Inside The Bills

Taylor: “I want to be the long term guy”

Posted by Chris Brown on January 28, 2016 – 1:17 pm

His comment came as no surprise, but in an interview at the Pro Bowl with Around the NFL Wednesday night, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor said he’d love to be the long term answer for Buffalo at the most important position.

Of course I want to be the long-term guy,” Taylor said. “I love playing for the organization, I love playing for the coaches, I love being around the guys. Like I said, I want to be the long-term guy for them. Ultimately that’s up to them. I know I’m under contract for another year, but right now I’m out here just taking it all in.”

Taylor will be participating in Sunday’s Pro Bowl, as he’ll be replacing Cam Newton, who advanced with the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl 50.

Bills GM Doug Whaley said on the John Murphy Show this week that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of signing Taylor to a long-term contract extension before next season.

“Since we’ve got him under contract, he’s on the list, but a little way down because we want to get the guys who are unrestricted done first,” said Whaley when asked if getting a long term deal done with Taylor is on their priority list. “But it’s one of those things where I will say that if we come up with a deal that works for both parties we wouldn’t be opposed to doing it.”

Taylor has one year remaining on his current contract with Buffalo.


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Whaley: Aaron, Graham to return as safety combo

Posted by Chris Brown on January 28, 2016 – 12:50 pm

The Bills finished the 2015 season not completely certain that Aaron Williams would be able to continue his playing career after he suffered a neck injury that cost him most of the 2015 season. But Bills GM Doug Whaley in an appearance on the John Murphy Show confirmed that Williams is good to go for the 2016 season.

“We’re leaning on the medical staff and we were assured by them that if we were in the playoff hunt (this past season) that Aaron would’ve been cleared to play,” said Whaley. “Medically he’s cleared and ready to go. Again those neck things are always tricky and we’d have to see once he gets out there and starts playing how he’s feeling. We do need some depth there, but I think this year another year of Corey Graham playing back there moving from corner to safety now he’s opening his eyes up to see the whole field so another year of learning that will help us too.”


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Henderson illness leaves RT spot in flux

Posted by Chris Brown on January 28, 2016 – 11:50 am

The Bills drafted a pair of offensive tackles in the 2014 NFL draft hoping to address a shortage of talent at the position. The last two seasons Seantrel Henderson had manned the starting role at right tackle for Buffalo. Diagnosed with an undisclosed medical condition midway through the 2015 season, it’s unclear whether Henderson can effectively continue as Buffalo’s starter moving forward. It’s put Buffalo’s front office in the position of being proactive in case Henderson can’t manage his illness and be readily available each and every Sunday.

The Bills have Cyrus Kouandjio on the roster and Jordan Mills, who stepped in for Henderson for the last five games at right tackle, is a restricted free agent. Bills GM Doug Whaley in an appearance on the John Murphy Show, outlined their approach to the team’s right tackle position.

“We’ll have Jordan Mills who is a restricted free agent, and so we can tender him and have him,” said Whaley. “Between him and Kouandjio you’ll have two guys battling there. Then hopefully we’ll see what happens with the medical issue for Henderson, but we’re crossing our fingers and hoping he can come back to full strength and then we’ll have three and have some depth if he comes back.”

It’s also possible that the Bills draft an offensive tackle to further fortify the team’s depth in the event that Henderson can’t overcome his medical condition.


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Senior Bowl director on QB crop on hand

Posted by Chris Brown on January 28, 2016 – 9:09 am

Senior Bowl director and former NFL GM Phil Savage brought in a larger quarterback contingent than normal for the North and South rosters at the Senior Bowl this week. In his opinion the class is deep, but with a variety of skill sets. Here’s Savage’s take on the eight signal callers in Mobile.

“We took eight quarterbacks this year which is something that’s never been done here before,” said Savage. “Part of the reason is we felt like there’s such a disparity between college and pro football and there’s so many differences at that position, we felt like this is such a deep class, that why not instead of six, let’s bring eight.

