Can you Digg it? Sorry, I couldn't resist.
One full week into NFL free agency and we've already charted into a new era (no pun intended) in the AFC East. With Tom Brady moving on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the division looks as open as it's ever been. We will see New England enter the season without Brady starting under center on opening weekend for the first time since Bill Clinton was in office in 2000. I was in kindergarten
With No. 12 moving on, and the Bills making moves, this will be Buffalo's first legit chance at winning the division in years. The last time the Bills did that? 1995 — the year I was born.
Let's not focus on the past but look at what's to come. We got woken up by another late-night Brandon Beane bomb last Monday that highlighted a week's worth of moves to discuss. Here's some of my thoughts on the Bills' first week of the 2020 free agency period:
Trading for a player like Stefon Diggs is the kind of jolt an offense needs after ranking 23rd in points and 26th in passing yards per game, respectively, in 2019. Diggs is one of the league's most dynamic receivers, coming off of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and tying for fourth in the league last year with a career-best 17.9 yards per catch.
Diggs was also one of just three receivers last season to hit the 1,000-yard mark on less than 100 targets, showing how efficient the Maryland product is.
Did the Bills give up a lot for him? If you compare it to the DeAndre Hopkins deal, then sure. But giving up a 2020 first-round pick and a 2021 fourth-rounder, on top of a fifth and sixth this year, really is worth it in my estimation.
The Bills brought in a proven commodity, one of the game's true playmakers, for what amounts to two premium draft picks. I know this might be one of the deepest receiver drafts in memory, but to get Diggs in the middle of his prime at age 26, and to have him under contract for the next four seasons, I'll take this type of deal any day of the week.
You've also gotta think what this does for the receiver room, for Josh Allen and for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Not only does this push John Brown to No. 2 and Cole Beasley to your No. 3 receiver, but you give a young quarterback one of the league's best weapons, and your OC now has the most respected target he's had in his Bills tenure.
Whether he's lining up out wide or in the slot, Diggs should give Jets, Dolphins and Patriots fans nightmares during his stay in Orchard Park.
The Bills did not need to overhaul the defense, coming off a second straight season of being ranked top three in defensive yardage allowed. It's tough seeing guys like Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson moving on, but the money they would have taken freed Buffalo to make additions with those subtractions.
Bringing in guys like Mario Addison, Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson, A.J. Klein, E.J. Gaines and Josh Norman, all seem to be low-risk, high-value moves with the potential for upside.
Addison has had nine or more sacks the last four seasons, Jefferson comes from a comparable system and winning culture in Seattle, and Butler is a 2016 first-round pick coming off a career-high six sacks. Klein seems to be a worthy replacement for Lorenzo Alexander at strongside linebacker, and Norman and Gaines can rotate opposite of Tre'Davious White along with Levi Wallace at corner.
Adding in strong special teamers like Tyler Matakevich and Taiwan Jones doesn't hurt the team either.
It's crucial to add defensive pieces around a young core that includes White, Wallace, Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, Ed Oliver and Harrison Phillips. This also takes some of the pressure off of vets like Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer as they patrol the back end.
It also doesn't hurt that all of those new guys, excluding Jefferson, played for head coach Sean McDermott back in his Carolina days — or in Buffalo, in Gaines' case. Who would've thunk it, Beane and McDermott bringing in another swarm of their "guys" from the Panthers.
Speaking of their guys, you've gotta like what the Bills did with keeping players in house.
Re-sign and dine
I've already talked about guys like Wallace and Poyer, who Buffalo has re-signed in more under the radar moves. Add in offensive lineman Quinton Spain and the Bills brought back three starters back from a 2019 playoff team.
The Bills were able to restructure their deal with Tyler Kroft, leaving the team free of his contract after this season. They were also able to bring back receiver/return man Isaiah McKenzie on a rather inexpensive deal and keep sub-package depth in the secondary by bringing back Dean Marlowe.
I was very enthused by the Spain deal particularly, as Buffalo brought back one of its biggest surprises from the '19 season on a three-year extension. With so many questions being addressed already, it excites me knowing that Buffalo has options with its plans moving forward.
Does it go after a veteran running back to compliment Devin Singletary, or does it wait until the draft? What low key moves are still out there to make? How does it address paying White?
After his 2019 First Team All-Pro selection, it's evident that White is the Bills' biggest impending decision. Generally, a player of his caliber works out a deal with his team as he enters the final year of his contract.
With White clearly outperforming his rookie deal and his potential 2020 earnings coming in at $3.2 million, it'd be in the Bills best interest to get a deal done ahead of the season. Just to put that into context, the Dolphins have the second- and third-highest average CB salaries with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard scheduled to make $16.5 million and $15.05 million per year, respectively, over the next five years.
As great as both Jones and Howard are, White could garner even more money with his All-Pro distinction and tying for the league lead in picks last year. If Buffalo waits it out and another big season comes for the 25-year-old, it may have to break the bank for a young star in his prime at one of the league's premier positions.
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting many things in the sports world on hold, though, it'll be interesting to see if the Bills can get a deal together to keep their best player in town before the 2020 season kicks off.
That's if we even get a 2020 season.
Free agency grade: A-
Respond to sports reporter Khari Demos on Twitter @riri_demos or at email@example.com. Also, tune in to Khari on the ‘Greater WNY Sports Connection’ podcast, a collaboration with Jon Simon and WNY Athletics.