The Lineup: Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Baker
The Lowdown: Buffalo is going to give Edwards another season to prove he can stay healthy for 16 games and perform. As the team should. When able, Edwards is an efficient pocket passer with great field vision. Despite an inferior offensive line and inconsistency at receiver, Edwards completed 65.5 percent of his passes (6th best in the NFL).
After supplying him with possibly the most freakish talent (and ticker) to ever play wide receiver, the Bills eliminated the no-supporting-cast excuse. Edwards will need to deliver in 2009 – as he should. A refreshing breath of fresh air from the juvenile J.P. Losman, Edwards brings a calming influence to the franchise. The entire western front of New York State is worried what will happen to the team when Ralph Wilson dies. A steady, even-keel leader like Edwards can help quell fears in the short-term.
Fitzpatrick didn't come cheap this offseason. The Bills are forking up some major dough for a backup quarterback. If he sticks around in all three years of his contract, Fitzpatrick will bank $8.25 million – more if he plays. See, life as a backup ain't too shabby after all.
As for his potential, hard to say. Fitzpatrick has been hot-and-cold throughout his career. His arm is not strong as Fitzpatrick often had trouble pushing the ball downfield to Cincinnati's elite crop of wideouts. Can't blame Buffalo here, though. Edwards history of injuries needed to be safeguarded this offseason. Rather than bring in a veteran that'd threaten Edwards job, the Bills chose a serviceable backup.
The Draft: The Bills don't need to draft Mark Sanchez or Matthew Stafford if either falls into their laps at No. 11. But after Jay Cutler was dealt to Chicago, Buffalo could be in a strategic position to deal its first round pick. The Denver Broncos, at No. 12, would almost certainly draft one of these two top prospects if they slipped through the cracks to them.
That being said, quarterback-starved teams like the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers could raid Russ Brandon's phone with the king's ransom for No. 11. Also, don't discount the Detroit Lions pulling a Cleveland. Two years ago, the rebuilding Browns drafted Joe Thomas at No. 3 and traded back into the first round to snag Brady Quinn when he free-fell. The Lions would certainly pounce at the No. 11 pick if they decide to take Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith at No. 1 overall. With the 20th overall pick, the Lions may have the best ammo to move up into Buffalo's slot.
At which point Brandon should oblige. The Bills have major needs at multiple positions. Adding another second-round pick or late first-rounder would be genius. A starting defensive end can be had later. Connor Barwin and Robert Ayers aren't too far behind the upper-echelon talent-wise. Barwin especially is the pass rushing threat the defense is lacking sorely. He started his string of visits in Buffalo and said the team appeared to be interested. Though raw – Barwin played defensive end for one season – he has the potential to be the next big thing on the edge. At 260 pounds, Barwin ran a 4.4 in the 40 at Cincinnati's pro day. He's almost guaranteed to be available at Detroit's 20th overall pick. So, why not deal down and pick up another first-day pick in the process? The Cutler trade could have inadvertently helped Buffalo rebuild.
Be alert on draft weekend. The Bills could hold a major bargaining chip.
Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of BuffaloFootballReport.com and also writes for The Packer Report. Contact him at email@example.com.