker David Harris hit the open market, the expectation was that his former coach, Rex Ryan, would move quickly to try to sign him.

That won't be happening. Harris signed a three-year, $21 million extension Friday with the Jets. The deal includes $15 million in guaranteed money.

It wouldn't have made sense for the Buffalo Bills to touch that price, had Harris been able to negotiate with other teams Saturday. Even after trading Kiko Alonso, the Bills don't need a starting linebacker. Ryan's defense only requires two off-the-line linebackers, and Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham are younger, cheaper and similarly capable options.

Signing Harris to that deal would have meant him being a full-time player in the defense, relegating Brown and Bradham to part-time roles. It would have bolstered the Bills' depth at linebacker after losing Alonso but at a steep cost.

The Bills would be wise to find an affordable third linebacker to pair with Brown and Bradham. It could come from the draft or free agency, but there would have been no reason to make Harris one of the highest-paid players on the team. His Jets contract will pay Harris over $7 million per season, which would be the fourth-most on the Bills, while his $15 million in guaranteed money would have been the fifth-most of any Bills player.

When you already have Bradham and Brown, forking over that sort of cash to Harris would've been an unnecessary step. Still, this doesn't mean that the Bills should back up the Brinks truck for Jerry Hughes, their top free agent. Not being able to pursue Harris shouldn't change the Bills' valuation of Hughes, assuming they calculated one in the first place.

It wouldn't be logical to raise your offer to a player at one position just because you weren't able to sign a player at another. That's when teams get in trouble in free agency, and the Bills would be wise to avoid that sort of thinking.