Inside The Bills

EJ & Cassel have crossed paths before

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2015 – 3:30 pm

Even though there’s a seven-year age difference the paths of quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel crossed prior to the two signal callers becoming teammates in Buffalo.

The two first met at the Elite 11 quarterback camp in California back in 2011.

“I was one of the counselors there and EJ was there as one of the highly recruited guys at Florida State,” said Cassel. “He impressed me then and continues to impress me. He’s got great maturity. He works hard and studies. So I think the ceiling is super high for him.”

“He was one of the NFL guys who came and talked to us, but we’ve been good. We actually had the same flight out to California once we got our little break (recently),” said Manuel. “We were able to talk and have lunch in between flights and stuff. He’s a good guy. Obviously we’re competing and stuff, but he’s still a great guy.”

As a 10-year vet, Cassel knows while he’s part of a competition he also is here to help Manuel along in his development as a quarterback in the NFL.

“You go out and you compete when you’re on this field and do the best you can do and go out and win the job,” Cassel said. “At the same time when you’re in the locker room and someone has a question and he’s a teammate you’re going to help him out because that’s how I was raised. When I went into New England Tom (Brady) didn’t have to help me at all, but he was a great mentor to me and helped me along the way. And I think it’s my duty now with some of the young guys to do the same thing as I move on in my career.”


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Fan Friday 4-17

Posted by Chris Brown on April 17, 2015 – 12:03 pm

The second week of the voluntary offseason conditioning program is in the books. Veteran voluntary minicamp is a couple of weeks away. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Let us talk hypothetically.  TE-OL-LB are obvious needs.  But, should (UCLA QB Brett) Hundley still be on the board for the Bills in round 2, what do you think?

Jim (Skaneateles)

CB: I think GM Doug Whaley will keep all options open in round two knowing he can truly take the best player on the board with few holes on the roster. That being said beyond the first two quarterbacks (Winston, Mariota) I get the feeling that the general consensus around the league is none of the remaining quarterbacks are at a point in their development where they can help right away.

I don’t know for a Bills team trying to win right now that Hundley is a pick worth making in round two. I think they’d rather have a player that can step in and help as a rookie in the event of an injury or push an incumbent starter for the starting role at their respective position.

Naturally we have to see what is left on the board at pick 50, and that’s obviously very hard to predict. I think there will be enough quality talent at Buffalo’s need positions that you listed to convince them to go in that direction more than QB.

 

2 – Chris,

After reading Collision Low Crossers, the book about the 2011 Jets, it seems like Rex values a shutdown corner to take away part of the field, then blitz.

I assume Gilmore is close to being that type of player. Do you think McKelvin can hold up? What players off radar could come in and make plays on the defense where he likes to give all the players playing time (i.e. Robey, Cockrell, Johnson, Meeks, Charles). How do the reserves fit into his defense and which one you see making a big jump in 2015?

CB: First, yes I think McKelvin can hold up as a press corner. He’s coming off the two-best seasons in his career under secondary coach Donnie Henderson. Furthermore Ryan believes he has three capable outside press corners with Corey Graham being the third.

In terms of a reserve player on defense who could make a jump I believe Duke Williams is a prime candidate to start in the safety role vacated by Da’Norris Searcy. He got a good deal of playing time there last season, is a ferocious hitter and has a nose for the ball. The other players you mentioned are only going to take steps forward as well, which speaks well for the depth on defense.

 

3 – Chris,

I am not convinced Matt Cassel is the answer at QB we’ve been waiting for all these years. Will the Bills go after Colin Kaepernick? And if not, why not? He would make sense as a solid franchise QB with a winning track record who fits with a run first offense. I see him as a perfect fit.

Cordially,
Bradley Kaye

CB: While I don’t deny that Kaepernick had success in Greg Roman’s offense in San Francisco, to acquire him he has to be available. With all of the talent that the 49ers have lost this offseason (Crabtree, Gore, S. Johnson, Iupati, Culliver, Skuta, Borland, Willis) I cannot see them parting with the player they handed franchise quarterback money.