“I thought the clubs would really want to be in front of the players, find out what they know, how much did they run at the line of scrimmage, how much freedom did they have within their scheme. And not only evaluate them on the field, but off the field, so here we are. This year, we could have gone 10,11,12 deep in terms of trying to determine who would be here in Mobile.”

Bills GM Doug Whaley believes the senior class offers a deep group of quarterbacks that show the potential to develop, but few who are elite and ready to be impact players right away.


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Where the 2016 draft class is deepest

Posted by Chris Brown on January 27, 2016 – 2:53 pm

There will be a number of opinions on this year’s draft class between now and the end of April. Here’s where Buffalo’s chief personnel men believe the draft is deepest.

“Overall it’s deep on the defensive line,” said GM Doug Whaley. “It’s really deep on the defensive line. It’s deep at quarterback so we’re excited about that. Also at receiver, it’s not top heavy at receiver, but it’s deep there. So I think it’s going to be a really excellent draft for some of the areas where we could use some backups and help.”

At the Senior Bowl specifically, Bills Director of College Scouting Kelvin Fisher also likes the D-line and QB.

“I would say D-line, quarterback-this is probably best group of quarterbacks that has been at the Senior Bowl since I’ve been here,” Fisher said. “But the d-line is pretty deep and the offensive line is pretty deep.”

“I like this roster,” said Bills Director of Player Personnel Jim Monos. “It starts off with some good quarterbacks. Some good D-linemen, good O-linemen, some playmakers. A couple of linebackers are intriguing so I think it’s a good class.”


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If No. 2 WR can’t be added, Bills to go with mix

Posted by Chris Brown on January 27, 2016 – 9:04 am

For the Bills adding a true number two wideout opposite Sammy Watkins that has size and commands attention from opposing defenses would be ideal, but in a draft year where talent at receiver is good, but size isn’t the Bills may have to choose a different approach in addressing that role.

Bills GM Doug Whaley, who will appear on the John Murphy Show tonight from Mobile, commented on how they would fill the No. 2 WR role if a single player can’t be acquired to step into it.

“We’d love to (have a bona fide No. 2 receiver), but we think with the mix of guys we have we can generate a number two receiver, between (Marquise) Goodwin, (Robert) Woods, (Greg) Salas who we signed. Leonard Hankerson if we can get him back and then Greg Little that we signed. So we’ve got a mix of guys who might not be a bona fide number two, but we can use those guys in different roles and have a complementary number two just by mixing some guys in.”

Buffalo also signed Jarrett Boykin this month to try to improve the size at the position.


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Dialogue to begin with Bills free agents

Posted by Chris Brown on January 27, 2016 – 8:47 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley and Buffalo’s player personnel and college scouting staffs will be at the Senior Bowl in Mobile all week, but the organization will be getting started on preliminary talks with their upcoming free agents.

“Last week we had the year in review with the coaches and going over the roster,” said Whaley. “(Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim Overdorf is going to reach out and starting touching base with all the free agents. Not just the restricted free agents, but the unrestricted guys as well and touch base with their representatives and get the ball rolling.”

Among the top priorities are Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito, who are both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. As is typically the case, the club just wants to reach a fair and equitable deal for both sides, especially with Glenn and Incognito knowing how important it is to get both back in the fold for 2016 and beyond.

Whaley was asked specifically about how quickly a deal could get done for Incognito, who is headed to the Pro Bowl this weekend.

“We’re always going to try to get a deal where both parties feel like they won and are happy,” said Whaley. “We want Richie and his representatives to walk away from a deal that we have and we’re both smiling and saying, ‘It was fair.’ That’s how we look and attack every negotiation.”

Buffalo’s restricted free agents are all relatively important names moving forward as well. How the Bills will pick and choose whom to tender from the list below will be interesting.

Bills RFAs
DT Corbin Bryant
DT Stefan Charles
TE MarQueis Gray
WR Chris Hogan
OT Jordan Mills
S Bacarri Rambo


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Talent level solid at this year’s Senior Bowl

Posted by Chris Brown on January 26, 2016 – 4:06 pm

The Senior Bowl practices are underway in Mobile and the level of talent on hand is impressive. Bills GM Doug Whaley believes the Senior Bowl just gets better and better with each passing year, despite the fact that the number of underclassmen declaring for the draft increases almost annually.

