Bills like Schouman more than you think

Posted on April 9, 2010 by Patrick Moran

Derek SchoumanLost among the estimated million or so stories and mocks connecting Tim Tebow and Jimmy Clausen to the Buffalo Bills Thursday was the lightly reported news that restricted free agent tight end Derek Schouman signed his tender to remain with the team for 2010.

While the move comes low-key universally doesn’t compare to Dwan Edwards or Andre Davis signings in terms of fan enthusiasm, the organization clearly wanted him back in the fold, probably more than you think.

Schouman’s career numbers are hardly impressive; 27 career catches in 21 games for 275 yards and all of one touchdown. He’ll never be confused with Antonio Gates or Vernon Davis.

Yet the Bills thought enough of Schouman to not just offer an original round tender, which would’ve only been a seventh round draft pick had another team signed him to an offer that the club didn’t match.  Instead they placed a second round level on him, which will pay him $1.678 this year.

Translation— They didn’t want him going anywhere.

Schouman was starting to come into his own early in 2009, becoming a favorite target of Trent Edwards, who at the time was entrenched as the starter.  Schouman caught three passes for 41 yards against New England on opening night as the Bills came within a Leodis McKelvin fumble of knocking off the Patriots for the first time since the Kennedy Administration (seemingly).

He was even better the following week in the home opener against Tampa Bay,  grabbing a team-high six catches for 62 yards towards the end of the third quarter when a single play changed his entire season.

Schouman took a swing pass from Edwards near the left sideline and was tackled by Buccaneers safety Will Allen after a six yard gain.  The play seemed innocent enough, but Schouman ended up injuring his right knee on the play.

At first he expressed optimism that the injury wasn’t serious.  He was walking around the locker room after the game without a noticeable limp and told reporters the initial examination on his knee did not reveal any torn ligaments. He sounded relatively confident the knee was merely sprained and at worst he’d be out a couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t that lucky.   A full MRI two days later showed a torn ligament in the knee and Schouman was immediately placed on season-ending injured reserve.

But the Bills are convinced his injury won’t affect him for 2010, especially after he worked out during organized team workouts last week.  He’ll get the chance to compete with Shawn Nelson for the starting job.

The team cut Derek Fine before free agency began while Joe Klopfenstein was resigned but not expected to be a factor.

Judging by the level of his tender, Schouman is being counted on as a factor.

“He’s a sure handed receiver who’s a much better athlete than most people give him credit for,” his former offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said about him late last year. “He was starting to come into his own and I’m sure once he’s back at full strength he’ll be a big asset to the offense and provide production and build off what he had going.”

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