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Buffalo Bills

Spiller Wins NFL Weekly Honors

Posted on September 17, 2014 by NFL Press Release

SpillerThe National Football League today announced that RB/KR CJ Spiller has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

This is Spiller’s second special teams player of the week award – he last won the award in Week 3 of the 2010 season.

Spiller is the second consecutive Bills player to be named Special Teams Player of the Week this season (Dan Carpenter won in Week 1). This is the second time in Bills history that two Buffalo players have won this award in consecutive weeks. The last time this occurred was in 1994 when P Chris Mohr won in Week 2 and K Steve Christie won in Week 3.

Below is a summary of Spiller’s performance against the Miami Dolphins last week.

Spiller Wins NFL Weekly Honors – continue reading…

Bills Place Meeks On IR, Sign Dean

Posted on September 16, 2014 by Patrick Moran

2011-Buffalo-Bills-Authentic-HelmetThe second season for Buffalo Bills safety Jonathan Meeks is over before it really started.  The Bills fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft was placed on Injured Reserve Tuesday.  Meeks suffered a neck injury at practice on August 6 and has been limited ever since, spending the first two games of the regular season on the inactive list.

Taking his place on the active roster is linebacker Larry Dean, who the team signed today.  Undrafted out of Valdosta State in 2011, Dean made the Minnesota Vikings and appeared in all 48 Vikings games over his three seasons there.  Primarily a special teams contributor, Dean finished second on Minnesota last year with 18 special team tackles.

The club announced Dean will wear No. 54.

The move leaves the Bills with only three active safeties on the 53-man roster.  They do, however have two safeties currently residing on the practice squad– Deon Broomfield and Kenny Ladler.

10 Observations: Bills Squish The Fish

Posted on September 16, 2014 by Patrick Moran

SpillerI like to take at least 24 hours following a Buffalo Bills game and watch the playback at least twice before forming strong enough opinions to share with a video offense.  Perhaps it makes me better informed, or maybe waiting longer than most demonstrates a fear of looking stupid.  Regardless, here are the 10 biggest observations in my arsenal following Buffalo’s 29-10 drubbing of Miami in moving to 2-0 on the season.

As an added bonus, not one of these bullets includes a breakdown of E.J. Manuel. We’ll save that for another time.

♦ Don’t just glance at the stat sheet when determining the worth of a player.  Had you done such, you’d easily miss the boat on veterans Brandon Spikes and Mike Williams and dismiss them as non-factors Sunday.  With the Bills primarily in a nickel scheme Spikes saw but 15 defensive snaps yet still contributed in a big way by throwing a key block on C.J. Spiller’s 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.  Williams had just one catch for three yards, but his downfield block was crucial in a Spiller 47-yard run down the right sideline.  These are cases of strong veteran leaders finding ways to help their team win, whether the contributions jump off the page or not.  Early indications look like Doug Whaley scored big with signing these two during the offseason.

♦ Before even probing his statistics, Sammy Watkins has rapidly evolved into one of the most magnetic players on the Bills. It’s apparent to anyone with a functioning set of his eyes how much his ribs are bothering him, not to mention a sore leg, yet he conquered Miami for his first breakout game.  Watkins caught eight passes on 11 targets for 117 yards and the team’s lone offensive touchdown and had the congregate of Bills fans jubilant for much the afternoon.  I can guarantee he won a mass of reverence in the locker room after playing so effectively through the soreness he’s enduring. By the way, he’s currently leading all NFL rookies in both receptions (11) and yards (148).

10 Observations: Bills Squish The Fish – continue reading…

Bills 2014 Season Preview: Painful

Posted on September 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Doug MarroneRather than wait for the closing stages of this post for a Buffalo Bills 2014 season prediction, let’s instantly knock that out of the way. This will be one of the most tumultuous, wearisome campaigns for the organization and its fans in many years. My forecast is 5-11, at best.

I tweeted more than a week ago I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doug Marrone not last through this season, with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz eventually taking over. I stand by what I wrote. I think it’s going to be that bad.

You can believe what you want to read, but this is a team mired in turmoil internally and in my opinion, will have an effect on the field.

