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Bills Beat Blog



By Joe Buscaglia
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One year after his passing, Bills announce plans for Ralph Wilson statue

So much has happened over the course of one year for the Buffalo Bills franchise, but none of it could have happened without team founder and owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. having brought the franchise to the area as part of the American Football League. At the one-year mark of his passing, the Bills announced that a statue will be built in Wilson's honor outside the stadium that bears his name.

Team co-owner Kim Pegula issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:

"Mr. Wilson was an icon in both the professional football world and in the Western New York community," said Pegula. "This is our opportunity to honor his legacy and to allow our fans to share their gameday experience with the man who brought professional football to Buffalo."

Wilson originally purchased the franchise and had them competing starting in the AFL in 1960. The Bills then joined the National Football League as part of the merger in 1970.

His wife, Mary Wilson, also issued a statement with the news that her late husband would be honored in that way.

"It just seems so fitting to honor Ralph with a statue in Founder's Plaza, where fans will have the opportunity to interact and pose for photos. Ralph was so approachable and he absolutely loved the fans and he would have been honored and humbled to stand among them for all-time," said Wilson. "I think everyone will appreciate the detail in the statue, even to the point that it replicates what Ralph wore to the stadium on game days, and I want to thank Terry and Kim Pegula for honoring Ralph in this special way."

The life-size statue is based on a photo taken of Mr. Wilson with Thurman Thomas along the sidelines on October 21, 1990 during Buffalo's 30-27 victory over the New York Jets.

Additional details regarding the construction and official timeline for completion of the project will be announced at a later date. The statue will be unveiled at some point in 2015.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Details of Charles Clay's contract with Bills

The Buffalo Bills successfully acquired the apple of their free agent eye and officially have tight end Charles Clay as a member of the roster. It's the first time the Bills addressed the position in a significant manner in quite some time, and now the full details of the contract have become available.

According to official documents obtained by WGR Sports Radio 550, the five-year contract that could be worth as much as $38 million also carries a guaranteed $24.5 million for Clay, $10 million of which as a signing bonus that he receives up front. He'll receive a roster bonus of $10 million shortly into the start of the new league year in 2016, which along with the signing bonus, and base salaries for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, make up the full $24.5 million guaranteed to him.

The cap hits for Clay, with the exception of the 2016 season, are fairly manageable. The tight end will carry cap numbers of $5 million in 2015, $13.5 million in 2016, and $6.5 million from 2017 through 2019. The contract also carries a no trade clause through the first three seasons.

The 2016 cap hit is rather extreme for a player at his position, however, the Bills can lower the cap number significantly if they so choose. Since the large majority of the $13.5 million cap hit is tied to a $10 million roster bonus, Buffalo has the option to restructure the contract and convert the roster bonus into a signing bonus, which would then be prorated into the rest of the contract.

For instance (although not the only way to restructure the deal), if the Bills were to convert the entirety of the $10 million roster bonus into a signing bonus, it would reduce the team's cap number for Clay from $13.5 million down to $6 million. It would, under this scenario, raise the cap number on the final three years of the contract up to $9 million.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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NFL first: Bills-Jags London tilt to be available digitally

For the first time in franchise history, the Buffalo Bills will be playing a game in Europe. That won't be the only 'first,' for the National Football League, either.

The NFL announced on Monday that the October 25 matchup between the Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars will be available not only in local television markets, but it will be available on a digital platform to every fan around the world as well. The game will not be available on the NFL's Sunday Ticket package, according to reports.

It will be the first time in NFL history that a national regular season matchup will be shown on a platform other than a television network. The Bills and Jaguars will kick off in London at 9:30 am.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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NFL suspends blackout policy for 2015

The National Football League blackout policy for local television has been on that has met much criticism for quite some time. If a team did not sell out a home game by a certain point of the week, the game would not be eligible to be televised locally.

For 2015 at least, that much has changed.

The NFL has decided to remove the blackout policy for the 2015 season, and agreed to do so during a vote on Monday. That means that regardless of how empty a stadium is, it must be televised in the market, and the surrounding markets within a 75-mile radius of the football team.

The Buffalo Bills are one of a few teams that have been affected by the league's blackout policy over the years. While no team had a game be blacked out in 2014, both the Bills and San Diego Chargers had a game that was not seen locally due to the long standing rules.

The league recently softened the policy, allowing teams to choose the ticket sale percentage barrier that fans must cross to avoid a blackout. Teams could choose anywhere from 85-to-100 percent, and the Bills chose to keep it at the 100 marker.

The decision came at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona this week.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills get their man: Dolphins will not match offer for TE Clay

When the Buffalo Bills signed tight end Charles Clay to an offer sheet, the Miami Dolphins had until Sunday at midnight (into Monday) to declare if they were going to match the contract. Instead, the Dolphins chose to move on way ahead of the deadline.

The Bills announced on Thursday evening that the Dolphins have declined to match the offer sheet that was initially extended to the tight end. Instead, Clay officially becomes a member of the Bills organization, adding to a multitude of offensive weapons collected during the 2015 offseason.

Clay, who was transition tagged by the Dolphins prior to the start of free agency, signed a five-year, $38 million offer sheet with the Bills that comes with a guaranteed $20 million. The deal will also pay him $24.5 million over the first two years of the contract, and carry a cap hit of $12 million in 2016 according to reports.

Even though the Bills have now successfully signed a transition tagged player, they will not owe the Dolphins any draft pick compensation. The transition tag only guaranteed the right of first refusal to Miami.

