Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane backed the job coach Sean McDermott did in the face of criticism and a midseason slump on Tuesday, while dismissing the notion the team has plateaued after being eliminated in the divisional playoff round for a third consecutive season.
At the same time, Beane raised a red flag in assessing offseason challenges he faces rebuilding a roster that currently features 22 pending unrestricted free agents — nine of them regulars — while being handcuffed by salary cap restraints.
“Obviously, I’m going to have to be creative with the cap, and I don’t think I need to say it, but I don’t think you’re gonna see any splashes,” he said during a lengthy end-of-season news conference two days after a 27-24 loss to Kansas City.
“Even if I found something that was exciting to me, I don’t think it would fit within our parameters,” said Beane, whose team is projected to need to clear more than $40 million in payroll before the NFL’s signing period opens in March. “We’ll work around it. We’re not planning to take a year off and just not be competitive.”
The Bills are coming off a 12-7 finish in which they overcame a rash of defensive injuries and the midseason firing of their offensive coordinator by closing with five straight wins to claim their fourth straight AFC East title.
After a playoff-opening 31-17 win over Pittsburgh, Buffalo’s loss to Kansas City re-emphasized questions over the team’s short-comings. During the Bills five-year playoff run, they’ve been eliminated by Kansas City three times, including the 2020 AFC championship game, as well as Cincinnati in the divisional round last year, and Houston in a wild-card outing in the 2019 season playoffs.
“I don’t subscribe to the window as closing or it’s closed,” Beane said. “While we’re extremely disappointed, nobody’s more disappointed than me, I’m also not going to just throw the whole season out and say, `Let’s tear this thing up and start over.'”
He then credited McDermott for how the Bills remained competitive, with their seven losses decided by six points or less.
What went wrong for Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills?
“Those come down to a play here or there. And there wasn’t anything in those games where you’re going, `Man, he really botched this or botched that,‘” Beane said.
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Completing his seventh season in Buffalo, McDermott spoke earlier in the day and said the loss to the Chiefs further motivates him to do better.
“I can promise you, that fire burns within me as bright as it did the year before, if not more,” McDermott said. “We’re disappointed, yes, but not broken.”
Beane and McDermott touched on a variety of other topics:
— Beane said the team has received no updates on the Dallas police investigation into edge rusher Von Miller after he was accused of allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, who is pregnant, in November. As for Miller’s subpar on-field production in returning from right knee surgery, Beane said he saw a player who was showing improvement over the course of the season.
— McDermott credited Joe Brady for the job he did in closing the season as interim offensive coordinator in taking over after Ken Dorsey was fired in mid-November. McDermott said he values quarterback Josh Allen’s backing of Brady, but said a decision on the position hasn’t yet been made. Beane said Brady “deserves serious consideration.”
— McDermott hasn’t determined whether he’ll continue overseeing defensive play-calling duties in taking over the responsibility last season after defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier elected to take the year off.
— Beane rallied to Tyler Bass’ defense after the kicker missed a potential game-tying 44-yard field goal wide right with 1:43 left in the loss to the Chiefs. “He’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing going forward,” Beane said. “There’s no wavering of support in this building.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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