Local media were on the story first regarding growing tension between the head coach and members of the team’s front office.  That was brought to the forefront Friday morning by CBS’ Jason LaCanfora, who cited problems via multiple sources confrontations between Marrone and director of player personnel Jim Monos and team president Russ Brandon over roster and depth chart decisions. He’s also gotten into spats with several players and according to a source of LaCanfora, referenced himself as “Saint Doug” multiple times.

To be more precise, LaCanfora wrote that according to sources, “Marrone has referred to himself as Saint Doug at times, referencing the fact that it takes two miracles to be canonized as a saint, and that he already pulled off one miracle by winning at Syracuse and alluding to the fact it would take another miracle to win in Buffalo.”

The validity of LaCanfora’s report comes to question.  Respected Buffalo News reporter Tim Graham cited a source saying Monos was not even present in spat stories, and Marrone’s alleged “fire me” quote to Brandon was completely out of context in contrast to how LaCanfora reported the details.

However, it’s more than what LaCanfora reported, whether all or just parts are true.

I spoke to at least three either current or now former players on the team over the offseason, and each told me a substantial amount of players were flat-out pissed that Marrone fired wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard, who was popular in the locker room and brought in Syracuse’s Rob Moore to take his place.  One player told me Hilliard was fired because “he wasn’t one of Marrone’s guys.”  Hilliard almost immediately was hired by Washington.

One former player took the current state of the locker room further, telling me “I’ve talked to a bunch of guys and they say nothing has changed and they hate it.”

Bills 2014 Season Preview: Painful – continue reading…

Vine: Watkins Makes Incredible Catch

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Patrick Moran

WGR’s Sal Capaccio had perfecting timing at Buffalo Bills training camp Wednesday morning, positioning himself to capture rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins make a stunning one-handed snag in the end zone after tripping and nearly falling early in his route.

He posted the following on Vine, and it’s immediately blowing up on social media.

Nice work, Sal.

Bills Training Camp Report – July 21, 2014

Posted on July 21, 2014 by Michael Thomas

Thad(One of our contributing photographers, Michael Thomas, is a regular at Buffalo Bills training camp and besides snapping pictures, is a big fan of taking a plethora of notes.

Since above all else Michael is a fan, this won’t be the most grammatically correct article you’ve ever read.  Still, his observations are well thought out and unbiased. He’ll be posting his thoughts following practices often through camp and hopefully for you it’s an enjoyable…and informative read.)

IT was the second day of Buffalo Bills training camp and the players continued to spend extra time working on their fundamentals. They worked on several individual drills, 1-on-1 passing drills, 7-on-7 passing drills, 9-on-7 drills and of course the 11-on-11 full team drills. The team also took some time to work on special teams, this time their target was kickoffs and kickoff coverage.

The team went right to work at 2:00 on their individual drills, working with the units on certain things to help them with their game. They did this for about 20 minutes and then the entire team did some stretching out to get ready for all the work. The offense worked on some different passing drills, learning about assignments and things like that and then the quarterbacks spent more time working on their footwork. Following those drills, the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends jogged over to Growney Stadium to work on more passing. They did this for about 5-10 minutes and then they came back onto the field to practice 1-on-1′s.

During the 1-on-1 drills, the plays are very fast paced. I noted a few things that caught my eye during the 1-on-1′s. Right off the ball, Da’Norris Searcy intercepted EJ Manuel. Thad Lewis had a pair of good plays in the drill. One of then was a nice 30-yard pass to Kevin Elliott. The other one was a beautiful 45-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin. Jeff Tuel had one play that looked like it was going to get picked off, however, Marcus Easley tipped the ball in the air and caught it for 25-yards. The best play was from EJ Manuel, who hit Sammy Watkins in stride for a 45-yard touchdown while burning Leodis McKelvin.

Bills Training Camp Report – July 21, 2014 – continue reading…

Bills Training Camp Report- July 20, 2014

Posted on July 20, 2014 by Michael Thomas

EJ Bills(One of our contributing photographers, Michael Thomas, is a regular at Buffalo Bills training camp and besides snapping pictures, is a big fan of taking a plethora of notes.

