Miami Dolphins free-agent cornerback Nolan Carroll is scheduled to arrive in Buffalo tonight on a free-agent visit.
The Bills pursuit of him is an interesting insight into the priorities of new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Cornerback isn't a glaring area of need for the Bills, given their top three at the position all are returning. But the position could be better and more physical. Carroll, who has 26 starts in his four-year Dolphins career, hasn't been beloved in Miami. The Dolphins have told him to shop around, even though they have a ton of money to spend under the salary cap. But Carroll appears to be "an ascending player," coming off his best pro season in 2013. He had 12 starts for the Dolphins and made three interceptions.
Carroll, 27, has tools. He's 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds, and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds coming out of the University of Maryland in 2010. The reason he lasted until the fifth round of the draft was he was so raw. He started his college career as a receiver, switched to cornerback as a sophomore and missed virtually all of his senior year with a broken leg. Big corners are more of a priority than ever. Has he reached his ceiling, as Miami apparently believes, or was 2013 an indication of better days ahead. He was called for seven penalties in 2012 but cut that total down to just three in 2013.
By choosing to make Buffalo his first visit, it's a sign - we think - the Bills are interested in paying starter money. The Bills signed No. 2 cornerback Leodis McKelvin to a good contract last season (an average of $4.25 million a year). No. 1 corner Stephon Gilmore is on his rookie deal and still is at least a year away from being in position to re-negotiate. No. 3 corner Nickell Robey had a fine rookie season. But he's 5-7 and isn't an ideal matchup against certain teams with big wideouts across the board. Putting Gilmore, Carroll and McKelvin on the field in passing situations would give the Bills three fine athletes to match up with good passing offenses. How highly do the Bills view Carroll? We should find out Wednesday.
As an aside, Carroll's mother is formerly lieutenant governor of the state of Florida.
ROSTER NOTE: Another move, or non-move, that occurred Tuesday, was the Bills did not make an offer to offensive tackle Thomas Welch, who was due to become a restricted free agent. He now hits the open market and is free to sign with any team. To keep his rights, the Bills would have had to guarantee him $1.4 million for the season. The Bills still could bring him to training camp for a lesser salary.