Posted on March 11, 2014 by Patrick Moran
NFL 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.
Posted on March 11, 2014 by Patrick Moran
Without 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.
Continue reading ‘Source: Bills Haven’t Pulled Byrd Offer’
Senior Javon McCrea has been named to the All-MAC First Team for the third straight season, while senior Joshua Freelove was named All-MAC Honorable Mention and Shannon Evans was named to the All-MAC Freshman Team. The all-conference teams were announced by the league office on Monday afternoon.
McCrea becomes UB’s first ever three-time All-MAC First Team selection and he was his most dominant this season. McCrea has averaged 18.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season and he leads the MAC in points and rebounds amongst conference games only at 19.6 and 9.8, respectively. McCrea has been named the MAC East Player of the Week three times this year and he went over the 30-point mark three times, including a career-high 34 points in a senior day victory over Bowling Green.
McCrea became UB’s all-time leading scorer earlier in the year and he currently is just three points shy of 2,000 for his career entering this week’s MAC Tournament. McCrea also has 975 rebounds as he looks to be just the fourth player in MAC history with 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
Freelove was named All-League Honorable Mention as he averaged 13.1 points per game in his first season with Bulls. His total increased to 13.4 points per game in league games only, which was good for 12th in the league in scoring. Freelove was named MAC East Player of the Week following a career-high 24 points in a win over Miami (OH), including 21 in the second half. He also had 21 points in a win over Akron and he was tied for second in the MAC in league games for three-pointers per game.
Continue reading ‘McCrea Named First-Team All-MAC;’
Posted on March 9, 2014 by Patrick Moran
The Buffalo Sabres may be the worst team in the NHL, but they gave the defending Stanley Cup champs all they could handle Sunday at the First Niagara Center. In the end, however, it was a familiar result for Buffalo as they were on the wrong end of a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Patrick Kane’s homecoming.
The South Buffalo native played in front of his hometown crowd for the first time since October 2010 and with the stands filled with family and fans, didn’t disappoint. Kane recovered a loose puck in the Sabres zone early in the first period, skated around Chad Ruhwedel and buried a perfect wrist shot that went through Ruhwedel’s legs and over goaltender Jhonas Enroth in the upper right corner of the net just 3:12 into the game.
Jonathan Toews scored the game-winner for the Hawks early in the third period at 1:34 after spinning away from Sabres defensemen Jamie McBain.
Drew Stafford scored Buffalo’s lone goal on assists from Cory Conacher and Drew Stafford at 9:11 of the first period. Conacher made his Sabres debut.
Continue reading ‘Kane Scores In Buffalo Return’
The Canisius men’s basketball saw its run toward a MAAC Championship come to an end Sunday night in the MassMutual Center as the Golden Griffins fell to top-seeded Iona 75-72. The Griffs (21-12) trailed by 10 points with 4:00 left on the clock and made a furious comeback effort late, but the Gaels (22-9) were able to hold off the Blue and Gold’s charge to advance to Monday’s conference title game where they will meet Manhattan.
Senior Billy Baron led Canisius with 23 points as four Golden Griffins reached double figures. Senior Chris Manhertz recorded his second consecutive double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman Zach Lewis scored 13 points while senior Chris Perez added 12 points.
“We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. Iona got off to a good start but we made a great comeback and really wanted to be more aggressive in the second half, Canisius coach Jim Baron said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our guys, especially the four seniors. They have showed tremendous character, heart and determination.
“Iona just beat us today. They hit the shots. I told our guys to be proud and not hang their heads.”
Continue reading ‘Griffs Season Ends With Loss In MAAC Semis’
Just over three weeks removed from game action, concerns about rust proved to be accurate for the Buffalo Bandits early. But, the Bandits regained form, scoring three unanswered goals to end the fourth quarter to close out the victory.
Dhane Smith’s third goal of the game 11:12 into the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winning-goal, as the Buffalo Bandits defeated the Minnesota Swarm 12-9 on Saturday at First Niagara Center.
Chad Culp started the break that produced the game-winner. Culp lost the ball, but Smith found the ball and beat Higgins over the shoulder to give the Bandits the lead.
“(Culp) got held down, and I kept sprinting,” Smith said. “I kind of panicked, and did not know what I was going to do. I stuck with what I had and I put the ball into the net.”
Mark Steenhuis added four goals to lead Buffalo. Smith recorded his fourth hat trick of the season, while defenseman Steve Priolo chipped in a team-high four assists. Goaltender Anthony Cosmo held the Swarm to just three goals over the last three quarters to earn his seventh win of the season.