Since above all else Michael is a fan, this won’t be the most grammatically correct article you’ve ever read.  Still, his observations are well thought out and unbiased. He’ll be posting his thoughts following practices often through camp and hopefully for you it’s an enjoyable…and informative read.)

AFTER another long offseason, Buffalo Bills 2014 training camp has finally begun. The team started camp off with a Sunday night practice in hopes that it would attract more people – and that’s exactly what it did. The stands were packed and fans were loudly cheering their favorite players on. The weather helped too, it was in the upper 70′s, low 80s with a nice cool breeze. The practice itself lasted about 2 and a half hours.

To start the day off, Head Coach Doug Marrone had the players spend quite a bit of time working on fundamentals. The team was split into their individual units and worked on drills suited for their position. The individual drills went for about an hour with some special teams mixed in. During the individual drills, the Quarterbacks, Running Backs and Wide Receivers went over to the grass field, while the linemen and defense stayed on the field at Growney Stadium. Following the individual drills, the Quarterbacks worked on passing drills with the receivers. I tried to keep up, but the QBs were flying thru the drills and it was very fast paced. I did take a few notes on plays that stood out. Right away, Leodis McKelvin had a nice pass break-up on Robert Woods. Stephen Gilmore displayed good coverage when he was out there – covering the receivers several times. Mike Williams drew the most cheers when outleaped Brandon Smith on a 20 yard pass from Thad Lewis. On the negative side, all 4 quarterbacks overthrew their targets several times and looked a bit off. But EJ Manuel was the best of the bunch.

Following the 1-on-1 drills, the team went to work on some 7-on-7 passing drills. EJ Manuel started it off with a 4-yard pass to Scott Chandler. Jeff Tuel then came in and threw a 17-yard pass to TJ Graham. EJ came back in and overthrew Tony Moeaki who seems a bit slow. Tuel returned and threw a pass to Caleb Holley, but Corey Graham drew a pass interference penalty. On the next play, EJ Manuel threw a screen to Bryce Brown for 5-yards. Thad Lewis then came in and threw a screen to CJ Spiller for 6-yards. EJ Manuel returned and threw a 12-yard pass to Chris Hogan. On the next play, Tuel returned and underthrew Marcus Easley. EJ Manuel came back onto the field and threw a nice pass to Sammy Watkins for 30-yards.

Bills Training Camp Report- July 20, 2014 – continue reading…

#Throwback Thursday – Eric Moulds 2001 Highlights

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Patrick Moran

This week’s Throwback Thursday features former Buffalo Bills wide receiver great Eric Moulds, who happens to be celebrating his 41st birthday today.

In his honor, we found via Youtube a reel of his 2001 highlights.  Mind you, it wasn’t even close to Moulds’ best season, but he still finished that campaign with 67 catches for 905 yards and five touchdowns.  Spoiler Alert—the one handed touchdown catch on a bomb from Alex Van Pelt against Miami at around the four minute mark is pretty sick.

Happy birthday, Eric.

Bills Re-Sign Chandler For Two Years

Posted on March 13, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Bills HelmetOn the morning of the first day of free agency, Buffalo Bills general manager told WGR that the team made an aggressive offer to tight end Scott Chandler. Given the fact Chandler didn’t re-up with the club before 4:00pm Tuesday, it’s apparent Chandler wanted to test the open market.  Either league-wide interest was minimal or his heart was truly in Buffalo.  Either way, he’s returning to the club.

Adam Schefter was the first to report that the Bills have re-signed Chandler to a two-year contract. Terms of the deal weren’t immediately available.

Chandler will enter his fifth year with the Bills and is coming off a team-leading 53 receptions for 655 yards and two touchdowns in 2013.

“I’m just really excited to be back in Buffalo,” Chandler told Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News from his home in Iowa. “My family, my wife and I, have really always loved Western New York since we moved there. Obviously, the organization kinda gave me my start. So I’m really excited to be back.”

