5 pressing questions as the Bills head into the 2024 season

Following Sunday’s Super Bowl, the NFL officially enters its offseason. That means it’s time to focus on what the Buffalo Bills can expect in free agency, the draft, and beyond.

It’s going to be a busy offseason in Buffalo, so let’s look ahead to the next several months and answer a few urgent concerns for the Bills.

What are the key dates to remember on the NFL calendar?
A concise synopsis of the main dates of the offseason, including free agency, the NFL Draft, and OTAs, is provided below:

February 20: Clubs can nominate Franchise or Transition Players until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 7.
The NFL Scouting Combine takes place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, from February 27 to March 4.
March 5 is the deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

March 13: The 2024 league year begins, and free agency begins at 4:00 p.m. ET.
The Annual League Meeting will take place in Orlando, Florida, from March 24-27.
On April 15, clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout regimens.
The 2024 NFL Draft takes place in Detroit, Michigan, from April 25 to 27.

What dynamic will OC Joe Brady and DC Bobby Babich bring to their expanded roles?
Buffalo hired offensive and defensive coordinators immediately after the season concluded, elevating interim OC Joe Brady to the full-time position and promoting linebackers coach Bobby Babich to DC.
Buffalo Bills' opponents for 2024 season finalized

Both have been important members of the Bills’ staff over the last few seasons and will now play crucial coaching responsibilities. One of the topics to watch this summer is how each coach

is able to make their mark on Buffalo’s offense and defense.

Under Brady, the Bills averaged 27.1 points per game in seven regular season and two postseason games, scoring 30 or more points in four of them, and finished 7-2. QB Josh Allen scored 24 touchdowns during that time, 11 of which were rushing.

Prior to being named Buffalo’s offensive coordinator on January 28, Allen praised Brady’s midseason performance.

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“I love Joe. “I love what he brings to this team, to our offense, the energy he has, the passion he has for football,” Allen said the day after Buffalo’s season ended. “We ran the

ball incredibly well, adhered to that. I believe we returned to some basic principles. Did well with him.”

Allen believes that a complete offseason under Brady will result in an evolution of the Bills’ offense heading into 2024.
“I think, again, we didn’t have his entire touch and his entire flair on this system,” Allen went on to say. “So I know if that’s the road we take, there’ll be a little bit of a change in terms of how we do things, which I’m hoping for, as well as some good chats with him. And just seeing what could be excites me.”

Head coach Sean McDermott added, “I thought Joe did a really nice job coming in and building great communication.”

Babich was promoted on Jan. 30 to defensive coordinator after spending the last two seasons as the linebackers coach and the safeties coach prior to that. Viewed as a rising young defensive mind in the league, Babich has built a resume in Buffalo known for getting the most out of the position groups he’s coached.

In the last two seasons alone, Babich has mentored LBs Matt Milano, Terrel Bernard and Tyrel Dodson — all players that have made a big impact on defense.

“Good coach. Bobby and I have been together a number of years, going back to our time together in Carolina,” McDermott said. “He’s developed players, and I think when you evaluate a coach, it’s — are you taking what you have and making it better? And I think it doesn’t get any, need to get any more complex than that. And Bobby’s done that.”

However, it remains to be seen whether McDermott or Babich will call the defensive plays next season. The next time we’ll get a chance to hear from McDermott will be during the NFL Combine at the end of the month.

It will be interesting to see how Brady can help Buffalo’s offense go forward and how Babich can continue to develop the young players on defense in 2024.
The Bills have more draft picks than last year; how will this affect their draft strategy?
Buffalo possesses nine picks in the 2024 NFL Draft (six of their own, three acquired through trades), and Beane expects that number to increase to ten if compensatory picks are issued.

“I think when we get a comp pick, I think we’re gonna be at 10 draft picks,” he told reporters.

Currently, seven of Buffalo’s nine picks are in the fourth round or later. The Bills have their own first-round (28th overall) and second-round picks. After the 2023 Draft, Beane stated that he believes the Bills would receive a 2024 third-round compensation pick.

With so many picks coming up, Beane believes capitalizing on them is critical to the team’s future success.
“We’re going to need to hit this draft and we need to hit every draft,” he told reporters.

Buffalo’s staff has demonstrated an ability to identify potential in any round of the draft, particularly in the latter rounds.

Dating back to the 2018 NFL Draft the following players were selected by the Bills in the third round or later: NCB Taron Johnson (Rnd. 4, 2018), TE Dawson Knox (Rnd. 3, 2019), WR Gabe Davis (Rnd. 4, 2020), CB Dane Jackson (Rnd. 7, 2020), OT Spencer Brown (Rnd. 3, 2021), LB Terrel Bernard (Rnd. 3, 2022), WR Khalil Shakir (Rnd. 5, 2022), CB Christian Benford (Rnd. 6, 2022).