 

4 – Chris,

With the team spending lots of money for the 2015, wondering how it will play out in 2016 when they have other players to lock up. Dareus will command a huge contract. Gilmore will need his option picked up. Cordy Glenn and Nigel Bradham is set to be a free agent as well. These are core guys they like how is it possible to keep them? Next year is big for future free agents. Are they spending too much money now they may have to let one of those guys walk next year? As of now the Bills aren’t done spending and could add more.

Josh P.
CB: I think your concern is a valid one. They’ve already picked up the option on Stephon Gilmore, per Doug Whaley’s comments at the owners’ meetings, so that buys them some time with him. They are interested in extending Nigel Bradham and it would not surprise me if Glenn were on the list as well. Right now Marcell Dareus is the primary focus regarding an extension. After seeing the money that Ndamukong Suh got in Miami, I think we all know that it’s going to be a complicated deal to broker.

Knowing the money involved with be large, it puts a hold on the other players who are in line for extensions because in all likelihood the Bills will need to get creative to make Dareus’ extension work. That deal will undoubtedly have an impact on how and what they can offer to their other young core players.

The good news is that the salary cap continues to go up and up and up. So more room will be created just with the dawn of a new calendar year.

 

5 – Chris,

What positions do you expect the Bills to target? With RB out of the way, do you see tight end as logical choice? Given they are trying to win this year it would make sense to draft someone to plug n’ play to start. The Bills could use depth on defense but it is more likely they will target a guard or tight end? Or where do you seem them going elsewhere with #50?

Sean R.

CB: I think the offensive line is a distinct possibility at 50, but not knowing what will still be on the board makes it difficult to pin down. I think guard or tackle are possibilities there. If the right tight end prospect is there in round two I don’t think you can rule it out, but Buffalo has their starter in Charles Clay. Now if they plan to have two tight ends on the field at the same time, which in Greg Roman’s offense is likely a good amount of the time, they might look to find one on day two (rounds 2 & 3).

I see LB depth being acquired later in the draft.

 


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Cassel: Talent here better than KC in 2010

Posted by Chris Brown on April 14, 2015 – 1:09 pm

Matt Cassel’s career year in the NFL as a quarterback came in 2010 while quarterbacking the Kansas City Chiefs. He went 10-5 as a starter, the Chiefs won the AFC West and went to the playoffs. Meanwhile Cassel threw 27 touchdowns against just seven interceptions and went to the Pro Bowl. But looking up and down Buffalo’s current roster, he sees more talent on his current team than he did on his old Chiefs squad.

Appearing on the Howard Simon show Tuesday morning, Cassel believes Buffalo has some of the best skill position talent in the league.

“The talent level of what we have here overall is much higher than what we had in Kansas City back in 2010,” Cassel said. “We had a steady running game. Dwayne Bowe had a fantastic year. He had like 18 touchdown catches and we had a strong defense and the combination of that always works together. We’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle here to be a successful football team. You look at an outstanding defense, a great special teams and you add our offense with it… all three have to complement each other, but at the same time our offense has the best skill players in all the league in my opinion.”

Jamaal Charles was on the roster and was second in rushing with Thomas Jones as his backup, along with Bowe, so there was a lot of talent at the skill positions. So for Cassel to believe the talent here already is superior is saying a lot.


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Bills QBs impressed in classroom

Posted by Chris Brown on April 13, 2015 – 11:29 am

Last week was first week of the voluntary offseason conditioning program, which features strength and conditioning training and classroom work as the new coaching staff works with the players to install the new offensive and defensive systems. Buffalo’s quarterbacks were all in attendance last week and made a good first impression on offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

In an interview on ESPN’s Inside the Huddle with John Clayton, Roman gave indication of how prepared his signal callers were for the first week of classroom work.

“After just a week of working with these guys I was very happy to find out how dialed in these guys are in their preparation, all four of them really. I couldn’t be more happy from that standpoint,” Roman said. “When we get out on the field we’ll roll the balls out and see what transpires. We’ll let those guys compete and I think we’ll have a great competition at the position. Really, Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel, Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Tuel all impressed me in the meetings.”