Clay, 26, compiled a 56-catch season in 2014 for 605 yards and three touchdowns, but is also noted for his work as a run blocker. He is a four-year veteran and has a career yards per catch average of 11.2. The Bills' cupboards are a bit bare at the tight end position, having only MarQueis Gray, Chris Gragg and Chris Manhertz before the signing of Clay.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Report says Bills gave Harvin three-year deal: why it makes sense

The Buffalo Bills officially announced the signing of wide receiver Percy Harvin on Wednesday, in what was widely thought to be just a one-year contract worth $6 million. According to the latest report, Harvin will still make that much money for the 2015 season, but the deal he signed also helps the Bills with cap room in the short-term.

According to Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com, Harvin signed a three-year, $24 million contract that has a voidable final two seasons. The wideout gets a $3 million signing bonus, with a base salary of $2.9 million and a $100,000 workout bonus for 2015.

So what is the reason for the three-year pact?

If the numbers are accurate, it's to provide the Bills with some cap relief in 2015. By signing a three-year deal rather than the one-year, the $3 million signing bonus will be prorated over the entire duration of the deal, rather than just being associated to 2015.

The $3 million signing bonus would then be spread out over 2015, 2016 and 2017 at $1 million a piece. So, for 2015, the Bills would owe the $2.9 million base salary, the $100,000 workout bonus and the $1 million prorated signing bonus to the cap and have it only cost them $4 million.

By adding two more years to the deal, it conceivably saved the Bills $2 million on the 2015 cap, while still paying Harvin his full $6 million as originally reported. If the Bills were to void the deal after the 2015 season, they would owe $2 million in dead money to the 2016 salary cap.

The contract also gives the Bills the flexibility to keep Harvin past 2015 if they so choose, but the cap numbers would go up by quite a bit. With only a $4 million cap hit for 2015, that would leave a remaining $20 million for the final two years that have to be accounted for if the deal is not voided.

Once the full details of the deal are posted we'll have further clarification, but as of now, that's the short-term reason for a three-year deal.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of the Associated Press
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Percy Harvin, Bills officially sign on the dotted line

The Buffalo Bills made it a top priority to invest in -- and potentially fix -- an offense that left far too many yards and point on the field in 2014. They've made another move in that direction on Wednesday.

The Bills announced that unrestricted free agent wide receiver Percy Harvin officially signed with the team. It's been widely reported as a one-year deal, worth $6 million. Harvin made his lone free agent visit to Buffalo and then took some time to ponder before ultimately deciding on signing with the Bills.

Harvin is said to have a strong relationship with both Bills head coach Rex Ryan and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who both worked with the wideout in New York last season. Harvin was let go by the Jets on Tuesday afternoon, following the official acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

The wideout's struggle to fit within a locker room since he was a first-round pick out of the University of Florida in the 2009 NFL Draft has been well documented. Harvin, 26, was first traded from the Minnesota Vikings to the Seattle Seahawks for a first, a third, and a seventh-round draft pick. After only one-and-a-half seasons in Seattle, the Seahawks elected to move on and trade him to the Jets for a conditional pick.

In 2014 between the Seahawks and Jets, Harvin caught 51 passes for 483 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 202 yards between the two clubs and another touchdown.
He joins Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods as the key members of the wide receiver room at One Bills Drive.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills sign Charles Clay to offer sheet

A week after the free agency period opened in the National Football League, fans of the Buffalo Bills finally have gotten some resolution in regards to tight end Charles Clay. Well, at least for the time being.

The Bills and Clay have agreed to an offer sheet, the team announced Wednesday morning. The Miami Dolphins will have until Sunday at midnight to match the offer, otherwise, Clay will become a member of the Buffalo Bills.

According to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, the contract is worth $38 million over five years, with $20 million guaranteed. The deal, according to Carucci, will also pay him $24.5 million in cash over the first two years.

The tight end was issued the transition tag by the Dolphins, giving his original team the right of first refusal. The Dolphins have five days to match the offer, or to allow Clay to walk to the Bills. If Miami does not match, Buffalo will not owe them any compensation.

Clay, 26, compiled a 56-catch season in 2014 for 605 yards and three touchdowns, but is also noted for his work as a run blocker. He is a four-year veteran and has a career yards per catch average of 11.2. The Bills' cupboards are a bit bare at the tight end position, having only MarQueis Gray, Chris Gragg and Chris Manhertz.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Refresher: where do things stand with Bills and Charles Clay?

Even though the free agency period is a little under a week old, to many it has felt as though the Charles Clay negotiations have dragged on for a month. Clay, the transition-tagged tight end of the Miami Dolphins, is the apple of the Buffalo Bills' free agent eye in 2015.

However, nothing has happened for quite a few days. Where does everything stand at the moment? A refresher on the saga that has affectionately been branded '#ClayWatch':

To start the new year in the National Football League, the Bills flew down to Florida on a private jet and picked up Charles Clay to bring him back for a visit in Orchard Park. The team made Clay a priority in the search for a tight end to fit Greg Roman's offense, and weren't scared off by the transition tag placed on him by the Miami Dolphins.

A multi-day visit concluded with Clay heading back home to Miami without an offer sheet in hand, but that didn't deter the Bills in the courting process. With the transition tag, the Dolphins were guaranteed the right of first refusal, where they would have five days to match whatever offer sheet Clay signs with another team.

Since the visit, much happened that sent mixed signals all throughout the weekend. First, Miami signed tight end Jordan Cameron to a two-year, $15 million contract, which to many meant that the Dolphins had moved on from Clay.

The Dolphins, at least as reporters that covered the team were concerned, had not moved on from Clay. In fact, they were working on trying to convince Clay to sign an extension according to various reports.

They even went as far to shed salary with two trades over the weekend. They dealt both linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and wide receiver Mike Wallace, two big-ticket free agents signed by Miami over the past couple of years, and brought back close to no salary to count against the cap in return.

