The 2023 NFL offseason has officially started. Organizations are having very active offseasons with the goal of taking their rosters to the next level. This is the case with the Buffalo Bills.
In the 2022 regular season, the Bills finished with a 13-3 record and clinched the AFC East. This marked the third year in a row that they won their division.
After being considered a Super Bowl frontrunner throughout 2022, the Bills’ season came to an end in the AFC Divisional round. Buffalo was not a match for the Cincinnati Bengals, losing 27-10 despite playing at home.
With hopes of finally winning the Super Bowl, Buffalo's offseason is crucial. The moves the front office makes in the next few weeks can make or break the Bills' upcoming season.
So far, the team has secured the return of safety Jordan Poyer and signed wide receiver/return specialist Deonte Harty and guard Connor McGovern. However, Buffalo has also lost running back Devin Singletary and still has many pending free agents who were starters in 2022.
Because of that, the Bills might need to focus on certain areas for the remainder of the offseason. With that being said, here is the Buffalo Bills' biggest need to address after the first week of the NFL free agency.
Bills' biggest need after first week of NFL free agency: middle linebacker
Perhaps the biggest loss the Bills suffered this offseason so far was the departure of Tremaine Edmunds. The linebacker signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the Chicago Bears after spending the first five years of his career in Buffalo.
He appeared in and started 15 total games, including two in the postseason. Edmunds finished the regular season with a team-high 102 tackles with 66 being solo and six tackles for loss. He also registered an interception and a sack in 2022.
With his help, Buffalo's defense finished in the top 10 in fewest rushing yards and rushing touchdowns allowed. Additionally, the Bills allowed just 17.9 points per game, the second-best mark in the league.
Edmunds was a team captain for multiple seasons, which means he likely had an important role both on and off the field. Without him, Buffalo will probably need to find a new leader in the locker room.
On the field, the Bills will need to find a new starting middle linebacker. Currently, they have Tyrel Dodson, Terrel Bernard, Baylon Spector and Tyler Matakevich who could take that role.
The problem is that only Dodson has extended experience on defense. Last season, he played 20.9% of the team's defensive snaps. However, the four players spent most of their times with special teams. This means that a potential permanent move to the defensive unit could be a big jump to take and also hurt the special teams unit.
All things considered, especially Edmunds' departure, the Bills need to focus on signing a middle linebacker in free agency. As of now, they only have players with experience mostly on special teams.
One player still available that Buffalo should consider is Anthony Walker Jr. from the Cleveland Browns. He has 63 starts under his belt and has played in the playoffs. The main problem is that he missed most of the 2022 season due to a quad injury.
The Bills could sign him and allow him to share starting duties with some of the other players. That way, he could fully recover while the others have the chance to develop their defensive skills.
Should Buffalo bring in a new middle linebacker, the team could remain strong on defense.