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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…

Ranking List Of Potential Bills Cuts

Posted on February 19, 2014 by Patrick Moran

PearsIf there’s one thing about this year’s Super Bowl worth savoring, assuming you’re no Seattle Seahawks fan is that the second the clock struck zero on Denver’s debacle (and sorry Peyton, but it was “embarrassing”), the NFL season officially concluded and there’s now 32 teams back to having a .500 record.

It’s going to be an interesting offseason around the league for many teams, and that list should include the Buffalo Bills. For starters and by far most prominently, the front office must decide not if they want to retain Jairus Byrd, but what lengths they’re willing to go in order to make that happen. I reported a few weeks ago Byrd had no interest in signing a deal for anything less than making him the highest paid safety in the league.  Or of course, they can franchise tag him again.

The organization also has less nerve-racking decisions to make on a few other free agents of their own, including Scott Chandler, Alex Carrington and Dan Carpenter among others.

Then come March 11 there’s free agency.  While the Bills won’t be voiceless during the open shopping period, I strongly suspect they’ll be dedicated to using the majority of their cap space into keeping key players that could become free agents in 2015—a list that may include Marcell Dareus, C.J. Spiller,  Aaron Williams, Jerry Hughes and Fred Jackson.

It culminates with the NFL draft, set to begin on May 8. For a team trying to halt a 14-year playoff drought, nailing the ninth overall selection (among other picks) is as essential as ever.

But more on that another time.

Before more significant parts of the offseason begins, teams around the league will spend the next several weeks cutting some dead weight from their roster and/or cap salaries that simply don’t fit. The Bills are no exception.

Ranking List Of Potential Bills Cuts – continue reading…

Finally! Reed Gets In Hall of Fame

Posted on February 1, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Reed HallAfter waiting nine long years, the greatest wide receiver in Buffalo Bills history will be joining football’s greatest fraternity.  Andre Reed finally got the call he’s been waiting for and so richly deserved, and the former Bills great will be inducted into the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Reed was announced Saturday as part of the 2014 class along with Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Aeneas Williams, Michael Strahan, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey.

The Bills organization will now have their tenth member inducted come August as Reed joins O.J. Simpson, Billy Shaw, Joe DeLamielleure, Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, James Lofton, Marv Levy and Ralph Wilson.

Reed is the Bills all-time leader in receptions (941), receiving yards (13,198) and receiving touchdowns (86) in a 15-year Buffalo career that saw him earn seven Pro Bowl nods. Beyond the stats he’s regarded as one of the toughest wide receivers in league history, particularly in going over the middle of the field.

Reed had to overcome obstacles on the field throughout his career and while his wait to get in the Hall has often been agonizing, he overcame one more Saturday.  He becomes the first Buffalo Bill up for induction later than his third year of eligibility.

On a personal note, I choose to make covering the Bills and Sabres on the blog an unbiased cause. While I’ve grown up in Buffalo a fan of all their sports teams I blog about now, I try to cover them objectively and not come off as a fan.  However, in this case it’s impossible.  Reed was one of my favorite Bills ever and when word got out that Reed would be going into the Hall, I ran around my house fist-pumping like a young child who just received the biggest gift on his Christmas list. I’m thrilled for Reed and don’t care to try and contain it.  Reed’s inclusion was overdue, and this is one the happier days for Bills fans in recent memory.

August 2 is going to be a great day for Bills fans. I can’t wait.

We’ll have plenty of reaction tomorrow.

Thoughts On Schwartz As Bills Defensive Coordinator

Posted on January 25, 2014 by Patrick Moran

jim-schwartzTo be perfectly honest, I was somewhat floored Friday evening to learn the Buffalo Bills hired Jim Schwartz as their defensive coordinator just one day after Mike Pettine packed and went to Cleveland.

I admittedly was hopeful the Bills could convince linebackers coach Jim O’Neil, Pettine’s disciple to step into the job.  (For the record, no decision on letting O’Neil leave for Cleveland has been made as of this posting, I’m going on the assumption Buffalo does the right thing and lets him advance his career by joining Pettine).

My school of thought was much like Pettine coming to Buffalo in 2013 to break away from Rex Ryan and prove himself, O’Neil would do the same rather than follow Pettine to Cleveland, where he’ll be the defensive coordinator by title only.  Make no mistake about it—the Browns defense is ultimately Pettine’s show, just as Curtis Modkins was offensive coordinator by media guide standards only when Chan Gailey was Bills head coach.

What I fully anticipated was an in-house advancement for Donnie Henderson, not a promotion that would’ve roused many. He’s coached on six NFL teams and a bunch of college squads, was a coordinator twice (mixed results at best) and the current crop of Bills defenders really seem to like him. That, and the fact Doug Marrone brought Henderson with him from Syracuse had me convinced he’d be the guy once Pettine left.

Clearly I was wrong.

Thoughts On Schwartz As Bills Defensive Coordinator – continue reading…

Mike Pettine Leaves Bills For Browns

Posted on January 23, 2014 by Patrick Moran

PettineThe Buffalo Bills took substantial steps towards becoming an elite NFL defense during the 2013 season. If that trend is to continue moving forward, they’ll be doing so without defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

The first coach hand-picked by Doug Marrone when he got the Bills head coaching job last January, Pettine is the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Pettine met with the Browns Tuesday for over four hours, his second interview before formally being offered and accepting the job Thursday after meeting with the team for a third time.

Pettine replaces Rob Chudzinski, who was unceremoniously dumped by the Browns after just one season.

Mary Kay Calbot from The Cleveland Plains Dealer first reported that the deal was done.

The team has confirmed the hire and called for a press conference at 4:45pm today.

“Mike is the epitome of what we want the Browns to be — tough, aggressive and innovative — with a blue-collar, team-first mentality.” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said via Twitter.

Speaking with, Marrone offered congratulations to Pettine.

“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Mike on becoming the Browns new head coach and thank him for all of his time and efforts with our team this past season,” he said. “ He did an excellent job of improving our defense and we wish him the best.”

Before coming to Buffalo as defensive coordinator Pettine spent the previous four seasons in the same position with the New York Jets.  However, that was with Rex Ryan as head coach and Ryan had enormous input with the defense. 2013 with the Bills was Pettine’s first year completely running the show and his variations of Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense was instantly effective.

Mike Pettine Leaves Bills For Browns – continue reading…