From there, it seemed they had carved out enough of cap space to re-sign Clay to an extension, which would make any offer sheet the Bills were willing to send to the tight end, in a word, moot. Then, the most recent twist and turn, courtesy of Tim Graham of The Buffalo News:
With that latest news, all signs are pointing toward the Bills and Clay getting an offer sheet signed within the next few days. So, what then can we expect from the team's offer sheet to the tight end?

Don't expect a contract that will completely crush the Bills' remaining salary cap space for 2015. The one thing that the Bills could do is to pay Clay a lot of cash up front, which thereby would limit the Dolphins' ability to match the offer because of how much cash they just used up front to pay defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

The Bills have all the motivation in the world to work out a creative way to get Clay signed to an offer sheet, so that the Dolphins would not be inclined to match the offer. One look at Buffalo's current 'depth' chart at tight end (MarQueis Gray, Chris Gragg, Chris Manhertz) will tell you all you need to know: a starter is necessary to the success of the offseason.

If somehow the Bills were to miss out on Clay, or the Dolphins change their minds and decide to pony up for the tight end, Buffalo could still look to one other notable free agent that is still unsigned. Former Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham has yet to sign with a team, even after being courted by the Oakland Raiders early on into free agency. He could be an option if all else fails.

For now, #ClayWatch continues, with the next step likely being an offer sheet being sent over by the Bills and signed by Clay. Keep checking back to WGR550.com for all the latest as the situation unfolds.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills re-sign DE Jarius Wynn

Word caught on that the Buffalo Bills had re-signed a pair of their own early in the week, and the team made the signing of the second of those players official on Saturday morning.

The Bills officially announced that they had signed reserve defensive end Jarius Wynn to a contract extension. According to a source Wynn will make $2.2 million over a two-year contract, and received a $250,000 signing bonus.

Wynn proved to be a valuable backup for the Bills in 11 games, giving both Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes a rest when they needed it. Wynn had 17 tackles and two sacks last season while playing on a one-year deal.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills nab Harvin on reported 1-year, $6m deal

The way the Buffalo Bills talked publicly after head coach Rex Ryan was hired, and with the first few moves of the offseason, one would have been led to beleive that they would run the ball 80-percent of the time. The most recent, high profile signing by the team indicates that the passing attack will very much have a place in the offense.

According to multiple reports, the Bills and unrestricted free agent wide receiver Percy Harvin have agreed to a one-year contract that will pay the enigmatic playmaker $6 million over the course of the 2015 season. Harvin made his lone free agent visit to Buffalo and then took some time to ponder before ultimately deciding on signing with the Bills.

Harvin is said to have a strong relationship with both Bills head coach Rex Ryan and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who both worked with the wideout in New York last season. Harvin was let go by the Jets on Tuesday afternoon, following the official acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

The wideout's struggle to fit within a locker room since he was a first-round pick out of the University of Florida in the 2009 NFL Draft has been well documented. Harvin, 26, was first traded from the Minnesota Vikings to the Seattle Seahawks for a first, a third, and a seventh-round draft pick. After only one-and-a-half seasons in Seattle, the Seahawks elected to move on and trade him to the Jets for a conditional pick.

In 2014 between the Seahawks and Jets, Harvin caught 51 passes for 483 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 202 yards between the two clubs and another touchdown.

The Bills have yet to officially announce the Harvin signing. He joins Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods as the key members of the wide receiver room at One Bills Drive.


Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills get to see Chandler twice; TE signs with Patriots

Former Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler won't be playing in the same city in 2015, but he'll certainly be playing in the same division.

According to multiple reports, the recently released Bills tight end signed a contract with the New England Patriots on Friday. Terms of the deal have yet to be reported.

The Bills released Chandler from the final year of his contract on Wednesday, which saved the Bills $2.25 million on the 2015 salary cap. He mulled offers from both the Patriots and Baltimore Ravens, but ultimately decided to play for the reigning Super Bowl Champions.

In five seasons with the Bills, Chandler caught 182 passes for 2,120 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also is tied for the franchise record of most touchdowns in a single season by a tight end.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Spiller finds a home, signs with Saints

The wait for C.J. Spiller is over. The former Buffalo Bills first-round pick finally found a team and is off the free agent market.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Spiller has signed as an unrestricted free agent with the New Orleans Saints on Friday afternoon. The terms of the deal have not yet been reported.

The Bills elected to move on from Spiller after trading for running back LeSean McCoy earlier in the month. Spiller reportedly turned down an offer with Buffalo that would have paid him $4.5 million per season.

In his five season with the Bills, Spiller rushed for over 1,000 yards only once. That occurred in 2012, when he had 1,244 yards, six touchdowns and a season-long average of 6.0 yards per carry. Over his career, he rushed for a total of 3,321 yards and 12 touchdowns, while catching 158 passes for 1,195 yards and an additional six touchdowns.

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Report: Harvin to mull over whether he should even go on other visits

As soon as he was released by the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills were hot on the trail of free agent wide receiver Percy Harvin. The Bills made sure that they were the first team to host Harvin for an official visit, and that exact scenario played out earlier in the week.

Now, the Bills have to wait. However, the latest bit of Intel could be perceived as seemingly favorable to the team's chances of landing the super-talented, yet enigmatic wide receiver.

According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, Harvin, who has the opportunity to visit two other teams, will instead take some time to think. A source to Florio said that the wide receiver will decide if he should even take those two visits.

If he decides against it, the natural indication would be that his lone visit -- the Bills -- would be in strong consideration to acquire his services. Harvin is said to have a strong relationship with both Bills head coach Rex Ryan and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who both worked with the wideout in New York last season.

Harvin was let go by the Jets on Tuesday afternoon, following the official acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall. In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional draft pick. Between the two franchises, Harvin caught 51 passes for 483 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 202 yards between the two clubs and another touchdown.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills, Kyle Williams agree to contract extension

Kyle Williams has spent the past nine years of life as a member of the Buffalo Bills. He liked it so much, that he's decided to extend his stay even longer.

