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Kyle Williams leads American Century Championship after Day 1by Matt Warren on July 11, 2020 at 11:15 am
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images Kyle’s the man! Former Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Kyle Williams leads the American Century Championship following Day 1. He is five points ahead of defending champion and heavy favorite Tony Romo, who is tied in second place with former major league pitcher John Smoltz. Williams shot a 70 on the day, three strokes better than Romo and two better than Smoltz. The ACC is a modified stableford scoring system, meaning different points are awarded for different scores on the hole. You get one point for a par, three points for a birdie, and six points for an eagle. A bogey nets zero points and a double bogey or worse loses two points. Williams had five birdies and three bogeys on his card, plus ten pars for his 25 points. He birdied his final hole to take the commanding five-point lead. “Well, I’m here holding it down for the 300-plus pound guys,” said Williams after the round. “I may not be there anymore, but I used to be. So I’m a card-carrying member. So big boys can play too.” Williams was always known as one of the best athletes on the Bills when he played in Buffalo. He was a talented swimmer, pounded the ball in charity softball games and home run derbys, and was known as a scratch golfer. “He’s got a great swing. He’s a great guy. I’m happy for his score today, I think it’s cool,” said Romo at the end of round one. “That’s the other part, you don’t see a lot of linemen come out and play great golf. And he’s just a rare guy who has a unique ability for hand/eye coordination and to take that to the golf course.” Former Bills QB Doug Flutie is tied for 56th with Bills Hall of Fame WR Andre Reed tied for 59th. Former Bills OC & Interim head coach Anthony Lynn is 64th, just ahead of former Bills RB Reggie Bush. You can livestream the rounds on Saturday and Sunday on NBCSports.com or watch on NBC TV from 3 to 6 PM Eastern. It’s rebroadcast at 10 PM Eastern on Golf Channel.
91 players in 91 days: QB Matt Barkleyby Sean Murphy on July 11, 2020 at 11:05 am
Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images The backup to Josh Allen has been a solid veteran presence to help the young starter develop The backup quarterback of any NFL team often enjoys quite a few perks. For the Buffalo Bills, the backup quarterback is often the most popular guy on the team, as anyone who heard fans clamor for Frank Reich to start over Jim Kelly can attest (yes, this actually happened, although I’m not sure exactly how serious these people were). Backup quarterbacks often have their own uniform, involving a clipboard, a baseball cap (sometimes worn backwards!), and in the winter months in places like Buffalo, a big, puffy jacket to keep them warm. But what happens when the bubble bursts and the backup is pressed into action on the football field? I’m joking, of course, when I’m minimizing the importance of a backup quarterback to a football team. Think about it: The backup quarterback is the one guy who everyone hopes never has to play, but when he does, he could be the guy to save a season (Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Nick Foles) or sink it (Curtis Painter, Brett Hundley, Doug Johnson) when called into action. In today’s edition of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile the player that nobody wants to see play for Buffalo, but if he has to, we all hope that he can keep the ship afloat. Name: Matt BarkleyNumber: 5Position: QBHeight/Weight: 6’2”, 234 lbs. Age: 29 (30 on 9/8/2020)Experience/Draft: 8; selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round (No. 98 overall) of the 2013 NFL DraftCollege: USCAcquired: Signed with Buffalo on 10/31/18 Financial situation (per Spotrac): Barkley enters the final year of the two-year contract he signed in December 2018. That contract is worth $4 million in total, of which $600,000 is guaranteed. For the 2020 season, Barkley carries a cap hit of $2.025 million, and the Bills would be wearing a $200,000 dead-cap charge if they were to release Barkley. 