The Buffalo Bills, for the first time in many years, have had an offseason filled with moves worthy of conversation. The new approach for the Bills front office started last season when the Bills brought in veteran linebacker Nick Barnett, re-signed their best defensive lineman, at the time, Kyle Williams, and early this offseason re-signed their number one receiver, Stevie Johnson. The Bills really made a huge and surprising splash when they signed highly sought after, free agent, Mario Williams to the most expensive defensive contract in NFL history.
They followed that enormous signing of Williams, with yet another very solid acquisition, with the signing of defensive end, Mark Anderson. Not too often can Bills fans have anything to get excited about during the offseason, at least about anything previous to the draft, but this year’s excitement had come prior to any talks about who they will and should take in the NFL draft. The draft came and went and although the excitement from the draft wasn’t even close in comparison to the moves done prior to it, but the Bills ended up with a very solid and “business like” draft. The Bills did exactly what they should have and said they would do. They brought in players that filled major holes on their team, and in some players, people that can come in right away and make major contributions. Already through the first weeks of rookie training camp, players are beginning to show why the Bills drafted them where they did. Stephon Gilmore, the Bills first round selection, has been very impressive and is starting to get noticed nationally. They have already signed all but their first three selections of the draft, and obviously, barring any holdouts, they will soon reach contracts with the remaining three. The Bills rookie class may not be the best ever, but definitely are an intriguing group, and many fans look forward to the possible impact they will have on the field.
The Bills continued their impressive offseason and came to an agreement with possibly the most important piece to their offensive unit, and signed fan favorite and team leader, Fred Jackson. Jackson before his injury last year was the NFL’s leading rusher, and was putting up numbers that if continued, could have had him mentioned in the MVP race and the very least, a Pro Bowl selection. The signing of Jackson is important on many levels, as it obviously gives the Bills a consistent option at running back, but more importantly, it ensures that the Bills have their team leader back. He is a captain on the team, that is highly respected and as Freddy goes, so do the Bills. In my opinion, and no disrespect to Stevie Johnson, the signing of Jackson was the most important resigning of the offseason.
Now, just last week, the Bills have signed free agent quarterback, Vince Young to a one year, $2 million deal to add more depth and talent to the backup quarterback position. Around Buffalo, many debates have started as to the decision to bring Young in and the possible chance of a quarterback controversy. Buddy Nix has already ensured fans that Fitzpatrick is his guy and Young was brought in to compete with Tyler Thigpen for the backup role, but many fans feel the move is going to start trouble that is totally unnecessary. When you compare Fitzpatrick’s numbers to Young’s, you can see why some fans may feel this way. Young is 31-17 as a starter while Fitzpatrick is the complete opposite with a 19-31 record. Young has the big name from the big school and has won a National Championship, while Fitzpatrick is a late round draft selection, from a school known more for academics than football. Although Fitz’s numbers are not nearly as impressive as Young’s, he has become a fan favorite because of the heart and effort he displays on the field, something Bills fans haven’t seen from the quarterback position in many years.
In my opinion, I love the move of bringing Young in. It ensures that a quality backup is behind Fitzpatrick, a definite upgrade over Thigpen, and also could very much push Fitz to be better, especially after signing a long term deal last year, and with finishing the season like he did. I don’t think there is any controversy, but I do know that if Fitz’s doesn’t impress, Young will be going in. Fitz is a fan favorite and definitely respected, but because the Bills haven’t won in so long, if and when Fitzpatrick doesn’t do well, at least this year, Bills fans know that there is a quality quarterback ready to play behind him, who has somehow managed to maintain a winning record in this league.