Bills Re-Sign Chandler For Two Years – continue reading…

Bills Sign Three Free Agents On Day Two

Posted on March 12, 2014 by Patrick Moran

WilliamsAfter a quiet first day that saw plenty of big names sign with new teams across the league, the Buffalo Bills got busy on the second day of free agency, signing three veterans to multi-year contracts.

Offensive guard Chris Williams, cornerback Corey Graham and linebacker Keith Rivers all managed to put the second Buffalo blizzard of the season from their minds and ink deals with their new team. According to several reports Williams signed a four-year, $13.5 million contract that included $5.5 million guaranteed.  Graham also signed a four-year with the club, worth $16 million including $5.5 million in 2014 and a total contract with incentives that could max out at $19 million.  Rivers signed a two-year deal worth a total of $5 million, including $2.5 million guaranteed.

Including kicker Dan Carpenter, who was re-signed moments after free agency began Tuesday the Bills have spent around $45 million in player contracts, of which approximately $15 million is guaranteed.

The trio of moves if nothing else shows the team is at least committed to staying busy, and perhaps take a little sting off losing Jairus Byrd to the New Orleans Saints on a monster six-year deal on Tuesday.

Here’s my own quick take on each of the signings.

Bills Sign Three Free Agents On Day Two – continue reading…

Byrd Goes To Saints For 6 Years, $54 Million

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Byrd SaintsThe Jairus Byrd era in Buffalo has officially reached its conclusion. The New Orleans Saints announced that the three-time Pro Bowl safety has signed with the team after spending the previous five seasons with the Bills. The news was first announced on the Saint’s official website as six-year deal.

Adam Schefter reports the six-year deal for Byrd is for $54 million and more importantly includes $28 million guaranteed.

Already one of the best safeties in the game, Byrd will now be paired with a rising safety star in his own right in Kenny Vaccaro. Even without Byrd the Saints had the second-best pass defense in the NFL in 2013.

The Saints are certainly a surprise choice to most when it comes to Byrd’s landing spot. Several teams were linked to Byrd over the past few days; a list that included Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland and Miami among others.

The Saints also entered the day with roughly just $2.7 million in available cap space.

Since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2009 Byrd has 22 interceptions in the league. Only Asante Samuel (25) has had more.

Byrd Goes To Saints For 6 Years, $54 Million – continue reading…

Report: Nolan Carroll To Visit Bills

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Bills HelmetIf you had Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll as the first free agent scheduled to visit the Buffalo Bills once free agency commenced congratulations—you’re a winner.

Jason LaCanfora reported the four-year veteran is Carroll’s first visit while also noting that the 27-year old has others scheduled as well.

A fifth-round pick out of Maryland in 2010, Carroll has impressive size (6-1/205) and speed (4.3/40) and seems to be the prototypical type of defender in Buffalo’s hybrid defense, assuming of course new coordinator Jim Schwartz continues to employ many of the same schemes his predecessor Mike Pettine did.

Carroll had a career-best season in 2013 with Miami, where he picked off three passes and added two sacks to go with 47 tackles.

If the Bills can land Carroll he’s likely to compete with Nickell Robey for the nickel back slot, as the team seems settled with Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin as the starters.  However, it would be a mistake to brush Carroll as a reserve corner aside as meaningless.  Need I remind you of what happened when injuries forced Justin Rogers into a prominent role in 2013?

Lions Could Be Interested In Chandler

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Patrick Moran

CBS’ Jason LaCanfora is reporting that the Detroit Lions are keeping a close eye on the tight end free agent market and are discussing bringing in Buffalo Bills unsigned tight Scott Chandler for  a visit.

Bills general manager Doug Whaley made it public Tuesday afternoon that the team would like to have Chandler back, telling WGR that the team made “an aggressive offer” to Chandler as well as Dan Carpenter, who did re-sign with Buffalo shortly after free agency began at 4:00pm.

