Almost everything came together perfectly for the Buffalo Bills this off-season.
General Manager Brandon Beane made many contract adjustments, shoving money around, and persuading some players to cut salaries to get below the 2021 salary cap.
This allowed them to keep key players they thought would lose, improve their backup quarterback position, and replace outgoing wide receiver John Brown with Emmanuel Sanders.
Though the free agency isn’t over yet, the move that would complete the off-season would include franchise quarterback Josh Allen entering the fourth year of a five-year rookie deal he signed after serving in the 2018 NFL draft was selected as seventh overall.
With the help of newcomer Stefon Diggs, Allen exploded last season after taking small steps again as a rookie and in 2019.
He completed 69.2% of his passes while throwing 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns en route to a passerby rating of 107.2. All of them were career highlights.
His 10 interceptions and 1.7% interception rate were career lows.
All of this helped the Bills win 13 regular season games and two more in the playoffs as Allen finished second in the MVP voting behind Green Bay counterpart Aaron Rodgers.
Beane spoke to Jim Trotter and Steve Wyche on the Huddle & Flow Podcast on Thursday and reiterated his wish to get on with the most important business soon.
“We’re really proud of Josh,” said Beane. “We’re going to work through the draft and probably sometime late spring to summer we’ll get these talks going. And who knows where they’re going. It has to be fair to them, fair to us.”
The need for speed is obvious. The sooner they can lock everyone up, the less it will cost them later, as the cost of franchise quarterbacks increases every year.
Even this year, when the salary cap was lowered to $ 182.5 million due to the coronavirus pandemic that disrupted the league’s cash flow, the Dallas Cowboys presented Dak Prescott with a four-year, $ 160 million ($ 126 million) deal Million US Dollars Guaranteed) is considered a smaller quarterback than Allen.
“It will help you with your planning the sooner you can get this deal,” said Beane. “Again, I hope we can do it, if not this year, next year. You don’t want to get into the franchise [tag] and all that stuff. It’s a tool to use when you need to keep a great player. But at the end of the day we want Josh here for the long term. We want him to be happy and of course we want it to be a deal where we can still have talented players around him because Josh is a competitor.
“He’s not wired to just pay him and then not be able to put things around him. So we’ll try to find the deal that works for him and for us.”
Though the bills have time because they can exercise the fifth year option for first round picks that would keep him in Buffalo for the next season at a relatively low cost, they’ll be aggressive knowing they are one good cause with so many players declining the chance to do more elsewhere.
Former NFL and college coach and current TV analyst Jim Mora Jr. sees only good things ahead for everyone. In an exclusive interview with Bills Central, Mora compared Allen to a Hall of Famer.
“I see a man we all know his arm talent is not in the charts,” said Mora, “but now he can throw with accuracy and he can come out of his pocket and he can throw. And I guess what really matters to him. ” His way of thinking is extremely special. He’s so competitive, he’s so damn tough, he’s got great leadership skills. You never have the feeling that you are not in the game, he makes amazing throws.
“When I look at the skills I see a John Elway, a tall, physical, tenacious and competitive player who can do all the throws.”
Mora was assistant coach to the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers during Elway’s tenure with the Denver Broncos.
“I remember going up against him and he threw the ball and I said, ‘How did he just do it? “I mean the ball bent,” said Mora. “You can’t make that throw. And you see Josh and you see the same thing. I don’t know if there is a quarterback in the league right now who can do all the throws he can do on a constant basis.
“So man, keep building around this guy and make sure you know he’s your next Jim Kelly, your bill for life.”
Nick Fierro is the editor of Bill’s Central. For the latest Bills news, visit www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter @NickFierro.