2019 Recap: Barkley made two appearances last year, none of which were as magical as his 2018 start against the New York Jets. Pressed into action in Week 4 after Josh Allen took a head shot from New England Patriots safety Jonathan Jones, Barkley promptly took the Bills to the Patriots’ three-yard line before the drive stalled out on fourth down. After a couple of possessions where Buffalo essentially went nowhere, Barkley put together a few nice plays on the team’s final drive, but he was intercepted by Jaime Collins on third down with under two minutes left, effectively ending the game. Barkley finished that contest 9-of-16 passing for 127 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He did not appear in another game until the season finale against the Jets, and while his numbers were bad (18-of-35, 232 yards, 2 interceptions, 2 fumbles, 1 fumble lost), they don’t tell the whole story. Barkley was playing with second- and third-string players in a cold, windy rain and in a game that meant nothing for Buffalo’s playoff seeding. Amazingly, Barkley threw 51 passes on just 77 offensive snaps. Positional outlook: Barkley is second on the current hypothetical quarterback depth chart, behind unquestioned starter Josh Allen, and in front of rookie Jake Fromm and veteran Davis Webb. 2020 Offseason: Someone picked Matt Barkley instead of Saquon Barkley second overall in a fantasy football draft this weekend. Now I’m no stranger to being a little, how should we say, “tuned up” during a fantasy draft, but that’s something even I’ve never managed to do. 2020 Season outlook: Barkley’s roster spot is pretty safe. Buffalo made the mistake two years ago of going into a season with only Nathan Peterman (shudder) and a rookie Josh Allen on the roster, so I doubt that they’ll cut the veteran Barkley to go with Fromm and/or Webb this year. With the threat of COVID-19 looming, it’s also more likely than it’s ever been that head coach Sean McDermott will keep three quarterbacks on the roster just in case one (or more) has to be quarantined thanks to the illness. Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, I will say this: Buffalo needs a better option here, one who doesn’t need the offensive coordinator to design an entirely different playbook around him, if the team wants to truly prepare for an injury to Allen. Sure, there are few people who can combine Allen’s blend of arm strength and speed, and even fewer who are sitting around as unsigned players willing to be a backup, but the Bills have a top-three (at best) roster in the AFC, yet the whole thing rests on Allen staying healthy. Buffalo is a playoff team with Allen. Are they a playoff team with Barley at the helm? If the answer is no (and I think “no” is correct), then the team needs to look for an upgrade. They may have found one in Fromm, but I think that rather than drafting someone to mirror Allen, they drafted someone to mirror Barkley...which is the exact opposite of what I’d want them to do. In any case, this is probably Barkley’s last rodeo in Buffalo, but he’s pretty safe for 2020.
Chat w/ NickBat: Rumblings Editor Sean Murphyby nickbat on July 11, 2020 at 11:03 am
Dark horse roster candidates and future contributors Sean Murphy, one of Buffalo Rumblings editors, joins Nick as they talk about Sean’s player profiles in the 91 in 91 series on the website, who he has developed a soft spot for as a future contributor to the Buffalo Bills, and how we sees specific roster battles playing out as of now. Here is a link to the 91-in-91 scouting reports profiling every player on the Bills’ roster. #gobills #buffalobills #billsmafia #bills Subscribe to the Buffalo Rumblings podcast channel featuring Billieve, Blitzed Bills, Buffalo Rumblings Q&A, Breaking Buffalo Rumblings, The Bruce Exclusive, Chat with NickBat, and Circling the Wagons: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Google Play | Spotify | Podbean | iHeartRadio | TuneIn | Megaphone Ask Alexa or Google Home to play the Buffalo Rumblings podcast! Editor’s note: If you’re reading this in Apple News, you’ll need to click over to a web browser to hear the audio.