The Lions could be in the market for a tight end since incumbent Brandon Pettigrew is a free agent intent on testing the waters.  Interestingly enough the Lions had dealings with another former Bills tight end, failing to tenure Dorin Dickerson and thus allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Lions Could Be Interested In Chandler – continue reading…

Byrd Set To Visit Saints

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Seemingly from the moment NFL free agency started the safety pool started filling up fast, with at least four signing with new teams within the first hour; a list that included Donte Whitner (Browns), T.J. Ward (Broncos), Antoine Bethea (49ers) and Malcom Jenkins (Eagles).  So when the first 90 minutes of shopping season flew by without a Jairus Byrd sighting, many Buffalo Bills fans hopeful of hsi return quickly concluded the market wasn’t what Byrd thought it was and the inevitability of Byrd returning could be imminent.

Not so fast.

Adam Schefter broke the news around supper time that Byrd has lined up a visit with the New Orleans Saints.  The Saints are a curious team for sure as Byrd’s been linked to  several teams over the past few days, with New Orleans not being one of them.  While the Saints would welcome a three-time Pro Bowl safety to the roster and the presence of Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator surely intrigues Byrd, the Saints aren’t exactly in great shape in regards to the salary cap. In fact, as of early Tuesday New Orleans is operating with a mere $2.7 million in cap space. Surely they’d have to do some significant roster shuffling/restructuring to make any potential deal work.  They’ll be at least $6 million under the cap when they trade of cut running back Darren Sproles—something they plan on doing.

There’s still hope that Byrd will return to Buffalo because of the obvious—he remains unsigned several hours into free agency. However, to assume its New Orleans, Buffalo or bust for Byrd is foolish. I’ve seen firsthand on Twitter several fans concluding Byrd gambled and lost by passing on Buffalo’s reportedly lucrative contract offer and he may have to crawl back to Buffalo—for less.

Byrd Set To Visit Saints – continue reading…

Report: Carpenter Likely To Re-Sign With Bills

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Bills HelmetNFL free agency doesn’t official start for another few hours, but it sounds like the Buffalo Bills will be quickly retaining at least one of their own.  Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports reported that incumbent Bills kicker Dan Carpenter flew from Miami to Buffalo this morning, which indicates that he’ll be re-signing to stay on with the Bills.

Due a veteran minimum deal that provided the Bills with salary cap relief last season, Carpenter is not able to sign with the Bills—or any other organization before the start of the new league year, which commences at 4:00pm today.

Carpenter had the best season of his six-year career with the Bills in 2013, converting on 91.7% of his attempts that included connecting on four of six kicks from at least 50 yards.  Still, there is a considerable chance Carpenter will have to compete for the Bills job this season.  Buffalo drafted Dustin Hopkins in the sixth-round last year and despite missing last season with a groin injury the club still likes him.

Carpenter spent the first five years of his career with Miami before being cut last August.  He tried to catch on with Arizona and then the New York Jets but was released by both clubs within a 10-day span before signing with the Bills in early September after Hopkins was injured.

Source: Bills Haven’t Pulled Byrd Offer

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Jairus ByrdWithout knowing specific details of any offer, a team related source tells me whatever deal that was proposed to Buffalo Bills pending free agent Jairus Byrd has not been pulled off the table, and the team still holds out hope Byrd will return after testing the open market when free agency officially begins at 4:00pm today.

I’m also told that the contract extension offered and accepted by safety Aaron Williams had nothing to do with not using the franchise tag on Byrd,  the team decided they wanted Williams long-term and would’ve taken the same course of action, even had a deal been struck with Byrd beforehand.

There’s been several reports published that the Bills, assuming Byrd will command at least $8 million per year in the open market wouldn’t pay north of $14 million annually for a pair of safeties.  According to the source, those reports aren’t accurate.  While the Bills have obviously prepared themselves for Byrd’s departure, they’d still welcome him back at the rate they’ve proposed.

The Associated Press reported last week that the team offered Byrd a deal that would reach $30 million over the first three years of the deal and he’d be the highest paid safety in the NFL over the first two years.

I reported last week that the Bills offered Byrd a contract that bettered the $42.5 million/five-year deal Dashon Goldson got with Tampa Bay last offseason.

As for not using the franchise tag when they had the chance, I’m told the Bills didn’t want another one-year deal for Byrd with a bunch of important free agents already on the docket for next offseason, and are determined to move forward with him or move on from him now.