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QB Cassel on the new parts blending

Posted by Chris Brown on April 8, 2015 – 3:56 pm

Bills QB Matt Cassel was one of the many veteran players participating in the voluntary offseason conditioning program this week. He’s also one of the many new parts on the offensive side of the ball. Having been a new face in a new place before Cassel outlined how he expects the chemistry to develop with the new players on his side of the ball.

“I think you start to build a foundation,” he said. “You build that rapport, you build those relationships and you start to understand what guys do well and what I do well.  As you get closer to the season you start to refine that and get better as you go.  But I think you take huge steps and make huge strides in OTAs and minicamps of doing that.”

Cassel is seen as one of the top two competitors for the starting quarterback job with EJ Manuel.

 


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Rex: QB competition is open

Posted by Chris Brown on March 20, 2015 – 4:00 pm

The Bills have added a pair of quarterbacks over the past few weeks in Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor. When asked where the quarterback position now stands with offseason workouts on the horizon, head coach Rex Ryan said the competition is open.

In an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Ryan explained where things stand at QB for his squad.

“It’s going to be open. It’s a competition and whoever earns the job will be the guy that’s out there,” he said. “We have some talented guys and we’ll see what happens. You bring in a veteran like Matt Cassel. He’s done some pretty good things in this league. He’s got that veteran presence about him. With EJ back there just going into his third year I really believe EJ is going to improve with his fundamentals having (quarterbacks coach) David Lee here. I love the fact that he’s a gym rat and he’s smart. With our offense being multiple we’ll be able to get out of bad plays, so the mental part of it all of the quarterbacks we have should be able to handle that.

“With Taylor that’s going to be a young man, he’s probably the fastest quarterback in the league. He’s explosive running the zone reads, and we’ll see where he’s at. Then Tuel. We’ve got guys there to work with. That’ll be the important thing. There will be competition, but a person has to earn the job. It hasn’t been handed to somebody.”

A lot of outside observers assumed that Cassel would be handed the job, but that’s not how Ryan is running things.

With four quarterbacks on the roster, most think it will be hard for Ryan and his offensive staff to not at least whittle the competition down to just a pair of quarterbacks going into training camp knowing there just aren’t enough reps to go around and get an accurate assessment of each QB.

Ryan however, intends to run practices a bit different than Bills fans have seen in the past with two offensive units and two defensive units going at the same time on two different fields at St. John Fisher.

“When we get to training camp we’ll do a lot of things on two fields,” Ryan said. “It won’t just be the offense going and the defense going, we’re going to be working on two fields. That’s how you develop young quarterbacks. We’re blessed to have guys on our staff who can really develop quarterbacks.  Greg Roman, Chris Palmer and this is how they did it. You switch whoever is running with the twos on one field and then the ones are on another field. That’s how you get better. We’re going to have that.

“We have some young quarterbacks and we want to make sure that everybody gets the right amount of reps. We’ll have the exact same practice that we have on field one as field two so everybody gets the same reps. You just basically double them up.”


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Reed weighs in on Bills QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on March 17, 2015 – 12:03 pm

andre-salute-cp
Bills Hall of Famer Andre Reed appeared as a guest on NFL Network’s NFL AM show Tuesday. He was asked to weigh in on Buffalo’s quarterback situation. Unlike most he’s not assuming that recent acquisition Matt Cassel will be the starting QB come September.

“There’s going to be a quarterback competition,” Reed said. “They’ve got Matt Cassel now and they brought Tyrod Taylor in from the Ravens. There’s going to be three guys competing and Rex won’t make a decision until probably the first game.

“I think EJ (Manuel) is going to get another chance and another crack at this. I’d like to see him do well. He’s a good kid. He has all the tools to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. I think the guys are behind him. He just has to have the right mindset going into camp of not only getting better, but being the leader that this team needs on offense.”


