13th Man Sports Exclusive Interview with SiriusXM-NFL Radio Host Zig Fracassi (Part 1)

13th Man Sports’ Tom Lizardo caught up with SiriusXM-NFL radio host Zig Fracassi to preview the Buffalo Bills season. They talked prior to the Bills v. Bears game.

Tom Lizardo: I’m talking today with my old friend Zig Fracassi, host on SiriusXM’s NFL Channel and we are going to focus some attention on the Buffalo Bills and their on-field prospects for the upcoming NFL season. Zig, thanks for giving us some time today.

Zig Fracassi: Tommy, always a pleasure old friend.

TL: Before we get into the meat and potatoes Zig, I just want to mention that you are on Twitter @Zigfracassi although I know a number of our readers already follow you. I also want to mention that prior to moving to the SiriusXM NFL Channel you covered the Bills and Sabres at the old WNSA in Buffalo.

ZF: That’s right, for about three years between 2001 and 2004, I covered them there and on the sister station Empire Sports Network, 107.7.  I covered the Bills on both channels. When they were working with Nate Clements and Gregg Williams, and Tom Donahoe and Takeo Spikes, trying to revive things as much as possible, but certainly not with the level of success they are having right now. 

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TL: I don’t think there’s been any off-season Bills news as big as the long-term signing of Josh Allen. I can’t find a single Bills fan who is anything less than overjoyed about this Zig. But I wanted to hear your take.

ZF: You know Tommy, I like where these franchises acknowledge that the Quarterback position is so impactful. Josh Allen is a wonderful young man, obviously, his play has ascended the Bills into a team that is a legitimate contender.  But, as those who listen to me on SiriusXM-NFL radio know, I’m a bit skeptical toward the process of overpaying the QB position, and what I mean by that is this.  Sure, it is the most important position, and even though the cap may increase exponentially in the next few years as we recover from the pandemic– still we have a situation where 15, 20, even 25 percent of payroll is going toward one position.

Aug 28, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) passes the ball against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

So, then you start wondering, as time goes on, do we maybe have to start cutting guys we could keep around, just because we paid the quarterback position? 

We start wondering now how we manage the salary cap going forward. I’ve suggested we either cap the salary for one position at 10 or 15 percent, or– and I’m the lone wolf Mcquaid on this one — make the QB position cap-exempt.  That way, you’d have enough money left to pay a key lineman or what-have-you.

I like the signing, obviously, he’s a wonderful player and charismatic type of young man you want for the face of your franchise.  I’m still a little cynical that somewhere down the line you will have to pay the bill, so to speak. When another guy’s contract comes up in a year or two do you have to let him go because you pay $43 million a year to the QB? So, I’d say I’m happy  for him, yet skeptical about what QBs make these days.

TL: I’m glad to hear you say that because the one thing I don’t hear from fans is how this is a piece of the puzzle. They seem to say “hey, by comparison, it certainly doesn’t seem ridiculous.”

ZF: It’s not ridiculous. Dak just got $40 million a year in Dallas. It is about maintaining a quality football team in the future. The Bills cap people may have to do some creative gymnastics. The guys I work with, guys who play the game say, “Zig, what we have now are top-tier players– AKA quarterbacks, and then rookies with an already slated salary, and maybe one top lineman, we don’t have the middle-paid, say 8-10 million a year guys left.”

TL: Zig, with Allen locked up, obviously, he’s the number one, and the Bills also picked up Mitch Trubisky in the off-season. A couple of guys, Jake Fromm and particularly Davis Webb looked pretty good in the opening pre-season game, what’s the likelihood one of them gives Trubisky a strong run for that backup spot?

ZF: It will be interesting. The days when you kept three, or even four quarterbacks have gone the way of the 8-track tape.  Unless something exceptional happens I think it will be Trubisky, who has starting experience, as the backup. He’s a guy who was over-drafted, with a few games at North Carolina. The Bears were enamoured with him and moved up to the 2nd overall to get him. It’s his job to lose, but will they keep a third? Maybe it’s Fromm, he was highly acclaimed coming out of high school and ended up going to Georgia where he had a good career. If they keep three I’d lean to Fromm.

Aug 13, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

TL:  If there was one guy who did not progress as much as expected last season it was probably Devin Singletary. He looked good in the opener, scoring the only touchdown against the Lions. With Zack Moss injured, does Singletary look like the number one guy to you, or is that still a position battle?

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ZF: With Singletary, you know what you get, he’s not going to break any records in the 40 but he’s a good solid runner. They could do a platoon. I liked Moss coming out of Utah. Kyle Whittingham turns out pro after pro and it’s a testament to the program he runs there.

They also felt they needed a little giddy-up and brought in Matt Breida. I’d like to see what Moss does there in a full year.

TL: So, it sounds like you feel Breida will have a role too

ZF: Yeah, you just need a multi-back run-game Tommy. Maybe not quite like the Tampa Bay Rays changing pitchers every inning but the days of the high-volume backs like Emmitt Smith and Eric Dickerson are long over. You need a platoon system of two, or sometimes three backs.  I like Breida’s experience. If he makes the roster he will be a guy to keep an eye on.

TL: Marquez Stevenson looked good against the Lions, any chance he makes the squad at Wide Receiver?

ZF: It’s a matter of roster spots. They have Stephon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders is a really good addition, a guy with Super Bowl experience. Although Sanders is in his mid-30s, he’s also the charismatic sort. Gabe Davis has a chance to really, really be good. Cole Beasley, the Covid-19 nonsense besides, is a tremendous slot receiver and then you got Isaiah Hodgins on the other side too — and, Isaiah McKenzie — my gosh they are stacked at that particular position, so those could be the guys who ultimately end up making the team. You’ve only got so many slots. This may be one of the Bills deeper receiving corps I’ve seen in quite a while.

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IN PART 2 — Zig Fracassi will overview the Bills Defence, discuss who might challenge them in the AFC East, and the others storylines he plans to follow in the upcoming season

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