“I think it’s good,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com of the Senior Bowl talent. “There’s definitely depth here we didn’t have last year.  We’re excited about the guys we’re going to be able to see, not only on offense but on defense. It’s cyclical. Sometimes you’ll have some years where it’s top heavy and sometimes you’ll have some years where it’s depth here. I think there’s a lot of depth here at the Senior Bowl this year.”

Whaley said areas of depth in this year’s draft class include defensive line, quarterback and receiver.


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Whaley: Incognito reclaimed his name

Posted by Chris Brown on January 26, 2016 – 3:06 pm

Prior to signing with the Buffalo Bills, Richie Incognito was a former Pro Bowl guard who saw his contract terminated by his team (Miami) in the wake of a bullying scandal. Two years later, Incognito successfully reclaimed his status as a Pro Bowl caliber player and proved to be a model teammate and leader in Buffalo’s locker room.

Bills GM Doug Whaley told Buffalobills.com that seeing Incognito headed back to the Pro Bowl speaks volumes about how far the veteran lineman has come.

“That’s a testament to him. He put a lot of work into reclaiming his name, not only on the field but off the field,” said Whaley. “I tip my cap to him and a lot of due goes to him. When we talked to him, not only was he remorseful for what he did, but he had a plan in place to never go down that road again in his life. I’m really impressed with this guy.”

Whaley also said that the front office will get the ball rolling on preliminary discussions about a new contract for Incognito, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in March.


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A passing game rendezvous

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2016 – 9:32 am

At the close of the 2015 season Bills QB Tyrod Taylor and WR Sammy Watkins both gave strong indication that there would be plans for some of the men in Buffalo’s passing game to get together on their own in the offseason to work on their on field chemistry. Some more details on that came to light Friday.

Bills GM Doug Whaley, appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday spoke to Taylor and found out where and who would be working together in the near future.

“I’ve talked to Tyrod and he, Sammy and Charles Clay are going to be in Florida working out together,” said Whaley.

As Whaley sees it that will only benefit the efforts to develop better overall consistency within the framework of Buffalo’s offense.

“All of a sudden next thing you know when we’re in a two minute drill there may not even be any verbal communication,” Whaley said. “There might just be some hand signs or some head nods where everybody is on the same page and that’s where you start to see an offense or even a defense make strides and take off.”

Whaley acknowledged that being able to keep offensive coordinator Greg Roman on staff will also do wonders for the offense as they’ll all be able to progress together.

“Just like any relationship the longer you’re together the closer you’re going to get and it gets to the point where Tyrod will anticipate what G-Ro is thinking and vice versa,” said Whaley.


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Bills open to a Harvin return

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2016 – 9:28 am

Percy Harvin’s first year with the Bills did not go how anyone had planned. A persistent hip injury compromised his weekly availability as the receiver appeared in just five games in 2015. He also has an automatic opt-out clause in his contract, which will make him a free agent against this offseason. Still, Buffalo’s front office remains interested in returning him to their receiving corps in 2016.

Bills GM Doug Whaley, appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Friday, indicated that the club would like to bring Harvin back once he’s got a clean bill of health.

“Absolutely. No doubt about it,” said Whaley. “Obviously the first thing for Percy is he’s got to get completely healthy. Once he’s healthy we’ll reach out to his guy and explain that we’d like to have him back. I think when he was on the field people took notice and he helped us when Sammy was out. So we would love to have him back.”

Knowing Buffalo’s tight cap situation, the Bills would probably only re-sign Harvin to a cost-conscious type contract.


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Whaley: Our cap situation is pretty restrictive

Posted by Chris Brown on January 22, 2016 – 9:18 am

Senior Bowl week is currently on the front burner for the Bills personnel department, but prior to leaving for Mobile, Alabama, the front office had a personnel meeting to discuss their offseason priorities concerning their current roster with their own free agents the focus. Naturally Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn remain at the top of the list with both set to become unrestricted free agents in less than two months. But Buffalo’s salary cap situation has to be rectified first.