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Cassel confident he’ll be ready for OTAs

Posted by Chris Brown on March 11, 2015 – 5:26 pm

After winning the starting QB job in Minnesota last year in a competition with Teddy Bridgewater, Bills QB Matt Cassel’s tenure as the Vikings number one quarterback lasted all of three games. Cassel suffered a severe foot injury that required surgery and was put on injured reserve. At this point however, Cassel expects to be ready to participate fully when offseason practices begin.

In a one-on-one interview with Buffalobills.com, Cassel gave indication that his foot would be good to go.

“I believe so. The foot feels great right now,” said Cassel. “Everything has been going well with all my rehab up to this point and it was a severe foot injury at that point. I’m at about 22 weeks removed from the injury so I feel great. I’m doing exercises. I’ve been dropping back and throwing and everything else, and running so I feel good to go.”

Cassel sustained fractured bones in his foot back in Week 3 of the 2014 season. He had no ligament damage, but needed surgery to re-assemble the bones with doctors using wires to do so.


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Felton’s scouting report on Cassel

Posted by Chris Brown on March 11, 2015 – 2:34 pm

Last year Bills new FB Jerome Felton was a teammate of Matt Cassel in Minnesota. Felton watched how Cassel won the starting quarterback job in a competition with rookie first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater. A Week 3 foot injury cost Cassel the rest of the 2014 season, but his approach to the game and his success in landing the starting job impressed Felton, who is once again his teammate in Buffalo.

In an interview with Buffalobills.com right after he signed his contract with the Bills, Felton called Cassel a true pro and his presence on Buffalo’s roster only reinforced his desire to sign with the Bills.

“It was unfortunate last year when he got hurt. He had put a lot of work in and had a really good camp and we felt good about him going into the season,” Felton told Buffalobills.com. “So when I saw that he had signed here it made me more excited. I was already pretty much bought in and I wanted to be here and they wanted me here and when I saw that he was coming I got even more excited. He’s a true professional. He comes to work every day. He’s going to push whoever is already here and push to be the starting quarterback. There’s a lot of work that goes into it and he’s going to put it in every day.”


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Cassel vs. rest of free agent QB field

Posted by Chris Brown on March 4, 2015 – 12:51 pm


Buffalo’s acquisition of Minnesota veteran QB Matt Cassel is a move that when one looks into the numbers makes a good deal of sense. Here’s why.

The rest of the free agent quarterback field is largely made up of similar veteran players. Cassel’s career numbers, especially when it comes to TD-vs-INT and career starts (71) looks appreciably better. Add in the fact that Cassel is the only one on the below list with a Pro Bowl to his name and a division title (winning the AFC West in 2010) besides Michael Vick and it’s encouraging to see the Bills go after a veteran QB that they felt was best for their club.

Name                    G/GS     W-L-T    Comp.   Att.        Pct.        Yards     TD/INT  Rating  

Matt Cassel         91/71     33-38      1397     2369       59          15727    96/70   80.1       
Brian Hoyer        32/17     10-7         356         630         56.5        4557       19/19   76.8
Jake Locker         30/23     9-14       408         709         57.5          4967       27/22  79.0
Colt McCoy       33/25     7-18         501         831         60.3          5458       25/23  78.2
Matt Moore       49/25     11-12       452         768         58.9           5342       33/28   79.2
C. Ponder            38/36     14-21-1  632         1057       59.8          6658       38/36   75.9
Mark Sanchez    71/70     37-33      1226       2176       56.3          14510    82/80     74.1
Michael Vick     138/112 59-50-1    1767        3151       56.1        22093    131/87   80.4


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Report: Cards researching Cassel

Posted by Chris Brown on March 1, 2013 – 9:52 am

First, it was ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Now NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport is reporting that the Arizona Cardinals are doing their due diligence on Kansas City QB Matt Cassel, knowing it’s likely he’ll be moved out with the pending trade of Alex Smith from the 49ers to the Chiefs.