The Bills officially announced on Friday morning that the team and Williams had agreed to a contract extension to keep the defensive tackle a member of the franchise even longer. Already signed through the 2016 season ahead of Friday's agreement, the new deal is reported to have him signed through the 2017 season as well, and is said to be worth $10.5 million according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

By extending Williams, the Bills likely created some salary cap relief for themselves in 2015, which will allow them to have more flexibility in their chase for free agents like tight end Charles Clay and wide receiver Percy Harvin. Before the deal the defensive tackle carried a cap number of $6.4 million, which will likely diminish in the wake of the new extension.

Williams has been one of the best defenders on the roster since his rookie season, even starting as a 2006 fifth-round pick out of LSU. Over his career, he has 456 tackles, 34.5 sacks, three forced fumble, and has only missed a total of 14 games.

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**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills re-sign Easley, Wynn per report

The Buffalo Bills were much improved on special teams in 2014, and a large part of it was due to the work of Marcus Easley. The former fourth-round pick hit the market as an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday, but couldn't resist the thought of returning to the Bills.

According to Aaron Wilson of NationalFootballPost.com, Easley signed a new four-year deal to remain with the Bills that will pay him a total $7 million over the span of the contract. It also will pay out a signing bonus of $1.7 million, and comes with a guaranteed $2.2 million.

Easley, 27, has appeared in 26 games over the last two seasons after he was first placed in the role of gunner on punt team and on kickoffs. As a wide receiver, he has only two receptions in his four-year career.

The Bills, according to the same report, have also re-signed backup defensive end Jarius Wynn to a two-year deal worth $2.2 million. Wynn proved to be a valuable backup for the Bills in 11 games, giving both Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes a rest when they needed it. Wynn had 17 tackles and two sacks last season while playing on a one-year deal.

The Bills have yet to officially announce the Easley and Wynn re-signings.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills officially sign QB Tyrod Taylor

It appears that Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel will have a third player that factors into the quarterback discussion. The Buffalo Bills announced on Thursday that they have signed unrestricted free agent quarterback Tyrod Taylor to an undisclosed contract.

Taylor joins Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel as the quarterbacks on the Bills roster, but the group is without a hierarcy. Or at least, that's what Taylor was told by head coach Rex Ryan and others.

Taylor told reporters via conference call that the coaches implied that there would, in fact, be a quarterback competition, and that no player was ahead of the other at this point in the offseason.

Taylor, 25, has spent all four of his NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens but has yet to make a start in his career. Taylor has appeared in 14 total games over four seasons, and completed 19-of-35 passes for 199 yards and two interceptions. He served as the backup to Joe Flacco for the entirety of his time in Baltimore.

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**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

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Percy Harvin is in Buffalo

The Buffalo Bills have addressed the rushing attack in a big way this offseason, through the additions of running back LeSean McCoy, fullback Jerome Felton and offensive guard Richie Incognito. So then what's next for the Bills' plan of attack to fix the offense?

For starters, former Pro Bowl wide receiver Percy Harvin. Confirming reports that the Bills had interest in the enigmatic wideout, the team announced Harvin was in Buffalo for an official free agent visit Wednesday. The Bills are the first team that Harvin has visited since being released on Tuesday.

Harvin was let go by the Jets on Tuesday afternoon, following the official acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall. In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional draft pick. Between the two franchises, Harvin caught 51 passes for 483 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 202 yards between the two clubs and another touchdown.

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Here comes the ground-n-pound: Bills make Felton signing official

The Buffalo Bills are going all in on fixing the offense in March. Within the past 24 hours, the Bills officially announced the acquistion of both running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Matt Cassel among a number of other free agent visits. And to further the offensive bonanza, the Bills officially added one more to the fold.

The team announced on Wednesday afternoon that unrestricted free agent fullback Jerome Felton has agreed to a contract and has officially signed with the Bills. According to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, it's a four-year deal worth $9.2 million and brings a guaranteed $4 million to Felton's bank account.

The Bills confirmed early in the offseason that they would be instituting a fullback role into their offense, which makes the potential Felton signing a logical one. The fullback, 28, is entering his eighth NFL season and most recently spent the last three years with the Minnesota Vikings. Before that, Felton spent time with the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts.

The signing is the second significant addition to focusing on a run-centric approach on offense for the Bills, after the team traded for running back LeSean McCoy and signed him to a five-year, $40 million extension with $26.5 million guaranteed. Felton graded out on ProFootballFocus.com as the sixth-best blocking fullback in the league in 2014.

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Bills' Whaley denies story that he intended to cut Fred Jackson

Over the weekend Buffalo Bills captain and running back Fred Jackson went from just an every day, normal member of the active roster, to a player that was reportedly on the verge of losing his job.

By many accounts and reports, including a league source to WGR Sports Radio 550, Jackson was on shaky ground and it appeared as though the Bills were strongly considering moving on from the longtime Bills running back. Then on Monday, the script was flipped and suddenly the Bills appeared to have a change of heart.

Jackson remained a member of the team, and was poised to play out his contract in full -- which only extends through 2015 and will pay him $2.75 million for the year. With the saga in the rearview mirror, general manager Doug Whaley addressed the media for the first time, and was asked point blank about the episode.

The question: "Did you ever have the intention of cutting Fred Jackson?" To which Whaley hesitated briefly, and then succinctly answered, "No."

The GM was also asked about Jackson's role with the Bills on offense in 2015.

"That's gonna be up to how the coaches see him," Whaley said. Jackson will be in competition with Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon to be the second-string running back behind LeSean McCoy.

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Bills hosting TE Clay on free agent visit

The Miami Dolphins gave tight end Charles Clay the transition tag ahead of free agency to prevent him walking away without any chance to sign him. With the Buffalo Bills hot on his trail, it appears the Dolphins made the right move.

