3 Carolina free agents Brandon Beane and the Buffalo Bills could target

New York Giants, Curtis Samuel

General manager Brandon Beane’s past with the Carolina Panthers could lead to a brighter future for the Buffalo Bills.

In just four years, Brandon Beane is turning into one of the finest architects Buffalo has ever welcomed…and this is a city well-versed in Frank Lloyd Wright’s work.

Over his first four years as the general manager of the Buffalo Bills, Beane, 44, has ended the longest active playoff drought in the NFL and turned it into a strong Super Bowl case. But if January’s AFC Championship Game proved one thing, it’s that more is needed to truly compete for a Super Bowl. Thus, the Bills will look to pull out all the stops this offseason in searching for a way to topple the Kansas City Chiefs.

Beane has a source of untapped potential at his fingertips, one he hasn’t been afraid to approach before…the Carolina Panthers.

Over nearly two decades (1998-2017), Beane held a variety of roles in the Carolina front office. Several former Panthers have played roles in Buffalo’s resurgence. The overseer of the project, Sean McDermott, was a defensive coordinator clad in teal for six seasons. This season, Daryl Williams proved to be a serviceable replacement after the Bills’ blocking corps was decimated through injuries.

Who might Beane and the Bills target this time around? ESM investigates…

T Taylor Moton

After Williams worked in a pinch last season, it feels like Moton could be a similar case but with an eye on the future. One of Beane’s last Carolina acquisitions, chosen in the second round in his last draft, Moton would be a good candidate to take over the right tackle spot with both Williams and Ty Nsekhe both up for free agency. But the thing that could scare off the Bills, and other suitors, is the fact that Carolina has placed the franchise tag on him, which would lead to a pricy contract…one the Bills might not be able to afford that with the 20th-best cap space in football. They can add to that number and move up the ranking by bidding some veterans farewell, like John Brown (over $6.3 million) and Jerry Hugest (over $5 million).

WR Curtis Samuel

Even the briefest looks at the Bills’ stat ledgers and highlight reels shows that they’re well situated with their receivers for the foreseeable future. While the top three producers (Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis) are locked up for 2021 at least, the aforementioned Brown could be let go for the cap money and Isaiah McKenzie is up for free agency. The Bills might be looking for depth at receiver, but Gabriel could provide another top target for Josh Allen. One of Beane’s final moves in Carolina was overseeing the draft that brought in Samuel with the 40th choice, 24 picks before Moton. He’s emerging from a career-best season earned while Carolina deals with an unstable quarterback situation. It’s likely Gabriel’s looking for a long-term contract in a top target’s role, but his connection with Beane could warrant at least a meeting with the Bills. Buffalo has far bigger needs to fill, but Gabriel would be a weapon worth splurging on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kp4Lw-69jis&ab_channel=NFL

DT Kawann Short

It didn’t take long for Short, a second-round choice in 2013, to make an impact in Buffalo. He was one of the defensive faces of the Panthers’ run to the Super Bowl in 2015-16, earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. Short was recently granted his release by the Panthers on February 16 and has stated that several teams have inquired about his availability. It wouldn’t be a shock in the slightest if the Bills were one of them, as they can use all the front seven they can get. The knock against Short is that he turned 32 earlier this month and injuries have dominated the latter half of his career. Short hasn’t played a full season since 2017 and has partaken in a mere five games in the last two years. A short-term for a guy who could not only provide talent to the line but mentorship to young guys like Ed Oliver would be one of the more effective, under-the-radar deals we could see in the AFC East this offseason. In addition to his familiarity with McDermott and Beane, Short has also worked with defensive line coach Eric Washington, who took over the position in Buffalo after nearly a decade in Charlotte.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Can the New York Rangers keep the momentum going in the Bruins rematch?

There is little doubt that having fans in the stands had a huge impact on Friday night. Players and coaches commented how much of a factor this was in the New York Rangers 6-2 victory over the Boston Bruins.

During his post-game Zoom conference, head coach David Quinn talked about the impact of the fans: “You knew there were going to be fans in the building – but I don’t think any of us expected the impact that they would make. They were incredibly loud and passionate – they had an impact tonight. We can’t thank our fans enough.”

Adam Fox echoed those sentiments in his post-game conference. “Going out there for warmups and seeing them, and then during the anthem, it sounded like 20,000, not 2,000,” Fox said. “It was awesome to have them there. They gave us a spark and some energy and it was good to get the win with them here.”

With the two teams slated to play again at noon, the question remains as to if the Rangers can keep the momentum going.

Can the New York Rangers keep the momentum going from Friday night’s big win?

In addition to having the spark from the fans, the Rangers are facing a Bruins team that has lost four of its last five games. Their only win during that stretch was the outdoor game last Sunday in Lake Tahoe.

Things have been tough during the Bruin’s last two games. Over an 80 minute span going back to the second period of Thursday’s loss at the Islanders, the Bruins have scored one goal, while relinquishing a whopping 11 goals against.

One of the more noticeable traits that the Rangers displayed Friday night was an uptick in physical play.

“No one was backing down tonight,” said Ryan Lindgren in his post-game Zoom conference. “They’re a physical team. They like to jaw after the whistle and do things like that. We weren’t backing down. We were giving it right back. You know, we were smart with our physicality, too. We weren’t taking dumb penalties. It was a great team effort. We came to play tonight.”

Hopefully, they will also bring that same energy to Sunday afternoon’s game, something that Quinn also hoped for. “It was a good night,” Quinn said. “That being said, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We know what we’re in store for on Sunday afternoon. We’re going to enjoy this for tonight, but we’ve got to get back at it and be ready to go on Sunday.”

Sunday’s puck-drop is scheduled for noon and will be broadcasted nationally on NBC Sports.