Camp preview: right tackle spot up in the air with solid OT depthby Sean Murphy on July 10, 2020 at 3:00 pm
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images What’s going to happen at right tackle in training camp? The Buffalo Bills invested plenty in their offensive line last offseason, signing seven players, drafting one, and handing out contracts that totaled just over $87 million. Only one player, Dion Dawkins, even remained on the 2019 roster after playing along the offensive line for the 2018 Bills. This offseason, they kept their top four offensive tackles from a year ago and added a former All-Pro to the mix while trying to upgrade the depth at the position. It’s going to be intriguing how all of it shakes out, and players that have done very well in the league could find themselves on the chopping block. Today, we take a look at the offensive tackles on the Bills’ roster. Dion Dawkins Contract status for 2020: Signed; final year of rookie deal ($1,331,030 million cap hit; $295,589 dead cap charge if cut)Age: Turned 26 on 4/26/20202019 Playing time: 16 games, 16 starts, 1016 offensive snaps (95%), 60 ST snaps (14.5%)Key 2019 statistics: 7 penalties against, 54 yards allowed, 3.5 sacks allowed, 24 sack yards allowed, 1 target, 1 catch, 1 yard, 1 touchdown Dawkins has been a great teammate and a steady force in the locker room since the team traded up in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft to select him. While he hasn’t been as good as his predecessor at left tackle, Cordy Glenn, he has been something Glenn was not in his last season with the team—available. Dawkins has not missed a game in his career, and this year, he only missed one snap in a meaningful game (he sat against the New York Jets for much of the regular season finale, but that was by design). He improved this season in terms of penalties taken and sacks allowed, but the total in each category was still higher than you’d like to see in a “franchise” left tackle. He isn’t going anywhere in 2020, but with his rookie deal set to expire at the end of the season, it will be interesting to see what type of salary he commands. For a healthy left tackle who’s still quite young, Dawkins can expect to command a salary in the range of $12-$15 million per season and could sign an extension during the season. Cody Ford Contract status for 2020: Signed; second year of rookie deal ($1,705,413 cap hit; $3,445,401 dead cap charge if cut)Age: 23 (24 on 12/28/2020)2019 Playing time: 16 games, 15 starts, 739 offensive snaps (69.1%), 59 ST snaps (14.3%)Key 2019 statistics: 7 penalties, 70 yards allowed, 3.5 sacks allowed, 22 sack yards allowed One-half of a platoon at right tackle, Buffalo’s second-round choice acquitted himself very well at times. He was outstanding, for example, against the Denver Broncos and Von Miller, one of the league’s best pass rushers. In the playoffs against J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, he held his own, although both players ended up making impact plays on the game. While some folks think he’d be better at guard, it’s pretty clear the Bills like him at tackle and he’ll get every chance to win the job outright this summer. Ty Nsekhe Contract status for 2020: Signed; final year of two-year contract ($5.2 million cap hit; $1.5 million dead cap charge if cut)Age: 34 (35 on 10/27/2020)2019 Playing time: 10 games, 1 start, 359 offensive snaps (33.6%), 36 ST snaps (8.7%)Key 2019 statistics: 5 penalties, 30 yards allowed, 0 sacks allowed The veteran was half of a platoon at right tackle in his first year with the Bills, and he was clearly the better half of that platoon. Nsekhe has absurdly long arms, and his ability in pass protection far exceeded that of his rookie counterpart Ford. He suffered an ugly ankle injury against the Miami Dolphins, but he was able to return not only for the regular-season finale, but also to play in the Wild Card game against the Houston Texans. Even though the Bills could save quite a bit on the cap next year by cutting Nsekhe, who turns 35 during the 2020 season, they would be wise to allow him to finish out the contract. Ryan Bates Contract status for 2020: Signed; second year of rookie deal ($585,000 cap hit; $0 dead money if cut)Age: 23 (24 on 1/14/2021)2019 Playing time: 8 games, 0 starts, 78 offensive snaps (7.3%), 27 ST snaps (6.5%)Key 2019 statistics: 1 penalty, 5 yards allowed, 0 sacks allowed Bates was acquired via trade with the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2019 preseason when the team needed tackle depth. He is easily Buffalo’s most versatile offensive lineman, as he is literally able to line up at any spot along the line. The team lists him as an “OL,” but we’re counting him among the tackles for balance purposes. He serves as a great camp body at worst next year and, at best, he’s someone who can be kept as the last offensive lineman on the 53-man roster in case of injury. He was a great find for Beane and company. Victor Salako Contract status for 2020: Signed reserve/future contract on 1/6/2020Age: 26 (27 on 11/4/2020)2019 Playing time: N/A (began year on IR with New York Giants; signed to Bills’ practice squad on 10/31/19)Key 2019 statistics: N/A Basically all we know about Salako is already written above. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2017, but he’s yet to appear in an NFL game. He’s a camp body. Daryl Williams Contract status for 2020: Signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract this offseason ($250,000 dead cap hit if cut)Age: 27 (28 on 8/31/2020)2019 Playing time: 16 games, 12 starts for Carolina PanthersKey 2019 statistics: 1 penalty for 5 yards, 11 sacks allowed Williams had a down year for the Panthers after switching to the left side of the line, which is why he came so cheap to Buffalo. He was a second-team All-Pro in 2017, though, and if he can return to form back on the right side, Buffalo might have a steal that can play right guard or right tackle. He could be the opening day starter or he could be a roster cut or anywhere in the middle. Brandon Walton Contract status for 2020: Signed three-year undrafted free agent contract this offseasonAge: Turned 22 on 3/18/2020Playing time: Played in 44 games in his college career for Florida Atlantic University Walton is a depth option and possible practice squad candidate for Buffalo after playing both right tackle and left tackle at FAU. He blocked for Bills RB Devin Singletary when the pair were in college together. Trey Adams Contract status for 2020: Signed three-year undrafted free agent contract this offseasonAge: Turned 23 on 3/4/2020Playing time: Started every game for Washington University in 2019 The two-time All-Pac-12 tackle went through a myriad of injuries in his college career and ran a very slow 40-yard dash at the Combine, resulting in his fall to UDFA status. (At one point he was talked about as having first round potential). He could be a big hit for the Bills, but he could also be off the roster in the first cut down. Positional Outlook The pieces are here for a solid groups at offensive tackle. Dawkins is locked in as the left tackle, but what’s going to happen at right tackle where conceivably Ford, Nsekhe, and Williams all have a shot to start. Will Buffalo keep five offensive tackles on the roster, especially with Bates having the ability to play multiple positions? Will they give a young guy a chance? They are going to be cutting NFL-caliber offensive lineman regardless (or perhaps GM Brandon Beane can orchestrate another OL trade in late August). Our guess following the draft was that they would keep all five; Dawkins, Ford, Nsekhe, Williams, and Bates. In a year of uncertainty, Buffalo would have certainty at this position. Then Adams would be a priority practice squad signing.
2019 Worst Bang for the Dollar Bills: TE Lee Smithby Matt Warren on July 10, 2020 at 2:45 pm
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports Even as a sixth lineman, he made a lot of money. Every team overpays for free agents. It’s the nature of the business that you can’t always predict future results, and even if you do, you sometimes end up overpaying for them. The Buffalo Bills are no exception and during the 2019 season they had a group of underwhelming players. Number five on our list is tight end Lee Smith. Smith had a valuable role as the sixth offensive lineman on the team but didn’t provide a great value for the them. He played fewer than 30% of the offensive snaps and fewer than 18% of the special teams snaps. He barely eked out Tyler Kroft in terms of snap count despite playing in five more games than the injured Kroft. (He even played fewer snaps than the actual sixth offensive lineman, Ty Nsekhe.) He finished the year with just four catches on five targets for 31 yards and a touchdown. (A staggering 1.9 receiving yards per game). He also had nine penalties on the season despite those low snap numbers. Smith’s cap hit of $3.5 million was 22nd among NFL tight ends, but his production was far from that level, even if you take into account how good he is at blocking. Teammate Tyler Kroft made more ($5.11 million) but starter Dawson Knox ($700,545) and reserve Tommy Sweeney ($519,046) made considerably less. Jimmy Graham led the league at $12.6 million. The Bills spent a third-round pick on Knox a year ago and a seventh on Sweeney, but didn’t add any players this offseason. It will come down to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and how much he values having a sixth offensive lineman like Smith on the team. He’s scheduled to count $3.25 million against Buffalo’s salary cap in 2020. Bottom Ten Bang for the Dollar Bills, 2019 10. K Stephen Hasuchka ($5.025 million)9. DE Jerry Hughes ($12.95 million)8. FB Patrick DiMarco ($2.15 million)7. DT Star Lotulelei ($11.5 million)6. DE Trent Murphy ($8.8 million)5. TE Lee Smith ($3.5 million)