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

The franchise tag might spoil the New York Giants’ free agency plans and dreams

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants are tight on cap space this offseason. However, the team is still looking to rebuild their offense and has been linked to a few expensive, big-name free agents. There are some elite impending free agents that could fill huge needs for the Giants in free agency.

However, just because these players are impending free agents, does not mean they will hit the open market. The Giants are going to be interested in upgrading their wide receiver and offensive tackle positions. Whether that be through free agency or the draft is dependent on who is actually available in free agency.

Giants fans have selected a few impending free agents that they want the Giants to sign. Players like Kenny Golladay, Allen Robinson, Taylor Moton, and Shaquil Barrett are all superb free agents that Giants fans would love to see their team sign.

However, it is very likely that none of these players will actually hit the open market. Their contracts are expiring and it seems likely that they depart from their current teams. But the teams do have one move to make to prevent their stars from leaving. Giants fans should not expect to see any of those players make it to free agency as they are likely to franchise tag candidates.

The Giants might lose their top free-agent targets to the franchise tag

If Kenny Golladay were to hit free agency, he would likely be the Giants’ top target. New York had an interest in trading for Golladay near the 2020 trade deadline. He is now an impending free agent and would be the perfect addition to the Giants’ offense. However, they might never get the chance to offer him a contract. According to reports, the Lions are likely to franchise tag the star wide receiver.

Another interesting name that connects to the Giants is Taylor Moton. This stud offensive tackle was drafted by Dave Gettleman during his tenure as general manager of the Carolina Panthers. Now, serving the same role for the New York Giants, a reunion would be a dream come true for the Giants. New York would get a top-shelf bookend on their offensive line if Moton were to sign with them in free agency. But, again, Moton is likely to be franchise tagged and the Giants will not have the opportunity to offer him a contract.

This will continue to be a theme as one starts listing off the top free agents in the 2021 free agency class. Teams are not willing to let their top players walk away for nothing. If New York really wants one of these players, they might have to trade for them while they are on the franchise tag.

Realistically, the Giants cannot afford to give up draft capital for these players either. Giants fans can hope and dream that their team lands a top-tier player like Kenny Golladay. But those fans should temper their expectations and expect to see the Giants shop a tier below. This free agency class is loaded with wide receiver talent. New York could target a less-expensive option like Curtis Samuel or Corey Davis.

If the Giants want to get their offensive playmaker, they will. But the franchise tag will likely prevent them from getting the best offensive playmaker. Alas, the Giants will target the best players they can in free agency, but the true roster-building takes place during the NFL Draft.