Bills GM Beane had a busy week leading into free agency
Buffalo Bills new general manager Brandon Beane addresses the media during an NFL football press conference, Friday, May 12, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018 5:39PM EDT
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Bills general manager Brandon Beane wasn't fooling around when saying he had a lot of work to do shortly after Buffalo enjoyed its first playoff appearance in 18 years.
The transformation Beane began during his first season on the job continued into Wednesday. That's when the Bills were allowed to announce the series of trades and signings completed before the NFL's new business year began.
Third-year starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was traded to Cleveland for a third-round pick in a deal agreed to Friday.
Starting left tackle Cordy Glenn was shipped to Cincinnati in a trade agreed to Monday in which the Bengals and Bills also swapped first-round picks. Buffalo moved up nine spots by acquiring the Bengals' 12th selection, while giving up the 21st pick.
As for free agents, the Bills confirmed their most high-profile addition in reaching a deal to sign former Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to a five-year contract. They added a pass-rushing specialist in defensive end Trent Murphy, who agreed to a three-year contract.
The Bills added defensive depth by agreeing to sign safety Rafael Bush and linebacker Julian Stanford to two-year contracts.
The start of the free agency signing period also meant the Bills risk losing several starters now that their contracts expired. Linebackers Preston Brown and Ramon Humber became unrestricted free agents, as did cornerback E.J. Gaines and receiver Jordan Matthews.
Buffalo's overhaul comes despite the team finishing 9-7 and ending a 17-year playoff drought, the longest active streak in North America's four professional sports. The Bills were eliminated following a 10-3 loss to Jacksonville in the AFC wild-card playoff game.
Beane was already looking ahead to making changes a few days after the loss.
"We have a long way to go, we really do," Beane said. "We have a lot of work to do."
The Bills strengthened their defensive line by adding Lotulelei, a five-year starter at Carolina. He will play alongside Kyle Williams, who returns for a 13th season after agreeing to a one-year contract on Tuesday.
Murphy has the potential of improving the pass rush, which finished tied for 30th in the NFL with just 27 sacks last season. He spent the past four seasons in Washington after being selected in the second round of the 2014 draft. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he had 15 sacks in 47 games, including nine in 2016.
Murphy missed all of last season after tearing two ligaments in his left knee in a preseason game against Baltimore. Had he not been injured, Murphy would have missed the first four games of the season serving an NFL suspension for violating the NFL's performance enhancers policy.
The most notable position of need not addressed was quarterback, with 2017 fifth-round draft pick Nathan Peterman the only one left on the Bills roster. Beane previously said he intended to add a veteran quarterback this off-season to provide experience.
The trades Buffalo completed also strengthened Beane's position should he target one of the highly touted quarterback prospects in the draft next month. The Bills have two picks in each of the first three rounds, including the 22nd overall. They provide Beane assets to trade up further in the first round and still leave Buffalo with enough picks to stock other positions.
Previously, Buffalo signed cornerback Vontae Davis, who had been released by Indianapolis in November. The Bills addressed the backup spot behind starting running back LeSean McCoy by signing Chris Ivory. And they also signed defensive end Owa Odighizuwa.
Several holes remain including centre, after Eric Wood was diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.
Beane's roster overhaul began shortly after he was hired in May to replace Doug Whaley, who was fired a day after last year's draft.
He traded starting receiver Sammy Watkins and starting cornerback Ronald Darby on the same day in August. He also traded high-priced defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville in October.
Not including Wood, there are only 14 players left on Buffalo's roster who played for the team in 2016.