The Buffalo Bills ended their offseason program on Thursday. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals: The Bills were able to make the playoffs last season despite having the NFL's second-worst passing offense, fourth-worst rushing defense and being tied for the league's third-fewest sacks. Buffalo attempted to address its deficiencies on defense in free agency, but the offseason will ultimately be judged on whether trading up in the draft for Josh Allen was the right move at quarterback.
Grade: Too soon to tell
Move I liked: Trading Tyrod Taylor to the Browns for a third-round pick. This deal, along with sending left tackle Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals to move up from No. 21 to No. 12 in the first round, set the table for general manager Brandon Beane's draft-day trades that landed Allen at No. 7 overall and middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds at No. 16. Time will tell whether Allen was the right choice over UCLA's Josh Rosen, but getting the first pick of the third round for Taylor -- whose trade value seemed lesser entering the offseason -- allowed Beane to move into the top 10 of the draft for a quarterback without sacrificing future draft capital.
Move I didn’t like: Signing Chris Ivory and not drafting a running back. The $1.5 million signing bonus the Bills gave Ivory pales in comparison to the investment the Bills made in defensive tackle Star Lotulelei ($25 million guaranteed) or defensive end Trent Murphy ($10.375 million guaranteed), so there is not a huge element of risk involved. However, it was strange to see Ivory, 30, tapped as the presumed No. 2 running back behind LeSean McCoy after Ivory was mostly a flopped free-agent signing in Jacksonville. The Bills easily have the NFL's oldest backfield this season without the promise of the young rushers who are finding early-career success for several other NFL teams.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Who is the starting quarterback? The Bills' quarterback competition will be the dominant theme of the summer until there is clarity about who will start Sept. 9 at Baltimore. AJ McCarron's four career regular-season and postseason starts make him the most experienced option, while the Bills seem to be giving 2017 fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman every opportunity to shake off his statistically poor rookie season and win the job. Eventually the Bills must give Allen his chance, but whether that happens in training camp, early this season, late this season or next season is up in the air.
Quotable: "We talk a lot at One Bills Drive about how the store doesn't close for the offseason. We have to stay humble and stay hungry. Unfortunately -- and I had a direct experience with this first hand in Carolina -- we made a Super Bowl [in 2015] and then you feel like, 'We just got to do this to win it.' You really don't pick up where you left off, unfortunately, in our league anymore. You got to really, in a lot of ways, start over." -- Bills coach Sean McDermott, Feb. 28, to the team's radio program
Salary-cap space: $15.1 million (source: NFLPA)
2018 draft picks: QB Josh Allen (first round), LB Tremaine Edmunds (first round), DT Harrison Phillips (third round), CB Taron Johnson (fourth round), S Siran Neal (fifth round), G Wyatt Teller (fifth round), WR Ray-Ray McCloud (sixth round), WR Austin Proehl (seventh round).
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: DE Mat Boesen (TCU), OT Ike Boettger (Iowa), K Tyler Davis (Penn State), G Gerhard De Beer (Arizona), CB Ryan Carter (Clemson), RB Keith Ford (Texas A&M), WR Robert Foster (Alabama), DE Mike Love (South Florida), FB Zach Olstad (Winona State), WR Cam Phillips (Virginia Tech), OT Mo Porter (Baylor), LB Corey Thompson (TSU) and CB Levi Wallace (Alabama).
Unrestricted free agents signed: QB AJ McCarron, RB Chris Ivory, WR Jeremy Kerley, WR Kaelin Clay, T/G Marshall Newhouse, C Russell Bodine, DE Trent Murphy, DE Terrence Fede, DE Owa Odighizuwa, DT Star Lotulelei, DT Tenny Palepoi, LB Julian Stanford, CB Vontae Davis, CB Phillip Gaines, S Rafael Bush.
Restricted free agents signed: None
Players acquired via trade: None