Continue reading ‘Bandits Overcome Slow Start, Improve To 7-2′
Off a career-high 34 points from senior Javon McCrea, the University at Buffalo men’s basketball team became MAC East Division Champions on Saturday, defeating Bowling Green, 88-65, in front of 5,452 fans for Senior Day. The Bulls improved their record to 19-9 and finish conference play with a school-record 13 victories. The Bulls will open up MAC Tournament play on Thursday evening in the quarterfinals.
After a pre-game celebration of UB’s five-member senior class, head coach Bobby Hurley started all five seniors: Corey Raley-Ross, Auraum Nuiriankh, Joshua Freelove, Jarod Oldham and McCrea. The Bulls even got an early three-pointer from Nuiriankh. The Falcons never led by more than two in the contest, which they held with 15:24 left before the Bulls answered with a Shannon Evans three pointer. The Bulls ended up going on a 12-4 run to open up a 20-14 lead. The Bulls had their biggest lead of the half right at the end, going into the break up 41-31.
The second half turned into a show that the season-high crowd won’t soon forget. The Falcons cut the lead into single digits at 48-39, but the Bulls answered with an 11-1 run, which was capped off on an unbelievable fast-break dunk where Evans passed the ball off the backboard and sophomore Justin Moss slammed it home. A layup from Evans with 9:32 left gave the Bulls a 66-42 lead, but the Falcons cut into the lead, trimming the Buffalo advantage to 71-58. However, a layup from McCrea ignited an 11-1 run, which put the Bulls up 82-59 with 2:57 remaining. UB went on to score the final six points of the game, with the final exclamation point coming on a put-back dunk from Moss.
Continue reading ‘UB Wins MAC East Division Title’
With all five starters scoring in double figures, the No. 4 Canisius men’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals of the MAAC Championship for the first time since the 2002 season with a hard-fought, 71-65 win over the No. 5 seed Siena Saints in the MassMutual Center on Saturday afternoon.
Canisius will face No. 1 seed Iona College at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. That game will be shown live on ESPN3.
Senior Billy Baron led Canisius with 17 points to go along with six assists and five steals. Senior Chris Manhertz posted his 13th career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Chris Perez scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting while freshman Zach Lewis had 10 points, four assists and four steals. Senior Jordan Heath scored 11 points, including 3-for-6 on 3-pointers.
“This was a real battle today, a true conference tournament game,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “Give Siena credit. They played hard and they played with a lot of confidence. I think the difference was our ability to get the ball inside, especially in the second half. Chris Manhertz has been a leader for us for the last two years and he showed again today why he’s a true leader. He stepped up when we needed him to, but we got a lot of great effort from everyone at both ends of the floor.”
Continue reading ‘Griffs Battle Past Siena in MAAC Quarterfinals’
The Niagara Purple Eagles had their season come to an end on Saturday night with an 89-80 defeat to the third-seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats in the 2014 MAAC Tournament Quarterfinals.
“A very hard fought game and extremely hard played by both teams and I thought our guys really competed hard,” head coach Chris Casey said. “As you have it in most of these tournament games, it comes down to few a plays and they made a couple of them. I’m proud of the way we fought against a very good team.”
Quinnipiac, which trailed for the majority of the first half, led 38-36 at halftime. The Purple Eagles (7-26) went on a 15-4 run to take a 23-13 lead at the 10:54 mark. Quinnipiac (20-10) answered with a 15-5 run to tie the game at 28-28 with 4:10 left and eventually led 36-31 before Niagara reeled off five straight points to even the score at 36-36 with 20 seconds left.
The Bobcats began to pull away midway through the second half. A Marvin Jordan 3-pointer brought Niagara to 50-49 with 15:13 remaining before Quinnipiac went on a 24-10 spurt en route to its biggest lead, 74-58, with 6:43 left.
Continue reading ‘Niagara Ousted In MAAC Quarterfinals, 89-80′
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference announced Friday night that Canisius senior guard Billy Baron has been named the 2014 Pepsi MAAC Player of the Year, as voted on by the league’s 11 head coaches. Baron received the award at the MAAC’s annual Postseason Awards Show, which was held in the in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Baron is the third Canisius player to win the MAAC’s Player of the Year title, joining previous MAAC Players of the Year Craig Wise (1995) and Darrell Barley (1996).
“It is an honor and a privilege to be named the MAAC Player of the Year,” Baron said. “I’m also very honored to have earned the trust from my teammates to make decision with the ball throughout the year. This coaching staff has done a great job in helping me make strides as a player and stay consistent. I honestly believe this award goes to my teammates as much as it goes to me. To win this award, you have to win games. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are now. This is a really good league. There are a lot of guys that can play and every night is a battle. I’m proud to be a part of helping turn the Canisius men’s basketball program around.”