The Bills announced Tuesday night that Clay arrived in Buffalo and started his official free agent visit with the team. If the team successfully signed him to an offer sheet, the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement state that the Dolphins will receive the right of first refusal, giving them seven days to match the offer to keep him on their roster.

The Bills, according to multiple reports, are intent on issuing Clay an offer sheet to try and get him signed to the roster. Both head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Doug Whaley have stated that adding a tight end to the team would be a priority in the offseason.

Clay, 26, compiled a 56-catch season in 2014 for 605 yards and three touchdowns, but is also noted for his work as a run blocker. He is a four-year veteran and has a career yards per catch average of 11.2.

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Bills make Matt Cassel trade official

The Buffalo Bills officially have a new quarterback to compete for the starting job this spring and summer.

The team officially announced on Tuesday evening that the agreed upon trade with the Minnesota Vikings had gone through, and quarterback Matt Cassel had joined the franchise upon passing his physical. The Bills acquired Cassel for a fifth-round pick in 2015 and a seventh-round pick in 2016, while also getting a 2015 sixth-round pick in return.

Cassel played the last two seasons in Minnesota and started a grand total of nine games over that span. In 2013, when he startd six games and appeared in a total of nine, he threw for 1,807 yards, 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions and had a 60.2 completion percentage. Last year, serving as the main backup for Teddy Bridgewater, Cassel started three games and threw for 425 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.

Throughout his career in Minnesota, Kansas City and New England, he has started a total of 71 games, with a career record of 33-38, while throwing for 96 touchdowns to 70 interceptions in all his career appearances. Cassel has one year left on his current contract, and is scheduled to have a cap hit of $4.75 million in 2015.

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Report: Percy Harvin visiting the Bills first

The Buffalo Bills aren't done adding to the offense, it seems.

In what surely will be a hotly debated topic if all goes well, the Bills will play host to an extremely talented, yet troubled wide receiver. According to Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports, the Bills will be the first team unrestricted free agent wideout Percy Harvin goes to visit.

Harvin was released by the Jets on Tuesday afternoon, following the official acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall. In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional draft pick. Between the two franchises, Harvin caught 51 passes for 483 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 202 yards between the two clubs and another touchdown.

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Bills interest for naught, Revis picks Jets

If you've paid attention to the National Football League at all over the years, you'll know that Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan and cornerback Darrelle Revis more than enjoyed the partnership they had in New York. They liked it so much that early in the offseason, there was a rumor that Ryan would get his Bills to go after Revis in free agency.

That rumor has popped up once again, but this time it carried a bit more weight. Revis officially was an unrestricted free agent and could sign with any team, but that is no longer the case.

As announced by his agent on Tuesday night, Revis has elected to sign with the New York Jets -- the original team that drafted him in the first round out of Pittsburgh. The cornerback, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, will get more than $40 million guaranteed in his deal with the Jets.

Earlier in the day, Schefter outlined the Jets, Bills, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers as the five teams interested in his services.

The cornerback spent last season with the Patriots and accrued 47 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. New England declined their team option on Revis, which made him available as the free agent market officially opened up at 4 pm on Tuesday.

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Potential Bills target Bulaga re-signs with Packers

The Buffalo Bills need help along the offensive line and everyone knows it. That's why the most recent news of a potential target re-signing with his current team is likely to be met with the groans of many a Bills fan.

According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the Green Bay Packers are said to be closing in on a contract extension with offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga. Drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Bulaga has been one of the better right tackles in the league when healthy.

UPDATE:

Bulaga has re-signed with the Packers to a five-year deal worth just under $7 million, according to Rapoport.

Bulaga's name was originally mentioned with the Bills by Tim Graham of The Buffalo News, but Bulaga seems unlikely to be available to sign once the free agency market opens up. The start of the new league year, and in turn, the official kickoff of the free agency period is set to begin at 4 pm.

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Bills sign FB Jerome Felton

Over the last decade, the NFL has evolved into a pass-first and pass-friendly league. Just don't tell the 2015 Buffalo Bills that.

Without many options available to enhance the quarterback position in the offseason, the Bills are set to make yet another declaration that the ground-and-pound philosophy is not just a thing of the past. As reported first by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Bills have signed unrestricted free agent fullback Jerome Felton to an undisclosed contract.

The Bills confirmed early in the offseason that they would be instituting a fullback role into their offense, which makes the potential Felton signing a logical one. The fullback, 28, is entering his eighth NFL season and most recently spent the last three years with the Minnesota Vikings. Before that, Felton spent time with the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts.

The signing is the second significant addition to focusing on a run-centric approach on offense for the Bills, after the team traded for running back LeSean McCoy and signed him to a five-year, $40 million extension with $26.5 million guaranteed. Felton graded out on ProFootballFocus.com as the sixth-best blocking fullback in the league in 2014.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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Bills sign kickoff specialist Gay to extension

The Buffalo Bills were one of the only teams in the National Football League that employed a kickoff specialist in the 2014 season. After the team's latest announcement, it would be fair to expect that the trend will continue into 2015.

The Bills announced on Monday afternoon that they have signed kickoff extraordinaire Jordan Gay to an extension that will keep him in Buffalo for at least 2015. Gay originally joined the Bills shortly ahead of the 2014 season after being waived by the Carolina Panthers, and kicked off for the entirety of the year.

On 83 total kickoff attempts, he carried a 63.4-percent conversion percentage and allowed only 19.9 yards per return. Terms of the contract were undisclosed.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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Bills sign Jerry Hughes to 5 year, $45 million extension

The Buffalo Bills made it a priority to keep defensive end Jerry Hughes, and they most certainly got their guy.