Appearing on NFL Network’s Total Access, Rapoport said Arizona is interested in bringing Cassel in and pairing him with Kevin Kolb in what would be a quarterback competition. He also mentioned the Minnesota Vikings as a possible landing spot for Cassel as the Vikings are reportedly looking for someone to push Christian Ponder.

Cassel has just an average arm and doesn’t appear to be a good fit for Bruce Arians offense in Arizona. He also has been a turnover machine with 30 in his last 18 games.


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Cards interested in Cassel?

Posted by Chris Brown on February 27, 2013 – 2:45 pm

The NFL trade winds are blowing and after the trade between the 49ers and Chiefs for Alex Smith, rumors are swirling that Matt Cassel could be the next QB on the move.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Arizona Cardinals could be interested in acquiring Matt Cassel from the Chiefs.

Cardinals new head coach Bruce Arians would have to change his passing scheme, which does have a reliance on the deep ball knowing Cassel’s arm is average at best. Cassel has also turned the ball over 30 times in his last 18 starts. Still, he might be a better option than what Arizona has right now at that position.

If the Cardinals make a move to acquire a veteran signal caller it would remove yet another quarterback needy team as a threat ahead of the Bills in this year’s draft with Kansas City acquiring Alex Smith. Arizona picks seventh overall, one spot ahead of Buffalo.

 


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Cassel says revenge not a factor for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on September 13, 2012 – 12:45 pm

Last year the Bills embarrassed the Chiefs in their home opener in Kansas City in a 41-7 drubbing. So will the Chiefs be using it at added incentive to return the favor in Buffalo in Week 2? Chiefs QB Matt Cassel says they won’t.

“Not at all,” said Cassel. “Every year is different, and we have a completely different team than what we had last year. Last year was last year, and they did a great job coming in here, but their team is different and we’re different and now its about going out and competing this year.”

It’s hard to believe that the Chiefs won’t be recalling that game as they take the field on Sunday with an opportunity to ruin Buffalo’s home opener. Rest assured with a pair of 0-1 clubs facing each other at Ralph Wilson Stadium and neither wanting to go 0-2 the game will be a physical one.


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Mayock on Fitz and Cassel as NFL QBs

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2012 – 3:31 pm

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock appearing on a national conference call was asked specifically about Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chiefs QB Matt Cassel, who will square off against one another this Sunday in Buffalo. Knowing one of them is going to be 0-2 after this weekend’s game, he was asked what is realistic to expect from these two signal callers.

“We spend so much time talking about what a quarterback‑driven league this is,” said Mayock. “When I look at this league, there are 32 teams and I see seven franchise quarterbacks today, and I see another four or five beyond that that I would take in a heartbeat that I think, either because of injury or not being with the right team or whatever, aren’t quite there yet but could be franchise quarterbacks.

“And then after that there’s a group of four or five quarterbacks of which I think Cassel and Fitzpatrick fit in, where I look at them and say, ‘If you can complement them with a run game and a defense and special teams, they’re capable of winning enough games to be a playoff quarterback.’  And I really believe that both those guys fit into that, but they’re not going to be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and stand at the line of scrimmage in a no‑huddle and just will their team to victory because of their talent, ability and intelligence.

“I really believe that both the guys you’re talking about are good enough to win with, good enough to get in the playoffs with, but you’ve got to surround them with some pretty good people.”

Knowing both quarterbacks are facing a lot of fan criticism after their team’s lopsided losses in Week 1, Mayock was then asked about how much rope he thinks they’ll be given.

“Well, I think it’s way too early, and I tell people all the time, it’s a marathon and not a sprint,” said Mayock. “We’ve got some tape on those two quarterbacks over the last few years, but I don’t think Matt Cassel in particular played with a full deck last year with all the injuries surrounding his key people, so I would say take a step back and let’s let both those teams get through four or five games and we’ll start to figure out what they really are going to be, what their identity is. It’s way too early to panic right now, and I know we’re a knee‑jerk reaction society, but we’ve got to have some patience.” 

Mayock will be part of the broadcast team that does Buffalo’s November 15th Thursday night game against Miami at Ralph Wilson Stadium.