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, GM Doug Whaley outlined how at the outset heading into the new league year in March, the Bills have some financial maneuvers to make as they are currently over the projected salary cap for 2016.

“Right now it’s pretty restrictive. I believe we’re over the cap,” said Whaley. “So (Senior VP of Football Administration) Jim Overdorf is going to be working really hard and work his magic. We have confidence that we’ll be able to put our best foot forward and try to get this done (with Incognito and Glenn). When you have the number one rated rushing offense in the league you want to try to keep that as stable as possible. If we can get those five guys back and maintain the continuity up front that’s not only going to keep our running game strong, but it’ll help our quarterback improve as well.”

The 2016 salary cap is projected to be somewhere between $150 and $156 million. It was $143 million and change last season after making a $10M jump in one calendar year thanks to some new large television contracts the league had brokered. Per OverTheCap.com, Buffalo currently sits at almost $158M in contract commitments that count toward the cap.

Look for the Bills to make the necessary maneuvers to put themselves in a position to re-sign the left side of their offensive line and make a few other moves they deem essential to take the next step as a team in the offseason.


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Whaley on biggest strides Taylor made

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2016 – 2:30 pm

He was a first-year starter in a new offensive system with 10 new teammates around him and he’d have to split reps three ways until the start of the regular season with two other quarterbacks. And while those factors may have slowed the progress of Tyrod Taylor it didn’t keep him from making significant strides in his game.

Bills GM Doug Whaley in a sitdown interview with Buffalobills.com outlined where he felt his quarterback made the most notable advances with his performance from start number one to start number 14 at the end of the season.

“I think the biggest strides were made with him in terms of being more comfortable in the pocket, command in the huddle and command with the offense in general,” said Whaley of Taylor. “In the first game you saw some very exciting things, but it was more out of just feel. He was like, ‘Okay let me be a football player. I’m not really that comfortable, but I think I can do this.’ To now where he was like, ‘I know what I’m doing. Let me do this. If it’s not there I know what my options are after that.’ So continued maturation with him as a quarterback. We’re excited about that. I know he’s excited about that and we think he’s just scratching the surface.”


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Whaley: Pegulas value continuity

Posted by Chris Brown on January 13, 2016 – 4:35 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley is less than a week removed from signing his contract extension with the Bills, but in his one-on-one interview with Buffalobills.com he shed some light on the organization’s end of season meetings with ownership, President Russ Brandon and head coach Rex Ryan.

“We discussed how it was a disappointing season no doubt,” Whaley said. “Our ultimate goal is to win a championship. Now to win a championship you do have to get to the playoffs. The other thing that the Pegulas stressed to us, Rex, myself and Russ is to do that consistently you’ve got to have some continuity. And through their actions they’re proven that they want to have that continuity.”

Whaley said he remains in frequent contact, primarily with owner and CEO Terry Pegula about the day-to-day business of the team.

“Any time we make any type of roster move I’m on the phone with Terry right off the bat to keep them up to date on anything we do,” Whaley said. “Even if it’s an injury replacement on the practice squad. So I’m in constant communication with them on anything that impacts the roster. During the year we’ll have a Monday morning call with myself, the Pegulas, Russ (Brandon) and Rex (Ryan) and we’ll go over everything that went into the game plan before, during and after and results that came out of the game, especially injuries. We talk once or twice a week and during the season a lot more. In the offseason at least once or twice a week for sure.”

As for how his relationship with head coach Rex Ryan has grown and developed, Whaley believes their football philosophies run parallel and that they’re committed to the same end game.

“The one major reason I think we get along so well is we believe this whole thing we’re trying to do, even with the Pegulas and Russ Brandon, it’s not about us and individual acclaim and recognition, it’s about winning rings,” Whaley said. “When you have somebody that you can work with and you have the same goal and it doesn’t matter who gets the recognition that’s where the ease of our relationship comes in and I only think it’s going to get stronger.”