The Bills and Hughes have agreed on an extension to keep the pass rusher in Buffalo for 2015 and beyond. The contract is worth a total of $45 million over a five-year span, per the league source. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that Hughes will make $20 million guaranteed.

As early as December when the regular season wrapped up, Hughes made a decision that he wanted to be back with the Bills. When the opportunity presented itself, he told his agent to get the deal done in Buffalo.

"He knew how I felt about the organization, how I felt about the fans, how we still have so much to accomplish here," Hughes said Monday. "I'm someone who doesn't like to leave anything undone. I want to get the job done. I think he understood that. He realized that, so, we got it done."

Since the Bills acquired Hughes in a player-for-player trade from Indianapolis ahead of the 2013 season, he has gone on to provide the team with 10 sacks in both seasons as a member of the franchise. The defensive end, 26, came to the Bills in return for inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard.

The team now has substantial money invested into all four of the starting defensive line, but it's a non-issue as far as general manager Doug Whaley is concerned:

"I've said this before: when you don't have a large chunk of your cap eaten up by a marquee quarterback, you can spend it other ways," he started. "We're gonna heavily invested in the defensive line, but that's one of the ways we're going to have to play to win with the makeup of our squad: play good defense, run the ball and have the quarterback protect the ball. So that's how we're building this team."

The Bills held a press conference to announce the signing. Listen right here:



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Jets RB leaning toward Bills, per report

The Buffalo Bills have invested quite a lot into the running back position over the last two years. Even after the Bills made a blockbuster trade to acquire running back LeSean McCoy, the team still may not be done.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, soon-to-be free agent running back Bilal Powell is keen on the idea of reuniting with Bills head coach Rex Ryan in Buffalo. Powell, who has spent the past four seasons with Ryan and the New York Jets, leaning in that direction according to the report.

The report does not indicate, however, how much interest Buffalo has in signing the 26-year old runner. Powell has 332 carries over his four-year career, totaling 1,296 yards and six touchdowns.

If the Bills were to sign Powell, they would have five players worthy of the 53-man roster at the running back position. He would join McCoy, Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown if the two sides were to agree to a contract.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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McCoy, Bills agree to five-year extension

The brand new identity of the Buffalo Bills offense has a brand new contract to go along with it. Just days after agreeing on a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire running back LeSean McCoy, the Bills and the runner have agreed on a five-year extension.

The contract, as confirmed by his agent Drew Rosenhaus on Twitter, is worth a total of $40 million over the five-year span, $26.5 million of which is guaranteed. The contract, as originally reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, will pay McCoy $16 million in cash in his first year with the Bills.

By agreeing to the extension, the Bills will get the short-term benefit of salary cap relief. Rather than having to be dealt McCoy's original cap hit of $10.75 million in 2015, instead the Bills will only be on the hook for $5.6 million on this year's cap, according to OverTheCap.com.

Buffalo acquired the running back during the week in a one-for-one trade that sent linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Eagles. The deal will officially go through once the new league year starts on Tuesday, March 10 at 4 pm.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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Potential Bills target Harris chooses to re-up with Jets

The Buffalo Bills will have to look elsewhere for their third linebacker. According to multiple reports, linebacker David Harris elected to re-sign with the New York Jets rather than testing the free agent market.

Rumored to be among one of Rex Ryan's targets once the free agency period opens on Tuesday, March 10 at 4 pm, Harris instead inked a three-year contract worth a total of $21.5 million. The Bills are in need of another linebacker after the trade for running back LeSean McCoy that surrendered Kiko Alonso to Philadelphia.

Harris, 31, had 123 total tackles in 2014, along with 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He'll be entering his ninth season in the NFL and has only played for the Jets throughout his career.

After the move to trade away Alonso, the Bills still have Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown on the roster.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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Fit For Bills? TE Jordan Cameron

The start of the free agency period in the National Football League is under a week away and teams are likely preparing their pitches for the available players. The Buffalo Bills, already, have been incredibly active in their search to add to the offense, already acquiring running back LeSean McCoy, quarterback Matt Cassel and guard Richie Incognito.

How else might they attack the offense through free agency? Tight end could be next on the agenda, and a player like Jordan Cameron is an intriguing option:

His Background
- In 2011, the Cleveland Browns identified Jordan Cameron as an intriguing, athletic option at tight end that boasted loads of potential. At that point of his football career as just a fourth-round draft pick, his skills weren't refined and he was nothing more than a projection. What he did in two seasons, though, was turn himself into one of the most explosive tight ends in the NFL, and backed it up with a huge season amidst poor quarterback play in 2013. In 14 starts that season, Cameron posted 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns -- and that was dealing with the likes of Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. The problem with Cameron is not what he brings on the field.... it's the vast history the tight end has with concussions. In the past three seasons, Cameron has suffered a concussion on three separate occasions -- with his last one in 2014 having cost him five games on the field. He finished 2014 with only 24 receptions for 424 yards and two touchdowns in 10 total games, but boasted an impressive 17.7 yards per catch.

How He Fits the Bills
- It's very simple for Rex Ryan and Greg Roman and they have stated so publicly: they want to add multiple tight ends to the roster. Cameron would be a dream come true for whoever ends up starting at quarterback for the Bills in the passing game, providing the athleticism and playmaking ability the team has lacked for such a long time. Where Cameron is lacking, is in run blocking. If the Bills are looking for a tight end that has an all-around skill-set, perhaps Cameron won't be their cup of tea. And, with the team likely focusing on the run game as their bread and butter on how to move the football, it potentially builds a case against Cameron. It's hard to ignore the impact as a potential safety blanket for a quarterback, though. He also has the ability to bust a small play into a big one due to mismatches all over the field. As an example, in his first three seasons with the 49ers, the Greg Roman offense had top tight end Vernon Davis averaged 55 catches for 730 yards and 8 touchdowns from 2011 to 2013, which means there is a very big role in this offense to be had by a pass-catching tight end.