That track record bodes well for the amount of late-round picks the Bills have for this year’s draft.

As for which position groups the Bills could target, wide receivers who create mismatches on the field appear on the team’s wish list.

“We’re always looking for mismatches and I said that when we drafted Dalton (Kincaid), when we brought (James) Cook here — trying to find various mismatches. So, yes, any guy that causes the defense that you can put them in a look and get them where you can dictate to them. And if that’s another receiver to offset Stef or whoever else, yes, we wouldn’t hesitate to do that,” Beane said.
The Bills also have 13 free agents on the defensive side of the ball. While the team will look to resign as many as they can, the reality of their cap situation is that they won’t be able to bring everyone back. Because of that, Buffalo is likely to invest draft picks on that side of the ball.

When asked if he sees the talent in this year’s draft class as one where the Bills could land an immediate defensive starter in the first 100 picks, Beane seemed optimistic about the talent available.

“I think we will. I mean, it is early, so I don’t want to totally say yes we got this,” Beane shared. “We’ll sit here for two weeks with our scouts before the combine. Ask me at the Combine and I can probably tell you a lot more than I could today.”

How will the Bills handle free agency?
One of the next most important events on the NFL calendar is free agency, which begins on Wednesday, March 13 at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Bills have 21 unrestricted free agents and a lot of work to do to be under the salary cap in 2024.

GM Brandon Beane stated that, while they are challenges the Bills will confront, the true situation of their roster building and salary cap is not as awful as it appears at the time.

“Yeah, it’s not. We don’t have the same money we had going into 2019, 2020. But we will work around it. We’re not planning to take a year off and just not be competitive,” he said.

To work around those issues, Beane expects that their free agent signings this spring will include a mix of one-year deals that wouldn’t impact their cap room for future seasons.

“The one year deals, yes, we’ll have to do some of that. We’ll have to be selective. I think we will sell the fact that this is a team that’s gotten to where we’ve gotten — not all the way where we want but it’s a competitive team. And when it’s close, I feel like Josh Allen and what we’ve done here will be an attractive option,” he said.
An offseason mirroring last year’s approach to free agency may not produce a splash signing, but Beane is confident that between the draft and free agency, the Bills can build a roster capable of competing for a Super Bowl.

An offseason mirroring last year’s approach to free agency may not produce a splash signing, but Beane is confident that between the draft and free agency, the Bills can build a roster capable of competing for a Super Bowl.

“I’m not laying my head down at night going ‘we don’t have a shot at it’ next year,” he said.

One of the position groups to monitor in free agency is the defensive line position. The Bills have eight free agents along their defensive front.

“We undoubtedly have some hurdles. We do. “And it’s critical that we spend every dollar wisely,” Beane stated.

While others may consider three consecutive divisional round losses as a warning to abandon their approach, Beane disagreed and believes the Bills are still in a good position to triumph. And, with little modifications year after year, he believes Buffalo will learn from its playoff exits and find a way to advance soon.

“We’re extremely disappointed, nobody’s more disappointed than me. I’m also not gonna just throw the whole season out and say, ‘Let’s tear this thing up and start over’,” Beane shared. “And we will be in that situation again and you hope with experience and time on task and more opportunities that those three to five plays that I was talking about, we’ll make them and we’ll advance to the next round.”
Which matchups standout most on the 2024 schedule?
While the dates, times and TV networks won’t be announced until the spring, we do know all 17 of Buffalo’s 2024 opponents and where each will be played. The Bills will host eight games in Highmark Stadium and travel to play nine games on the road. They will not play in any International Games next season.

Because the Bills won the AFC East, they will host the Chiefs and 49ers and will travel to play Baltimore and Detroit, who both won their respective divisions. In addition, the Bills will play the AFC South and NFC West teams.

Buffalo will face seven playoff teams: the Chiefs, 49ers, and Dolphins at home, and the Ravens, Lions, Rams, Texans, and Dolphins on the road.

Because the Chiefs’ game will be played in Buffalo, the Bills are not eligible to play in the NFL season opener. Interestingly, the Bills will meet the previous year’s Super Bowl champion for the sixth consecutive season in 2024.

The Bills will also face three teams with first-year head coaches (Seahawks, Titans, and Patriots x2). The Seahawks hired Ravens DC. Mike Macdonald, the Titans hired Bengals’ OC

Brian Callahan and the Patriots promoted linebackers coach Jerod Mayo to head coach.

Macdonald, 36, is the NFL’s youngest head coach entering next season, and he hired former Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier as Seattle’s assistant head coach.

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