BY DAN BEGNOCHE
Bills beat reporter Tim Graham of the Buffalo News sat down with Dolphins.com's The Finsiders recently to talk all things Buffalo, giving his insight on the team's offseason moves and the brand new coaching staff. (photo: Matt Britt, Flickr)
Graham was asked who he thought was the Bills' most significant departure during the free agency period, and his answer may surprise some.
"Levitre's the biggest name because he was the best interior offensive lineman in this year's class, and the Bills didn't make too much of an effort to sign him," Graham said. "But I think the biggest departures — I'm using plural because I'm combining them — were David Nelson and Donald Jones, the two receivers they said good-bye to because they didn't want to tender them as restricted free agents.
"That's a big hole to fill. What are they're going to do with Stevie Johnson? Are you going to move him inside? Are you going to move him into the slot and get a guy who's going to stretch the field on the outside? Are you going to leave Stevie Johnson on the outside and bring in another guy?
"I think one of the turning points on how the offense is going to evolve is going to be what they do at receiver."
A solid point, considering the only two players currently on the roster that have seen any playing time in the NFL besides Johnson are T.J. Graham and Kevin Elliot. T.J. had a less-than-stellar rookie season last year, tallying 322 yards and a heck of a lot of errors, while Elliot amassed just 108 yards in 13 games with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jones and Nelson combined for nearly 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns for Buffalo over the past few years, while more importantly pulling double coverage off of Johnson.
Graham wasn't the only one surprised by the Bills' apparent lack of interest in the two receivers, especially given that the two could have probably been bought back for less than $3 million in total. Jones has since signed with the Patriots, while Nelson recently inked a deal with the Browns.
Even Stevie's pleads to both his team and free-agent receivers around the league seemed to fall on deaf ears, as the Bills have passed on a number of strong (albeit expensive) wide receivers throughout the free agency period.
Buffalo seems to (hopefully) have a plan going forward, with the emphasis apparently on getting younger and healthier via the draft.
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