Joe B.'s Take
- The Bills have been in search for a player that has Cameron's skill-set for years. In fact, the team loved Cameron back in the 2011 NFL Draft and had designs on using their fourth round selection on him, up until Cleveland ruined their plans. The concussion history is there, and is certainly a risk. However, with what you're getting from a talent perspective, there may not be another tight end available in this free agent class that is as athletically gifted as he is -- and that's including Denver's Julius Thomas. His run blocking is an issue, yes, but when he is on the field defenses always have to be aware of what he's doing. If the Bills have as ferocious an appetite to add a tight end as they've been leading us on to believe, they absolutely should be placing a call to Cameron's representation.

Previous 'Fit For Bills?' Installments:
QB Jake Locker
TE Jermaine Gresham

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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Active Bills trade for QB Matt Cassel

The ink was barely even dry on the stories of the last trade the Buffalo Bills made, and now the franchise has made a move to acquire another piece on offense.

The Bills announced Wednesday that they have agreed to terms to trade for Minnesota quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel and an "undisclosed draft choice" will come to the Bills, in exchange for "undisclosed draft choices" going back to the Vikings.

Cassel played the last two seasons in Minnesota and started a grand total of nine games over that span. In 2013, when he startd six games and appeared in a total of nine, he threw for 1,807 yards, 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions and had a 60.2 completion percentage. Last year, serving as the main backup for Teddy Bridgewater, Cassel started three games and threw for 425 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.

Throughout his career in Minnesota, Kansas City and New England, he has started a total of 71 games, with a career record of 33-38, while throwing for 96 touchdowns to 70 interceptions in all his career appearances. Cassel has one year left on his current contract, and is scheduled to have a cap hit of $4.75 million in 2015.

The move comes less than 24 hours after the Bills acquired running back LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

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In Bills' McCoy-Kiko deal, tie goes to the talent

You've likely been hearing the following statement get louder as each year passes:

"The running back position is being devalued in the National Football League."

By all means, that is true in the way that most teams have operated around the NFL, leading to a lot of movement for ball carriers across the league. They just don't have as big of a market as they once did once they've been in the league for a little while.

Then, the Buffalo Bills shocked the world and traded for the fantasy football darling, LeSean McCoy, in exchange for third-year linebacker Kiko Alonso. McCoy will turn 27 in July, and 28 has been earmarked as the year that sees the most significant decline in production for runners.

So why, then, did the Bills win this trade?

It's simple, really. It's football economics.

Running backs are thought to be a dime a dozen in the NFL, and while true, their dime a dozen brothers on the defensive side of the ball are linebackers. Don't get the message twisted, both these players are very talented ones that were coveted in league circles.

However, when push comes to shove and you have two players that play positions that are almost equally replaceable, the edge is given to the player that possesses the most talent. In this instance, McCoy is the more talented of the two — despite his age.

Alonso is a good player, and he'll fit in well with the Eagles high-flying defensive unit, but the trade was made possible by the depth the Bills have assembled at linebacker in Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown. Even if one of those two players were to suffer an injury, the ability to replenish the position without too much of a drop-off is there.

For the Bills, the talent gap between LeSean McCoy to Fred Jackson is much greater than Alonso to Bradham or Brown, which is why the trade just makes sense from a talent perspective. If you add in the fact that the defense primarily only has two linebackers on the field at any one time, the Bills couldn't get much more incentive to pull the trigger on the deal.

While it's true, the questions on McCoy's mileage in the NFL (going on his seventh season) and how much time is left will be issues, but the short-term benefits are there.

Make no mistake, this is a move for short-term gains. McCoy represents a significant upgrade at the position and with the likely importance placed on running the football, he could become the most important player on the roster in his first year on the job.

If you didn't believe it before with the hiring of Rex Ryan, or with the signing of the maligned Richie Incognito, believe it now: the Bills are going all in on 2015.

Now, if only they can find any ounce of average quarterback play, they can turn postseason dreams into a potential reality.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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Report: Bills pull off blockbuster, trade Kiko Alonso for LeSean McCoy

The Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles have shocked the NFL world.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bills have agreed in principle to acquire running back LeSean 'Shady' McCoy, and in return, give linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Philadelphia Eagles as compensation.

McCoy, 26, comes to the Bills with three years left on his current contract. He'll have a 2015 cap number of $11.95 million, and then subsequent cap hits of $8.85 million in 2016 and $7.85 million in 2017.

Over his six year career with the Eagles, McCoy has rushed for 6,792 yards, 44 touchdowns and a yards per carry average of 4.6. He has also accrued 300 receptions for 2,282 yards and 10 touchdowns to help in the passing game as well.

Out goes Alonso, who was the runner up for defensive rookie of the year honors in 2013. He missed the entirety of the 2014 season due to a torn ACL. In his rookie year, Alonso had 159 total tackles, four interceptions, two sacks and one forced fumble.

The move to acquire McCoy spells the end for C.J. Spiller's tenure in Buffalo, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Spiller told NFL Network shortly after the trade news broke that the Bills called him to thank him for his services.

McCoy will turn 27 in July. According to Schefter, the trade will not be official until the new league year begins on March 10 at 4 pm.

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Fit for Bills? TE Jermaine Gresham

Since the offseason has taken shape, quarterback has been the topic of conversation on the mind of mostly everyone in Buffalo. However, coming in a close second for a position the Bills have admitted that they need to add to is one that has been neglected for years.

It seems the Buffalo Bills are finally going to address the tight end position with more than just a waiver wire pickup, or a fourth-round pick (Shawn Nelson, 2009). While there are some names available that many have grown accustomed to over the past couple of years, where might the Bills strike in free agency?