Source: Bills Haven’t Pulled Byrd Offer – continue reading…

Source: Bills Interested In Geoff Schwartz

Posted on March 6, 2014 by Patrick Moran

SchwartzThe Buffalo Bills will speak with several imminent free agents when NFL league rules allow teams to start communicating to players on Saturday, but I’ve learned of one name in particular. According to a team source the Bills have definitely expressed an interest in Kansas City Chiefs free agent guard Geoff Schwartz.

Schwartz, 27, was a seventh-round pick in 2008 and spent his first three seasons in Carolina, where he played both right tackle and guard and started all 16 games in 2010 before missing all of the following year with a hip injury. The free agent signed a one-year deal with Minnesota in 2012 but didn’t start before moving on to Kansas City last year, where he started eight games and played extremely well.

He’s regarded by some as the top available guard in this free agent class.  The Chiefs are reportedly still interested in re-signing the 6-foot-6, 340-pounder, though it now looks likely Schwartz will test the free agent market.

The Bills are in the market for at least one new starting guard.  Kraig Ubrik occupies one and likely to remain as such for 2014 even though he struggled for parts of 2013, carries a $3.375 cap hit this season and still has three years left on his deal.

Buffalo also has Doug Legursky on the roster, but the veteran played poorly last season after suffering a knee injury, and the team could eventually save $1 million by releasing him. The team also has J.J Unga, Antoine McClain and Mark Asper on its roster.

Free agency begins on March 11.

Bills Extend Aaron Williams

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran

aaron williamsThe Buffalo Bills announced Wednesday morning that the team has signed Aaron Williams to a contract extension.  Terms weren’t released by the team but according to Mike Garafolo the deal is for four years and $26 million.

Pro Football Talk cites a source saying Williams’ deal includes a $6.5 million signing bonus and $14.625 million guaranteed.

Williams was slated to enter the final year of his four-year, $5.2 million deal this season.

The former 2011 second-round pick was a complete disaster at cornerback his first two years in the league and seemed destined to join a long line of Buffalo Bills early round draft pick busts.  However, Williams converted to safety last offseason under then-defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and the results were astounding.  Sure, Williams was still occasionally prone to getting beat and drew too many boneheaded penalties, but he also picked off four passes in 2013 and had a  consistent impact in Buffalo’s improved defense.

The Bills said the deal is completely independent of any other deals being worked on with other free agents, but the reality is this pretty much assures Jairus Byrd is gone.  There’s no way the Bills are going to commit over $14 million in annual salary to a pair of safeties.

I don’t mind Williams getting signed. I’ve been adamant after watching Andy Levrite and presumably Byrd walk away over the past two offseasons that the Bills need to start being more proactive in extending young players before they reach their contract year. I do, however, worry that Williams isn’t established enough for my liking.  Clearly the Bills are rolling the dice with this move.  According to Spotrac Williams for the time being becomes the sixth-highest average paid safety in the NFL.

Rejoice: Bills Postpone Toronto Series

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Bills TorontoAfter a week where nothing’s been positive, there’s finally some good news for Buffalo sports fans on Wednesday morning.  The Buffalo Bills formally announced that the organization’s “Toronto Series’ has been postponed for 2014, meaning for the first time in seven years the Bills will play all eight of their home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.

Rejoice, Bills fanatics.

“We will use this time to collectively evaluate opportunities to enhance future games.” Bills president Russ Brandon tweeted.

While the Bills insist that for at least the time being the series is merely on hiatus, a report by Tim Graham of the Buffalo News is far more telling. In his article Graham cites a source telling him that Brandon’s said the series in Toronto will continue “over his dead body.”

The deal had been a huge success for Buffalo, at least financially as Toronto paid Ralph Wilson $78 million for five regular season and three preseason games at the Rogers Centre.  However, that money came with an unmistakable price on the field as the games, at best felt like a neutral contest for Buffalo, which is no small reason the team has went just 1-5 in Toronto with last year’s overtime loss to Atlanta perhaps the final straw.  The game was attended by fewer than 40,000 fans.