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Chiefs expect Cassel to play

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2011 – 11:42 am

There was some doubt early in the week that Chiefs starting QB Matt Cassel would be able to play after suffering a rib injury in Kansas City’s final preseason game. But Chiefs head coach Todd Haley fully expects him to play Sunday.

“He was out there Monday and I full expect him to practice today (Wednesday) and I would expect him to be ready for the game and I think that’s his expectation,” said Haley.

There were reports out of Kansas City early this week that he sustained a cracked rib after Green Bay DT Howard Green landed on him with his full body weight in that preseason finale last week.


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Cassel practiced fully

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2011 – 9:11 am

Chiefs starting QB Matt Cassel not only participated in practice Monday, he was a full participant.

That according to the team’s website. Here’s Chiefs head coach Todd Haley’s two responses when asked about Matt Cassel following the team’s Monday practice.

Q: Will Cassel play against Buffalo?

HALEY: “Again, I won’t talk about any of those things. He was out there, he practiced, he was moving around and I thought did a good job.”

Q: Was he a full participant in practice?

HALEY: “Yeah, he was full. I mean we don’t have to get to that, but I’ll… Since I’m so nice, I’ll say yeah, he was a full practice today.”

Cassel reportedly has a cracked rib suffered in the team’s preseason finale against Green Bay.


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Bills preparing for Cassel

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2011 – 3:38 pm

Even though Chiefs QB Matt Cassel has a rib injury, the coaching staff and Buffalo’s players are preparing for Sunday’s game with Cassel in Kansas City’s lineup.

“We don’t know anything for sure until Wednesday,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “We get an injury report Wednesday and we’re going to work like Matt is playing and assume that until we hear otherwise.”

Cassel reportedly practiced on Monday with his Chiefs teammates.


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Report: Cassel practicing

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2011 – 1:48 pm

Chiefs QB Matt Cassel, who sustained a rib injury in team’s final preseason game is reportedly practicing today (Monday).

According to the Kansas City Star, Cassel is on the practice field and took the first few snaps under center and threw a handful of passes during the media viewing portion of practice.


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Cassel starting status for Sun.

Posted by Chris Brown on December 7, 2009 – 9:23 am

Chiefs QB Matt Cassel was benched in the third quarter of Kansas City’s humbling 44-13 loss at the hands of the Broncos Sunday.

After the game head coach Todd Haley was asked if Cassel is still the starter. Haley confirmed that he was and will start this week against the Bills.

“I’m very confident in Matt,” Haley said. “Our first series we had a chance to make a huge play on third down. I thought that Matt prepared and was ready to go. The game didn’t go the way he or we wanted it to go and then we let some negative things happen.”

Cassel was 10-29 for 84 yards and a pair of interceptions.


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Cassel deal will be jumping off point for Edwards

Posted by Chris Brown on July 15, 2009 – 3:04 pm

Matt Cassel’s new deal (6-$63M-$28M guaranteed) with the Chiefs naturally impacts the quarterback contract market in the NFL, but his breakout year last season could be used as a parallel for Trent Edwards.

Edwards is entering the third year of a four-year rookie deal. He’s the unquestioned starter, but outside the organization fans still hope, more than know, he’s the long term answer for the Bills.

If Edwards puts up a monster year in 2009, it’s not unrealistic to assume that he could command Matt Cassel money. Cassel had no NFL resume until 2008. To his credit he took advantage of it. Provided Edwards does the same this season it would be difficult to deny him similar money.

And that’s big time cash. Cassel is going to pocket $40.5M over the first three years in the deal.

Some might think it’s better to sign Edwards to an extension right now, knowing the cost would only be higher after a big statistical year and presumably after Jay Cutler is signed to an extension by the Bears, which will only drive QB cost up further.

But the Bills are in a tough spot. In an ideal world, even though the organization believes strongly in Edwards’ ability, you’d think they’d still like to see him put up the big year before rewarding him with a long term contract.

Where do you stand? Extension now or after a big year when costs are only going to be higher?


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