Sal Capaccio of WGR550 reports of a league source that says the Buffalo Bills and wide receiver Donald Jones are working on a contract extension that would keep the pending restricted free agent in Buffalo for potentially multiple seasons.
Jones had the best season of his young career in 2012, catching 41 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns despite missing the last three games with an undisclosed illness and a fourth game with calf injury. Assuming Capaccio’s report is accurate the team is over any concerns they may have about Jones’ health.
By extending Jones, the Bills would bypass the restricted free agent tender stage. Buffalo has the right to place a tender on Jones of $1.323 million what would give them the right to match any offer on the open market once free agency begins March 12. Since Jones wasn’t drafted the team wouldn’t receive any compensation if they declined to match, if they used the minimal offer. They could definitely lock up Jones, if an extension isn’t reached by placing a second-round tender of $2.023 million for 2013. That would mean a team wanting to sign him would have to cough up a second-round draft pick, which is incredibly unlikely to happen.
While it benefits the Bills to bring Jones back into the mix, it hardly means the team won’t continue trying to upgrade the wide receiver position. Jones is a player that brings quality depth to the roster if nothing else, but it’s questionable if he’s truly starter material—at least on a quality offense.
Wide receiver David Nelson is another young Bills receiver scheduled to become a restricted free agent. However, expect the Bills to place the lowest tender on him as he’ll have to prove he can come back from his torn ACL in 2013. It’s doubtful Buffalo would want to give him a multi-year deal at this time.
General manager Buddy Nix has stated the team would like to get their hands on a bigger, outside receiver that can go up and get the ball. While the draft is certainly a likely possibility to target a receiver, don’t turn your back on the prospects of that happening in free agency. One guy to keep an eye on is 33-year old Anquan Boldin, who proved he can still play at a high level for Baltimore in 2012 but may end up released for salary cap reasons.
There’s a report out that Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome doesn’t have interest in restructuring veteran contracts and with Boldin due $5.5 million this coming season, it could send him packing—even after a spectacular playoff run.
Surely that would interest in the Bills, particularly after seeing in 2012 what crafty veteran Reggie Wayne did for Andrew Luck and the Bills possibly set to turn the keys over to a rookie quarterback.
Of course, most Bills are interested in hearing about contract talk news regarding Jairus Byrd and Andy Levitre. Byrd isn’t going anywhere as he’s a lock to get franchise tagged if a deal can’t be reached prior to March 4. I’d imagine talks between Levitre and the club will be heating up very soon. Both sides would like see Levitre stay in Buffalo, but it won’t be cheap. He’ll be a hot commodity if he hits the open market.