Almost everything has fallen perfectly into place for the Buffalo Bills this offseason.
General manager Brandon Beane made many contract adjustments, pushing money around and convincing some players to take pay cuts to get under the 2021 salary cap.
That allowed them to keep key players they thought they were going to lose, upgrade the backup quarterback position and replace outgoing wide receiver John Brown with Emmanuel Sanders.
Although free agency isn't over, the move that would make the offseason complete would be locking in franchise quarterback Josh Allen, who is entering the fourth year of a five-year rookie deal he signed after being selected seventh overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.
With the help of newcomer Stefon Diggs, Allen exploded last season after taking baby steps as a rookie and again in 2019.
He completed 69.2% of his passes while throwing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns on his way to a passer rating of 107.2. All were career highs.
His 10 interceptions and 1.7% interception rate were career lows.
All of this helped the Bills win 13 regular-season games and two more in the playoffs as Allen finished second in the MVP voting behind Green Bay counterpart Aaron Rodgers.
Speaking on the Huddle & Flow Podcast with Jim Trotter and Steve Wyche on Thursday, Beane reiterated his desire to take care of that most important business soon.
"We're really proud of Josh," Beane said. "We'll get through the draft and probably sometime in the late spring to summer, we'll get those conversations going. And who knows where they'll go. It's got to be fair for them, fair for us."
The need for speed is obvious. The sooner they can lock Allen in, the less it will cost them down the road because the cost of franchise quarterbacks goes up every year.
Even this year, in which the salary cap was reduced to $182.5 million as result of the coronavirus pandemic that significantly disrupted the league's cash flow, the Dallas Cowboys handed a four-year, $160 million contract ($126 million guaranteed) to Dak Prescott, widely considered a lesser quarterback than Allen.
"It helps you for your planning the sooner you can get that contract done," Beane said. "Again, I hope that we can get him done, if not this year, next year. You don't want to get into the franchise [tag] and all that stuff. It's a tool that you use if you have to to keep a great player. But at the end of the day, we want Josh here for the long term. We want him to be happy and obviously we want it to be a deal where we can still put talented players around him because Josh is a competitor.
"He's not wired for us just to pay him, then not be able to put stuff around him. So we'll try and find that deal that works for him and works for us."
So even though the Bills have time because they can exercise the fifth-year option for first-round picks that would keep him in Buffalo through next season at a relatively low cost, they will be aggressive because they know they have such a good thing going with so many players who turned down the chance to make more elsewhere.
Former NFL and college coach and current TV analyst Jim Mora Jr. sees nothing but good things ahead for Allen. In an exlusive interview with Bills Central, Mora compared Allen to a Hall-of-Famer.
"I see a guy who we all understand his arm talent is just off the charts," Mora said, "but now he can throw with accuracy and he can get out of the pocket and he can throw. And I think what really makes him tremendously special is his mindset. He's so competitive, he's so friggin' tough, he shows great leadership skills. You never feel like you're out of the game, he makes amazing throws.
"When I look at ability, I see a John Elway, a big, physical, tough-minded, competitive player that can make all the throws."
Mora was an assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers during Elway's time with the Denver Broncos.
"I remember competing against him and he'd throw the ball and I'd go, `how did he just do that?' I mean, the ball, it curved," Mora said. "You can't make that throw. And you see Josh and you see the same thing. I don't know if there's a quarterback in the league right now that can make all the throws that he can make on a consistent basis.
"So man, keep building around that guy and make sure that you know he's your next Jim Kelly, your Bill for life."