Baron finished the regular season by averaging 24.4 points, 5.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Golden Griffins, which earned the No. 4 seed in this weekend’s MAAC Championship with a 20-11 overall record and a 14-6 mark in conference action. Baron, who ranks third nationally in scoring average, is just the second player in school history to score more than 750 total points in a season, and he is the program’s single-season record holder for made 3-point field goals, as he has knocked down 98 shots from behind the arc this season. His 161 total assists makes him the third player in school history to have 150-plus assists in back-to-back seasons, and his 5.2 assists per game average ranks second in the conference.
Continue reading ‘Baron Named 2014 Pepsi MAAC Player of the Year’
The eleventh-seeded Niagara Purple Eagles withstood a ferocious second half rally en route to eliminating No. 6 seed Marist, 78-76, in the 2014 MAAC Tournament First Round on Thursday.
“It was a very hard fought game with two teams playing extremely hard and wanting their season to continue,” head coach Chris Casey said. “I thought we were terrific in the first half. In the second half, we needed to make a few more free throws. We kept just enough of a cushion as they came at us hard in the final seven minutes. We stayed tough and I’m proud of the guys for staying tough and we made the plays necessary to win the game.”
Antoine Mason led all scorers with 38 points, the fifth most in a MAAC Tournament game, for his 12th 30-point game of the season, and dished out a game-high four assists. Mason also continued his scoring success against the Red Foxes (12-19) as he increased his scoring average to 23.5 points per game in six all-time meetings. Marcus Ware had his third career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Marvin Jordan added 11 points.
The Purple Eagles (7-25) lit up Marist in the opening 20 minutes. NU shot 65.4 percent from the field which was the highest first half field goal percentage since shooting 71.4 percent (20-for-28) versus Howard on No. 20, 2009. NU finished the game shooting a season-high 60 percent from the field.
Niagara sprinted to a 16-3 lead while Marist struggled from the field, going 1-for-11 during NU’s run. The Purple Eagles broke Marist’s full court pressure with ease which led to layups and a 28-10 advantage in points in the paint as Niagara took a 43-24 halftime lead.
Continue reading ‘Niagara Survives First Game in MAAC Tourney’
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Patrick Moran
Earlier Thursday the Buffalo Sabres announced that former goaltending great Dominik Hasek will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame later this month. Perhaps current Sabres netminder Jhonas Enroth was paying homage, because he put on a Hall worthy performance of his own in the Sunshine state.
Enroth made 43 saves, including many of the spectacular variety to help the Sabres steal a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning despite being outshout, 44-21.
Tyler Myers, Marcus Foligno and Cody Hodgson provided the Sabres offensive ammunition as Buffalo improved to 3-1 since the Olympic break—a remarkable feat considering Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick have all been sent packing over the past six days.
With Miller gone Enroth has the first chance of his career to stake claim as Buffalo’s long-term answer in net, and he continues to pass the eye test. Since the Olympic break Enroth is 3-1 with a 2.50 goals against average and .931 save percentage. He’s had at least 29 saves in four straight starts.
“As many shots as he had and a handful being point blank shots and point blank saves,” Sabres Myers said. “He kept us in it the whole game and we wouldn’t have won without him.”
Despite the lopsided shots on net disadvantage , Enroth was no one-man show for the Sabres.
Continue reading ‘Enroth, Myers Shine In 3-1 Win At Tampa’
The Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame Selection Committee announced the induction of Dominik Hasek into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. Hasek, one of the most prolific goaltenders in NHL history, will be officially inducted as the 42nd member of the Sabres Hall of Fame in a ceremony on March 29, prior to the team’s home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at First Niagara Center.
Hasek, who was originally acquired by the Sabres from the Chicago Blackhawks on Aug. 7, 1992, remains as one of the most decorated goaltenders in team and league history, appearing in a total of 491 games for the Blue and Gold over a span of nine seasons from 1992-2001. While backstopping the Sabres, he became the first goaltender in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy twice (1997 & 1998), while also capturing six Vezina Trophies (1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 & 2001) as well as the Wiliam M. Jennings Trophy (1994 & 2001) and the Lester B. Pearson Award twice (1997 & 1998).
During his time in Buffalo, Hasek held numerous franchise records and, upon his departure from the Sabres, owned the records for most all-time games played (491), wins (234), shutouts (55) and lowest career goals-against average (2.22). Hasek appeared in a career-high 72 games for the club in the 1997-98 season, setting a team record with 13 shutouts, only to follow that up with a career-best 1.87 GAA, .937 save percentage and a Stanley Cup Final berth in 1998-99.