Rejoice: Bills Postpone Toronto Series – continue reading…

Report: McClain To Visit Bills

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Patrick Moran

McClainLast week the Baltimore Ravens released linebacker Jameel McClain at least in part because his release saved the team $3.2 million in salary cap room.  Since McClain is a vested veteran the move made him free to sign with any team in advance of free agency on March 11, and it appears the Buffalo Bills could be an option.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Tuesday evening that McClain will visit with the Bills on Wednesday.

McClain, 28, had 52 tackles in 10 games last season after missing 10 months with a career-threatening spinal injury.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome spoke highly of McClain in a statement following his release.

“Jameel is a Ravens’ success story who came to us as a rookie free agent. He changed positions from playing on the defensive line and outside to becoming a good inside linebacker and starter. People close to our team understand his commitment to being the best he can be and the leadership he gave on and off the field.”

McClain was signed by Baltimore as an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse University (he played there before Doug Marrone became their coach) and has started 55 games in Baltimore, racking up 332 career tackles and 4.5 sacks.

**UPDATE** WGR’s Joe Buscaliga reports that McCain wrapped up his meeting with the Bills Wednesday afternoon and is meeting with the New York Giants next.

Source: Bills Offer To Byrd “Blew Away” Goldson’s

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Patrick Moran

BYRDI don’t know the actual number, but according to a team source the Buffalo Bills last contract offer to Jairus Byrd “blew away” the five-year, $41.25 million deal 2013 free agent Dashon Goldson signed for with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason.

While the Bills organization is taking a public relations beating for not placing the franchise tag on Byrd, an entirely different matter, I’m told the Bills efforts to lock up their primary free agent have been legitimate. The Associated Press reported a few days ago that Byrd turned down an offer that included $30 million over the first three years of a proposed deal. How much of that was guaranteed wasn’t made public, but a source claims it was for more than the $18 million guaranteed Goldson got from the Buccaneers.

Saying Byrd simply doesn’t want to play for the Bills going forward would be nothing but speculation on my part. From what I gather Byrd has never told people close to him that his time in Buffalo is definitely over.

What I have heard, via the same source is the salary cap increasing by $10 million in 2014 is a significant factor in Byrd rejecting any Bills offer in advance of free agency.

Eugene Parker, Byrd’s agent clearly feels the hefty cap hike will bring more suitors into play when NFL shopping season begins on March 11. Including today the Bills still have four more days to talk exclusively with Byrd, but there’s no way he’s re-signing before free agency without learning what competing offers are out there.

Again, the probability of Byrd leaving is high, but concluding so before free agency starts is not accurate. I’m told Bills general manager Doug Whaley “wasn’t lying and is being truthful” when it comes to wanting Byrd to remain in Buffalo and the team will continue to try and work out a deal.

The Bills, according to the source have not been told by Byrd that the door is closed on a return. Having said that, they’ve negotiated several times without coming to an agreement, which makes Byrd bolting for another organization come March 11 seem highly likely. Another noteworthy factor beyond money is Byrd being  unhappy with the stability of the organization.  Were he to remain in Buffalo he’d be playing for his fifth defensive coordinator in six years.  I’m told that’s a thought that really bothers him.

Bills Unofficially Say Bye To Byrd

Posted on March 3, 2014 by Patrick Moran

jarius-byrd2The deadline has passed with the Buffalo Bills having declined to place the franchise tag on Jairus Byrd.  The Bills could’ve retained his rights for 2014 by designating him and paying $8.4 million for 2014, with an opportunity to agree to a long-term deal up through mid-July.

While technically Byrd can still negotiate with the Bills exclusively before March 11 and as a free agent after that, don’t be mistaken—Byrd has played his last down as a Buffalo Bill.

So since the start of the offseason the Bills have now lost their defensive coordinator and arguably their best player.

Sounds promising.

I largely refrain from letting emotions getting the better of me when it comes to Bills personnel decisions. I consider is my duty to bring readers information and when possible, insight.  In the case, however, I got nothing positive to spin when it comes to this organization right now.  Quite frankly, the fan in me is incensed.

It’s been reported the Bills made an aggressive offer to Byrd recently, which was rejected, and at that time the front office decided they wouldn’t tag Byrd, likely knowing he won’t commit to the organization long-term.

