The NFL free-agent market opened long ago this offseason and the 2021 NFL draft has come and gone.
Despite that, the fun isn’t over. We’ve seen the Bills even dip into late-offseason moves in recent years and ESPN is predicting that the team might do so again in the coming weeks.
Both moves have the Bills acquiring players and those two happen to be tight end Zach Ertz and defensive tackle Kawaan Short. The two deals would be much different, though.
Ertz is still an Eagles player. The Bills would have to trade for him. Here’s how analyst Bill Barnwell sees it going down:
Philadelphia Eagles get: 2022 seventh-round pick, TE Tommy Sweeney
It has become clear that Ertz’s future isn’t in Philadelphia. The Eagles didn’t offer the tight end an extension last season, owing to their cap woes, the presence of Dallas Goedert and what ended up as a disastrous campaign for the veteran. Ertz set career lows across the board in virtually every measure of any kind, a scary sign for a player who just turned 30. On top of all that, Ertz’s $12.7 million cap hit is the largest at his position in 2021.
The Eagles can save $8.5 million in cash and on their 2021 cap by moving on, but Ertz is not going to have a market at that price tag. Ertz would probably be looking at something in the $3 million to $4 million range on a one-year deal if he were released, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he took a pay cut as part of a deal.
Naturally, with coach Frank Reich and QB Carson Wentz in Indianapolis, the Colts have been popularly linked with Ertz. They already have plenty of tight ends, though, and there’s another team I think makes more sense. Bills general manager Brandon Beane proclaimed at the beginning of the offseason that his team needed to upgrade on Dawson Knox at tight end, but the only move Buffalo has made at the position is signing Jacob Hollister to a one-year deal.
Such a acquisition for the Bills would put their tight end position over the top. Dawson Knox doesn’t exactly put fear into opposing defenses and Pro Football Focus recently didn’t even think he was one of the best 32 tight ends in the NFL.
The other move via Short involves signing a player that’s currently a free agent. Barnwell sees a one-year deal worth $3 million:
This one’s too obvious, right? The Bills love adding former Panthers players, especially if they cost a fraction of their former price tag. They’ve also built a deep defensive line that relies on rotating players in and out of the lineup from snap to snap.
Short is three years removed from his last truly impactful season, and he has missed 27 games over the past two seasons with injuries. But Buffalo is where former Panthers go to revitalize their careers. The Bills may not really need another defensive lineman on paper right now, but at this price tag, the upside Short offered during his peak would be too valuable to pass up.
Between Ertz and Short, the playmaker is the much more fun move. But Short would be an important one, too. Star Lotulelei opted out last season and without him, it showed. Short would fit perfectly in that same role for the Bills. It would be similar to the signing of Mitchell Trubisky, bringing in a talented depth piece in case things go wrong.