The Buffalo Bills have their work cut out for them in the 2017 offseason. With only 44 players signed as of February 8, 2016, that means the team will need to replenish more than half of the roster they take to training camp in late July.
Adding to that overhaul, the Bills have a total of 34 free agents to have to make a decision on in the offseason. There are 23 unrestricted free agents, 8 restricted free agents, and 3 exclusive rights free agents.
Leading up to the start of free agency, 7ABC will take a look at each of the unrestricted and restricted free agents that the Bills will be forced to make a decision on.
Next up, a defensive lineman that grew from a fringe roster player to a starter in 2016:
DT Corbin Bryant
2016 Stats: 8 games (6 starts), 11 tackles
Career Stats: 56 games (18 starts), 84 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
The case for Corbin Bryant
- Bryant has worked his way up from a player on the roster bubble, to a mainstay in the rotation by the time his Bills contract was all said and done. His 2015 season was especially impressive, working mainly as a five-technique defensive end in Rex Ryan's 3-4 defensive scheme, he showed a lot of ability not only to get past his man and into the backfield but to hold up at the point of attack, which helped his defensive teammates make plays against the run. A more natural 4-3 defensive tackle, bringing Bryant back into Sean McDermott's scheme would make a lot of sense given his style of play. Coming off a shoulder injury, he likely isn't on the radar of a lot of teams, meaning the Bills could probably bring him back on a cost-effective contract, considering the type of impact he had.
The case against Corbin Bryant:
- The 2015 season was referenced as evidence to bring Bryant back, but the 2016 season might work against him -- though part of it isn't his fault. First, he played out of position at nose tackle the whole summer and through the time that Marcell Dareus was either suspended or injured at the beginning of the season. He just didn't have the body type to hold up as the center of the defensive line and struggled much more than he had in the 2015 season. Second, he also had his season ended prematurely due to a shoulder injury, and at 29-years old, perhaps the Bills might just want to get younger players along with Adolphus Washington to make up the rotation moving forward.
What should the Bills do?
- If I'm the Bills, Bryant is one of the first calls I make to the next tier of upcoming free agents on the team's list. I believe Bryant can thrive in Sean McDermott's defense, and he would serve as a low-cost potential starting option for the team -- which is more important than you might be thinking. Over the past several years, Bills fans have mainly enjoyed a lot of depth along the defensive line. Simply put, that just doesn't exist anymore. Adolphus Washington is a question mark considering his performance last season, and how he fits into McDermott's scheme. Jerel Worthy is still there, but he's mostly been a 3-4 defensive end in his time in the league. Plus, if Kyle Williams retires, that creates a huge hole in the middle of the defensive line. The Bills should bring Bryant back this offseason because he is a known commodity that can work in this scheme as a rotational player at least.