While not the flashiest add, one player that the Bills could have interest in is former Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham:

His Background
- One of the top tight ends available in his draft class, Jermaine Gresham was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Bengals hoped with his 6-foot-5, 260-pound frame that Gresham could develop into one of the next big things at tight end. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition, but what they did get was an every down player that proved to be indispensable for the team throughout numerous trips into the playoffs. Over his five-year career, Gresham has caught an average of 56 passes for 544.4 yards and just a shade under five touchdowns per season. He never truly took the game over as a pass catcher, but Gresham turned himself into a fierce blocker and an outright weapon in the run game. At 26 years old, the tight end still has years of his prime left in the tank.

How He Fits Buffalo
- He isn't the home run addition at tight end some might be hoping for, but if the Bills are looking for an all-around tight end that adds to the passing game, they can do much worse than the consistent Gresham. His hard-nosed style and appetite for run blocking would be right up the alley of new offensive coordinator Greg Roman and head coach Rex Ryan, who are both looking to establish the run in 2015. The tight end is as tough as they come and doesn't back down to any assignment in front of him.

Joe B.'s Take
- The Bills would likely add more to the position, but Gresham could be a cost-effective option at tight end if they swing and miss on the upper-echelon of free agents like Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron or Charles Clay. Buffalo absolutely should take a swing on one of the top three, simply because they can add an element to the passing attack that doesn't currently exist on their roster. Gresham wouldn't be a big step up in pass-catching, but he is more of an all-around player than Scott Chandler. He would be a suitable Plan B if all else fails.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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Fit for Bills? QB Jake Locker

The Buffalo Bills have one of the most unenviable tasks of the offseason. They must find suitable competition to be the starting quarterback for them in 2015, without a first-round draft pick, in one of the thinnest quarterback classes over the past few years, and with a free agent class that doesn't offer a particularly inspiring option.

Even though all of that is true, the Bills must sign a player to line up under center and serve as direct competition for former first-round pick EJ Manuel.

Who might be some options to fill? Let's take a look at unrestricted free agent Jake Locker:

His Background
- Once upon a time, Jake Locker was all the rage around college football and amongst draftniks. Following a successful junior season, Locker was pegged as the favorite to be the top overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. As the season carried on, his game at Washington was increasingly picked apart and the previous coat of shine from the preseason had been dulled. In the end, Locker ended up being the eighth overall selection in the draft, and the Tennessee Titans' future at quarterback. He couldn't get on the field much in his rookie season, but the shackles were removed in 2012. He started 11 games, with a shoulder injury that kept him out for five games sandwiched in the middle of the season. He came back in 2013 and showed some signs of progress, before succumbing to a hip and knee injury that kept him out for two games. Upon his return, just three weeks later Locker suffered a foot injury that ended his season. In 2014 with a new head coach in Ken Whisenhunt, Locker got the go-ahed to start the season as the top quarterback. He started four of the team's first five games, and then a hand injury forced him to miss the next six games. He made it back to start for an injured Zach Mettenberger in Week 15, but left the game early with a shoulder injury and was placed on Injured Reserve. Over his career, Locker has completed 57.5-percent of his passes for 4,967 yards, 27 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He also has 644 career rushing yards and five touchdowns.

How He Fits Buffalo
- If you look at Locker as just a quarterback rather than one with the proclivity for injuries, his skill-set fits Greg Roman's offense, arguably better than any of the other options. In his time in San Francisco, Roman utilized read-option whether it was with Alex Smith or with Colin Kaepernick, and Jake Locker could be used in the same mold. While his accuracy is less than stellar, he possesses the ability to throw a pretty ball with his incredibly strong arm. Locker's pocket presence and getting out of the pocket properly when pressure is felt is an asset, which could be a characteristic the Bills are looking for after a year of poor offensive line play in 2014.

Joe B.'s Take
- Of the remaining options in free agency, Locker is the only player a front office member should be 'pounding the table' for. Still only 26, the former first-round pick only has 23 starts to his name, and he actually showed signs of improvement in the starts over 2013 and 2014. There are clear examples of games that Locker, quite frankly, just didn't have it (see: Cincinnati in 2014). However, if the Bills are looking for the lesser of the evils, and for the quarterback that could be the biggest hit of those available, it's hard to look anywhere other than with Locker. The injuries are of course an issue, and should be considered for contractual purposes. Also, be prepared, he is not a perfect player, and likely will never be anything but average. However, with where the Bills are in terms of the rest of their roster, average will suffice in a bid for the playoffs.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

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Bills decide against using franchise tag

The Jairus Byrd drama from two years ago will not be duplicated at One Bills Drive. The National Football League deadline for teams to use the franchise and transition tags on impending unrestricted free agents has passed, and the Buffalo Bills declined to use either option.

Bills GM Doug Whaley confirmed the decision with a very brief statement:

"We have chosen not to use the franchise or transition tags this year."

Of the players set to hit the open market on March 10, the only name that might have garnered some consideration for the franchise tag was defensive end Jerry Hughes. Hughes, 26, is coming off back-to-back seasons that he amassed 10 sacks and is the highest-ticket unrestricted free agent from the Bills roster in 2014.

If the Bills would have applied the franchise tag to Hughes, they would have owed him a fully guaranteed $14.813 million for 2015 if the two sides could not strike a longterm agreement. Buffalo originally acquired the defensive end in a one-for-one trade (for Kelvin Sheppard) with the Indianapolis Colts in the 2013 offseason.

In addition to Hughes, the other notable free agents coming from the Bills roster are running back C.J. Spiller and safety Da'Norris Searcy. Teams can begin to contact the representation of unrestricted free agents starting on March 7, leading to the beginning of the free agency on March 10 at 4 pm when players can start to officially sign with other teams.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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