After his time with the Sabres, he spent a total of four seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, where he earned a pair of Stanley Cup championships (2002 & 2008) and also suited up for the Ottawa Senators during the 2005-06 season.
Continue reading ‘Sabres To Induct Hasek Into Hall’
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Patrick Moran
The 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.
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Chris Ostrander
It may have taken a late flurry, but Tim Murray put his stamp on the organization with a firm, aggressive series of trades around the 2014 trade deadline.
He got started early by sending Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis on Friday and threw his hat in the ring with one of the earlier trades on Wednesday. Murray shipped Brayden McNabb, two second round picks and Jonathan Parker to Los Angeles for Hudson Fasching and Nicolas Deslauriers.
Murray’s punctuated his first deadline with two 11th hour deals involving three of this pending UFAs that ensured previous investments would continue to pay dividends. After finding a dance partner to take Matt Moulson (and Cody McCormick), Murray managed to flip Jaroslav Halak for a younger goaltender with term.
It was a productive deadline that provides the framework for the way Murray will shape the roster through the 2014 and 15 drafts. Two drafts that will see the Sabres make four (possibly five) first round selections.
Buffalo holds additional picks throughout the 2014 and 2015 second round and despite shipping two of them to Los Angeles along with McNabb, Murray came out even after pulling two second round picks in exchange for Moulson. I thought he put it well when he said the team was helped more by the two forwards acquired from LA.
Continue reading ‘Deadline Solidifies Foundation For Sabres Rebuild’
The Buffalo Sabres today announced that the 10th Annual Scotty Bowman Showcase will take place on Wednesday, April 9th at First Niagara Center. The 2014 Scotty Bowman Showcase consists of three all-star hockey games between players from Buffalo, NY and their rivals from Rochester, NY. Admission for the games is $5.
The first game will begin at 6 p.m. with high school juniors from the two cities facing off against one another for the Tim Horton Memorial Cup. In 2013, the Buffalo juniors won the second annual Tim Horton Memorial Cup.
The next game will take place at 7:30 p.m. between high school seniors from each city. The winner of the second game will be awarded the Scotty Bowman Cup. This award and the event are named after the legendary Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history. Bowman will be in attendance to present the Bowman Cup to the victorious senior team. The Rochester seniors won last year’s Bowman Cup, improving to 3-6 in the event’s nine-year history.
The third game will feature players from Buffalo and Rochester who play prep school or junior hockey, either locally or elsewhere. The junior and senior-year high school-aged players will face off for the Rick Martin Memorial Cup at 9 p.m. All three games will consist of two 22-minute halves.
Continue reading ‘Scotty Bowman Showcase Returns April 9′
Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran
Buffalo Sabres fans knew it wasn’t a matter of if but where he was going. In the waning minutes before the NHL trade deadline Wednesday afternoon, the Sabres finally traded forward Matt Moulson, along with Cody McCormick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for TorreyMitchell and second-round picks in 2014 and 2016.
Buffalo also traded goaltender Jaroslav Halak and a 2015 third-round pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for goaltender Michael Neuvirth and defensemen Rostislav Klesla.
John Vogl of the Buffalo News was the first to report the news on both. The trades weren’t announced until after the deadline had passed.
Moulson scored 11 goals in 44 games for Buffalo after coming over from the New York Islanders along a first and second round draft pick for Thomas Vanek on October 27. He was/still is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
The end result shows the Sabres looking brilliant by dealing Vanek, who entered 2013-14 on the final year of his deal with no chance of re-signing with Buffalo beyond this season. Essentially the Sabres ended up with Moulson for a half-season plus a first-round pick and three second-rounders for a contract-expiring Vanek.
Vanek was dealt by the Islanders today to Montreal for a second-round pick and a prospect. I’d imagine Islander fans are calling for Garth Snow’s head right now.
Continue reading ‘Sabres Trade Moulson, McCormick, Halak’
Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran
According to reports, the Buffalo Sabres have traded defensemen Brayden McNabb along with two second-round draft picks and Jonathan Parker to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for prospects Hudson Fasching and Nicholas Deslaurier.
Fasching, 18, is the biggest name in this deal. He’s currently playing college hockey at the University of Minnesota, where he’s scored 12 goals and 27 points in 31 games this year. A fourth-round pick of the Kings in 2013, Fasching is a big winger at six-feet-two and 218 pounds.
He also played for Team USA this year at the World Juniors, where he had two goals and an assist in 3 games. Here’s a bio of his USA junior career. If you want to know about his character, Kris Barker (SabresProspects.com) posted a link to this ESPN story from 2011 that’s well worth the read.