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Whaley on free agency: We won’t be busy

Posted by Chris Brown on January 5, 2016 – 10:21 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley gave strong indication that Buffalo’s foray into free agency to add to the roster won’t be nearly as headline grabbing as last year when they signed Tyrod Taylor, Richie Incognito, Jerome Felton, Percy Harvin and signed Charles Clay to an offer sheet. In fact Buffalo’s personnel boss said the local media might as well take off for the first week of free agency in March.

“Right now with where we are the focus on the offseason will probably be retaining most of everything we have (that’s not under contract),” said Whaley. “We have some guys coming up that we think will be core to what we need to go forward. So that will be the focus. Our free agency is going to be signing our own guys and again that’s a compliment to our scouting staff. We’ve drafted well enough where these guys are coming up and we want to retain them.”

Whaley confirmed that two of their top priorities to re-sign are Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito.


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Whaley on 2016 QB class

Posted by Chris Brown on January 4, 2016 – 9:07 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley in a radio interview recently was asked to assess the 2016 NFL draft class. Whaley believes there will be a lot of options, just not too many at the top of the draft.

Whaley appeared on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 last week and believes most of the value for quarterbacks will be in the middle rounds.

“Right now I would say that just with the seniors it’s not particularly top heavy, but it is deep,” said Whaley. “There are a lot of quarterbacks that you could get in rounds two through six that have a chance to grow and progress into a solid number two and possibly a number one with some time and seasoning.”

The top quarterback prospects according to many of the draftniks are Cal’s Jared Goff, Memphis’ Paxton Lynch and Michigan State’s Connor Cook.

 


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Whaley: Defense will be a focus in offseason

Posted by Chris Brown on December 29, 2015 – 11:56 am

Bills GM Doug Whaley couldn’t deny that the defense did take a step back this season in its first season under head coach Rex Ryan. Whaley acknowledged that improving the defensive side of the ball will be a focus this coming offseason, but he’s confident that Ryan, his defensive staff and the personnel will be able to improve the performance of the defense in 2016.

“Defensively we did take a step back,” Whaley said in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “We expected there to be a transition, but we didn’t expect there would be a drop off based on our history of our defense and Rex’s history of coaching defense we didn’t expect a drop off like that. So we’ll make a concerted effort to fix in the offseason just like last year. We made a concerted effort to make the offense better and we accomplished that goal.”

When asked why the defense took a step back this season, Whaley pointed to a few key things.

“There was a lack of consistency there and that goes along with changing parts due to injuries and getting adapted to the scheme,” he said. “I think it was a combination of Rex trying to tweak a little bit from what he normally does to fit our personnel and our personnel trying to fit what they used to do to what Rex does. So that contributes to the lack of consistency and again the injuries with Aaron Williams, Kyle Williams and Nigel Bradham. So you had young guys in there that are trying to adapt to this as well.

“At times you saw we showed we can be a pretty good defense, but the lack of consistency really killed us. That will be a major emphasis in the offseason is to be as consistent as possible.”

Whaley understands the fan frustration with the disappointing performance of the defense this season, but he’s resolute in his belief that it will be better in 2016 for a host of reasons.

“If you look at it in totality you have a head coach that’s been a defensive coordinator or a head coach for 11-plus years and this is only the second time his defense is not ranked in the top 10 and the other time he was 11th,” said Whaley. “So if you look at it analytically or look at the percentages he’s not going to be a bad coach. He’s going to improve that defense. So we have the basis to take a step forward. If you take that 16 years off of it and look at a first-year coach, first year ownership and first year quarterback I think we’ve got something to build on.

“I think it’s just a combination of those guys getting more comfortable with the scheme that is really complicated and bringing in some parts that fit a little better.”


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Whaley: It’s all good with Rex & ownership

Posted by Chris Brown on December 29, 2015 – 11:15 am

Despite reports to the contrary last week, Bills GM Doug Whaley gave firm indication that he is on solid footing with head coach Rex Ryan and has the faith of owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Tuesday, Whaley said the reports that were out there last week about friction with Ryan and an uncertain future with ownership were very misguided.