Bills Unofficially Say Bye To Byrd – continue reading…

Report: Bills Unlikey To Tag Byrd

Posted on March 2, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Jairus ByrdThe Buffalo Bills have until 4pm Monday to use the franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd.  According to a report from WGR’s Joe Buscaglia, it’s unlikely to happen.

Buscaglia cites a source that says not only are the Bills unlikely to use the tag again on Byrd before Monday’s deadline, they’re also unlikely to reach any type of deal with Byrd before the three-time Pro Bowler reaches free agency on March 11.

Translation— so long, Jairus Byrd.

In theory the Bills could still sign Byrd to a long-term deal before free agency begins and technically still can even after shopping season begins, but the reality is once tomorrow passes without the Bills tagging Byrd, his Buffalo career will become a thing of the past.

It would cost the Bills $8.43 million…and plenty of headaches to tag Byrd again.

Report: Bills Unlikey To Tag Byrd – continue reading…

Friday Bills News & Notes

Posted on February 21, 2014 by Patrick Moran

BillsHere are a few Buffalo Bills related items I’m hearing on Friday via various people. I wouldn’t call it any of it groundbreaking, but perhaps it’s worth a glance anyway.

Of course, the big-ticket Bills saga this offseason remains the Jairus Byrd contract watch. Buffalo is currently in the window of opportunity to franchise tag the pending free agent again, this time at a cost of around $8.3 million. The Bills obviously want Byrd back, and I have no inside knowledge on what they’re willing to pay to retain him long term.  What I do know, or should say have heard is there’s no way Byrd is signing for a penny less than being the highest paid safety in the league.  I reported on January 21 that Byrd is looking for at least $9 million per year. Now I’m hearing he may actually want more to not test the open market.

The sides haven’t formally met to try and iron out a deal, although that’s expected in the coming days.  From what I gather Byrd is determined to see how much he can fetch as a free agent and as crazy as it sounds, his number could land very close to $10 million annually.  The list of suitors around the league would be formidable, with Indianapolis, Miami, Green Bay and Cleveland among the possible destinations.  Make no mistake about it—Byrd will be a hot commodity if he reaches the market.

Having said that, even in the worst case the Bills still have control of Byrd for another year, should they choose to go down the same path as 2013.

As far as a potential tag-and-trade goes, that’s one area where Byrd actually has leverage. Any team willing to deal for Byrd will have to agree to a long-term deal before surrendering a draft pick of any value.  If Byrd doesn’t like the situation he can simply inform an interested franchise that he’ll refuse to sign beyond 2014.  There isn’t a team, at least not one with sense that will trade a first or second rounder to what may amount as a rental player.  Like it or not, this isn’t the NHL, folks.

Friday Bills News & Notes – continue reading…

Grading The 2011 Bills Draft – 3 Years Later

Posted on February 20, 2014 by Patrick Moran

DareusA rule of thumb when assessing any NFL draft is to let things simmer for three full seasons before serving up any grades. Fortunately for the Buffalo Bills, remaining loyal to that formula makes the 2011 class look plenty more appealing than if you jumped the gun.

The Bills 2011 draft appeared disastrous if you rendered a verdict one year ago, especially considering the team had two of the first 34 picks.  One NFL campaign later that Buddy Nix-orchestrated train wreck is more pleasant on the eyes when reviewing the list, as the first two picks became important pieces to a defense that emerged among the league’s best in several significant categories.

The Bills finished second in the NFL with a franchise-best 57 sacks and also finishing second in the league with 23 interceptions. It was a significant ascent from the 36 sacks and 12 interception totals the Bills accumulated in 2012.

Marcell Dareus and Aaron Williams, the Bills first two picks in 2011 deserve a lot of credit for the rising.

But as a whole, how was that Bills draft class? Most would say it’s ranged from by and large pedestrian to downright inadequate, especially when you see how agonizingly close future NFL superstars came off the board just moments after several Bills selections.

Let’s take a closer look and hand out a final grade:

Grading The 2011 Bills Draft – 3 Years Later – continue reading…