Deslaurier, a defensemen who has been converting to forward, was the Kings third-round draft pick in 2009. In his third year in the Kings minor league system, Deslaurier has 18 goals and 39 points in 60 games with the AHL Manchester Monarchs this season.
Here’s more information about Deslaurier, written last September courtesy of SB Nation.
McNabb, 23 was the 66th pick of the Sabres in the 2009 draft. The defensemen has played in 37 NHL games in parts of the past two seasons with the Sabres, scoring a goal and adding seven assists. McNabb is regarded as one of the Sabres best prospects, but the team has solid depth when it comes to talented young defensemen in the system.
McNabb has seven goals and 22 assists in 38 games for Rochester this season.
The two second-rounder the Sabres surrendered in the trade were the same Buffalo acquired when trading Robyn Regehr to LA last year–on each in 2014 and ’15.
Continue reading ‘Sabres Deal McNabb, Picks To Kings For Prospects’
Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran
The Buffalo Sabres have claimed Ottawa Senators forward Cory Conacher off waivers. Of course, Conacher has strong local ties as he once starred for the Canisius College hockey team.
Conacher, 24, went undrafted but earned his way onto the Tampa Bay roster in 2012-13 and scored 24 points in 35 games. He was traded to Ottawa in exchange for goaltender Ben Bishop last April and at the time of the deal was the second leading rookie scorer in the NHL.
He finished sixth last season in Calder Cup voting, given annual to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.
Conacher struggled with Ottawa, particularly this season as he scored just four goals and had 20 points in 60 games with the club before being placed on waivers yesterday.
He has 15 goals and 49 points in 107 games, including four game-winning goals. With Ottawa he had 25 points in 72 games.
Continue reading ‘Sabres Claim Conacher Off Waivers’
Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran
The 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.
Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran
After 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.
Continue reading ‘Rejoice: Bills Postpone Toronto Series’
The University at Buffalo men’s basketball team had its four-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night as the Bulls got down early and fell at Akron, 83-71. The loss drops the Bulls to 18-9 and 12-5 in the MAC, still one game ahead of the Zips in the MAC East heading into the final regular season contest.
Akron got off to a quick start in front of the home crowd, racing out to a 21-7 lead just six minutes into the ball game. The Bulls continued to trail by 14 with 12:19 left when they went on an 11-0 run, capped off on a layup from senior Javon McCrea. The Bulls would cut even closer as a pair of free throws from freshman Shannon Evans pulled the Bulls within one with 2:44, but those would be UB’s last points of the half as Akron went into the break up, 35-30.
Senior Joshua Freelove was scoreless in the first half, but came out firing in the second half, hitting a three to open the final 20 minutes, en route to 17 second-half points. UB opened the second half on a 17-7 run, taking its largest lead of the game at 47-42 with 14:49 left. The Bulls continued to lead by five when Akron went on an 11-0 run to retake a 56-50 lead with 10:47 left in the second half.
A three from sophomore Jarryn Skeete cut the deficit back to three, but the Zips went on another 15-5 run to take a 71-58 lead with 3:18 left. The Zips went on to score their final 13 points from the free throw line over the final 3:18 of the game to preserve the lead.
Continue reading ‘Slow Starts Dooms UB At Akron’
Posted on March 4, 2014 by Patrick Moran
Last 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.
Posted on March 4, 2014 by Chad "Centercourt" Andrews
We waited all season long for it.
Olean vs. East for the overall Class B title.
It was billed as the game of the year before the season even began. After playing each other at Buff State in the three seasons prior, the final chapter of this four-year rivalry had to be written. They were the only two schools to occupy the top spot in the small school poll this year. Certainly there were times this season when the case could be made for either team, times when each team played at such a high level, you were convinced they were the best. I personally went back-and-forth on it – Olean…no East…wait, Olean has turned the corner…hold on, East has its chip back.
Tough for a game to live up to the kind of season-long hype it was given. But just before tip, I looked around the Buffalo Sports Arena to see the place was full – a bigger crowd than even the Class AA final drew. You could see the championship swagger in the eyes of the Olean players. The chip on the shoulders of East’s players complimented the focused scowls on their faces. There was an undeniable buzz in the air that happens before a special game.
It was a special game. It lived up to all the hype and then some, creating more lasting memories. The game of the year was just that – a thriller between #1 & #2 that wasn’t decided until after the clock showed all zeros.
Continue reading ‘HS: Olean vs East Lived Up To The Hype’
Posted on March 4, 2014 by Patrick Moran
I 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.