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Bills offseason preview: Safeties

Continuing a position-by-position look at the Buffalo Bills' roster with an eye toward free agency and the draft:

Position: Safeties

2014 snaps:

Stat of note: The Bills allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 31.3 percent of their passes thrown at least 30 yards or more, tied for the 10th-highest completion rate on such plays in the league.

Pending free agents: Searcy (unrestricted)

2015 cap hits (position rank):

  • Aaron Williams: $3.9 million (21st in NFL)

  • Duke Williams: $702,563

  • Jonathan Meeks: $634,500

  • Rambo: $585,000

  • Kenny Ladler: $510,000

  • Deon Broomfield: $435,000

Money line: As part of his contract extension last spring, Aaron Williams has a $4.5-million option bonus due this year that adds the 2018 season to his deal. That gets amortized over the final three years of his contract, causing a slight spike in his cap numbers ($6.1 million in 2016, $6.625 million in 2017 and $6.825 million in 2018). In terms of average per year, he's currently the 10th-highest paid safety in the NFL. To an extent, that restricts what the Bills can offer Searcy, who is coming off his best season. If the price gets too high, the Bills can let Searcy walk while letting Duke Williams, who is still developing, slide into a starting role.

Market watch: Pending free agents include Devin McCourty, Tashaun Gipson (restricted), Rahim Moore, Mike Adams, Antrel Rolle, Nate Allen, Louis Delmas, Dawan Landry, Dwight Lowery, Searcy, Ryan Clark, Marcus Gilchrist, Quintin Demps, Ron Parker, Brandon Meriweather, Chris Conte, Kendrick Lewis, Darian Stewart, George Wilson, Sergio Brown and Stevie Brown.

Draft need: Moderate -- This would be a "low" need if Searcy re-signs. The Bills picked up two safeties (Duke Williams and Meeks) in the 2013 draft and kept two undrafted rookies (Ladler and Broomfield) last season. There are no shortage of young players at this position; it's just a matter of which ones can step up to the top of the depth chart. If Searcy signs elsewhere, it wouldn't hurt to add another name to the mix here.

Scout's take: "[Aaron] Williams is locked up for long term. I would think he would be the deep-third [of the field] guy for the next couple of years. I don't think he's going to any Pro Bowls or anything, but he has some coverage versatility. He can play some man, some deep center and he's an OK tackler. I think he's fine, especially when the pass rush is good. Another strong safety wouldn't be terrible. Bringing Searcy back wouldn't be terrible. ... If that's your worst spot in the secondary -- and you're stuck with what you have -- OK, that's not the end of the world." -- ESPN NFL scout Matt Williamson

Quote of note: "The secondary is as talented as probably any group that's not in Seattle. ... They're guys that can play. They don't have the name recognition as some of the guys but [they're a] very talented group of defensive players. We're in the process of putting it all together." -- Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, to WGR 550 on Friday