“Ownership has been great. My relationship with Rex Ryan is something that I cherish,” Whaley said. “I wake up every day happy to come in and work with him. My future, ownership doesn’t have to tell me anything. I’ve always attacked my job with the mindset of let me do my job not to lose it, but to keep it and keep getting better. So until the ownership tells me I’m here for the long haul and get this team where we need to go.”

Later in the interview Whaley praised the approach of the Pegulas in terms of how they facilitate the job he has to do as general manager.

“Their thoughts are turning to what do we need to get better this week? And then after this week what do we need to get better from the top down going forward,” Whaley said of the Pegulas. “So they’re always looking at what they can do to help us get better and what they need to do as owners to get better. That’s their philosophy and outlook they’ve conveyed to us every time we’ve met. When your ownership comes to you and asks what else they can do to help us do your job better, that’s a perfect scenario and the closest thing you can get to utopia in this league.”


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Ryan refutes rift report, backs Whaley 100%

Posted by Chris Brown on December 22, 2015 – 9:23 am

The report about a rift between Bills GM Doug Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan and members of his staff was something that Ryan refuted as “dead wrong” when asked about it after Sunday’s game. He took it a step further in his weekly radio appearance on Bills flagship station.

Appearing on WGR Sportsradio 550 Monday afternoon, Ryan reiterated that the report is inaccurate and completely erroneous as he stated what kind of relationship he and his general manager have.

“I think it’s ludicrous. I truly do,” said Ryan of the reports. “Doug and I are on the same page with everything. The fact that we haven’t had the season we wanted, maybe that’s fueling some of those reports. They’re ridiculous. Maybe somebody has a different agenda.

“I know the agenda that I have and that Whaley has and that’s all about winning. Bringing the type of team that this community can be proud of and that hasn’t wavered one bit. I think if you look at since I’ve been here with Whaley together, look at the players he added. The draft went about as good as you can get.

“You have Ronald Darby who is going to be a star in this league. John Miller our third-round pick and starting every game he was healthy for. Karlos Williams, all he does is tie an NFL record for most touchdowns in consecutive games, who is certainly going to be a player. You have O’Leary who is just starting to show what he can do. Tony Steward unfortunately got hurt, but you look at that draft, that was an outstanding draft.

“The free agents we got, I think the trade for LeSean McCoy, you’d be hard pressed to say that never worked out for us. That was a great trade for us. The acquisition of Tyrod Taylor was a smash. That’s a grand slam hit, so the job he’s done as a personnel guy has been absolutely tremendous since I’ve been here. So to me I know we’ve had several talks and this is the guy that I want with me to be a general manager I can promise you that.”

Ryan didn’t even mention the signing of Richie Incognito, who has a chance to go to the Pro Bowl.


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Whaley: Re-signing Glenn, Incognito will be priorities

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2015 – 4:10 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley made his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Tuesday and outlined a number of topics. From Tyrod Taylor’s encouraging progress, to his thoughts on the results of the new extra point distance rule. He also addressed the team’s plans for a couple of their impending free agents.

Starting left tackle Cordy Glenn and starting left guard Richie Incognito are both scheduled to be free agents come next March, but Whaley said the Bills have made it clear to the agents for both players that re-signing them this offseason is a major priority.

“I’ve talked to both of those guys and talked to their representation that after this season we’ll put on a full force effort to try to get those guys under contract,” said Whaley. “We like to tell those guys during the season that we want them to be strictly focused on football and after the season we’ll worry about that business part.”

Incognito has had a season that should garner Pro Bowl consideration. Head coach Rex Ryan said he doesn’t think there’s another guard in the league that has played as consistently as Incognito in his first year with the Bills. Keeping the left side of the offensive line intact is seen as a critical thing on the team’s offseason to-do list.

“We look at it like if we can keep that line together that’s a part of the football team we can hang our hat on,” said Whaley. “They’ve been playing extremely well and it’s just their first year together. Imagine how good they can be in their second year  and if we can keep them three years that’s when you have the consistency and cohesiveness up front that’s a big part of coach Ryan’s philosophy, which is that it starts up front on both sides of the ball.”


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