Inside The Bills

Report: LB Spikes signs with Patriots

Posted by Chris Brown on May 18, 2015 – 10:35 am

Bills free agent LB Brandon Spikes has chosen to sign with the team that drafted him.

According to ESPN Patriots reporter Field Yates, Spikes has signed a one-year deal with New England.

Spikes made a free agent visit with the Patriots last week. Buffalo was interested in bringing Spikes back at the right price, but GM Doug Whaley made it clear it would not be as a starter. Spikes is not likely to be a starter in New England either, but with the two starters in front of him coming off of injuries (Jerod Mayo – patellar tendon, Dont’a Hightower – labrum) Spikes stands a better chance of being on the field in New England.

Spikes was a second-round pick of the Patriots back in 2010.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 5-1

Posted by Chris Brown on May 1, 2015 – 11:50 am

The 2015 NFL draft is underway so no need to drone on here. Let’s get right to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,
With all the crazy coming and goings in free agency/ trades it is hard to keep track of where everyone is. I hope it might be possible, just before the draft, if you could list who we have gained and who has moved on. Thanks for a great job…
Erich

CB: Here’s a look at what was gained and lost prior to the draft this offseason.

Additions – RB LeSean McCoy, QB Matt Cassel, WR Percy Harvin, TE Charles Clay, FB Jerome Felton, G Richie Incognito, QB Tyrod Taylor.

Re-signed – DE Jerry Hughes, WR Marcus Easley, DE Jarius Wynn, WR Chris Hogan, K Jordan Gay, DT Corbin Bryant

Subtractions – OT Chris Hairston, LB Kiko Alonso, RB C.J. Spiller, OT Erik Pears, TE Lee Smith, TE Scott Chandler, S Da’Norris Searcy, LB Keith Rivers

Unsigned FAs  – LB Brandon Spikes

 

2 – Chris,
Thanks for all your great work and coverage. Do you think the Bills would consider Devin Funchess at 50? He’s super athletic and has some height that the Bills don’t have that would be great in the end zone. I think with him and the speed the Bills already have, the receiving core would be amazing.

Michael From Albany

CB: Funchess is one of the bigger enigmas in the draft. There’s no debating there’s some tantalizing talent there. Most NFL clubs see him as a receiver, and compare him to Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin. I don’t think he plays as big as Benjamin does. He doesn’t fight enough for contested balls and that was in college. NFL cornerbacks could be a rude awakening for him.

He needs to bulk up and get stronger and he doesn’t have a wide frame like Benjamin. He’s an athletic mismatch no question, but I wonder if he can handle the more physical corners and safeties in the NFL. It’s my belief the Bills will look for a tight end type later in the draft to address their in line blocking. I suppose Funchess being the talent that he is would give any NFL club pause. With all the receiving talent they’ve already added I just can’t see him being a day two pick for Buffalo.

 
3 – Hi Chris,

Great job keeping us on the Bills.  As a Bills fan I was sorry to see Scott Chandler let go.  Do you think the Bills will be able to upgrade the tight end position with current players that were back up players by trade or the draft?  I felt he was under rated and poorly used at times.  The fact that New England signed him is an indication of his worth.  Please give me the your thoughts about the reasoning behind this situation.

Arizona Bills fan,
Max F. Stolzenberg, Jr.

CB: From what I understand Chandler was simply not a fit in Buffalo’s new offensive scheme. Greg Roman’s scheme demands a versatile, athletic player at the tight end position, who can line up in the backfield, as an H-back, detached or in line at tight end. Charles Clay does all those things, so they’ve upgraded by virtue of Clay being a better fit than Chandler.

Marqueis Gray also has the potential to fit provided he continues to progress at the position. He’s athletic and versatile too. As I stated above if they do add in the draft I’m expecting them to add a blocker.

 

4 – Chris,
With the team going “all in” for this year, what are the positions of need. Rounds 2-3 are really important on hitting on. Do you expect the Bills to add a guard to potentially start? It looks like Clay will
become a Bill so tight end maybe out? Are there more defensive holes to fix at either safety (Searcy) or linebacker (Alonso). What needs are left and will they skip on best player available and go for most
NFL ready?

CB: I think offensive line is a clear focus for Buffalo. They have just three offensive tackles on their roster and need to go with five to six to training camp. Linebacker is another position in need of numbers. They’ve got just five on the roster and need to go into camp with nine or 10. They could also use another tight end.

Ideally the Bills board offers value at offensive tackle or guard when they’re on the clock at 50 and value at linebacker when they’re on the board again at 81.

As for safety they’re stocked. Duke Williams, Bacarri Rambo, Jonathan Meeks and Kenny Ladler are all young options with potential.

I asked Doug Whaley if NFL readiness with a roster like theirs took precedence over a player with the higher ceiling. He told me no, that the player who has the better upside is the way to go no matter the state of your roster.

 

5 – Chris, as always, super job.

As excited as we all are about the Bills spending spree and the new/re-signed assets, I am concerned about having the monies to get Marcel Dareus and Stephon Gilmore deals re-done before they hit free agency.  Can the Bills find the funds to keep these 2 cornerstones of the defense, who should be around for years to come?

Thomas R. Veihdeffer

CB: The extension for Dareus is priority number one right now and I’m confident they’ll accomplish that. They just picked up the fifth-year option on Gilmore, but I think it’s possible they get an extension done with him as well sooner than the timetable applied to Dareus. The reason being if they can sign him to a contract that has an average annual value that’s a couple of million less per season than the $11M figure he’ll have under the fifth-year option it’s better for their cap situation in 2016.

The Bills like a lot of teams are banking on the recent trend of the cap going up a lot again next season. It’s gone up $10M each of the last two years, which is a sizable jump. They believe they can keep both in the fold and still sign Nigel Bradham and Cordy Glenn long term as well. We’ll see.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills won’t be free agent players next year

Posted by Chris Brown on April 21, 2015 – 1:02 pm

The Buffalo Bills made some exciting trades and some aggressive moves in free agency this offseason that has the team poised to bring an end to their playoff drought. But don’t expect the flurry of activity to happen again in 2016.

Bills GM Doug Whaley all but confirmed that with the high-priced players they signed (McCoy, Harvin) and the high-priced players they re-signed (Hughes) or extended (Kyle Williams) they won’t be in a position to spend like that again next March.

“Next year the Bills fans should take vacation during free agency,” Doug Whaley told the John Murphy Show. “Our free agency now, because we’ve drafted so well turns to our own players. Marcell Dareus, Cordy Glenn, Nigel Bradham, Stephon Gilmore that will be our free agency next year. We’ll turn into the Green Bay Packers.”

Whaley knows Dareus and Gilmore will command high price tags based not only on their production, but the position they’ll play with Glenn and Bradham not far behind. That’s why the personnel department is hopeful they can land a contributing player or two late in the draft, who will be far more affordable knowing a lot of cap dollars will be tied into the elite core of players.

“With the guys we’ve paid this year and brought in and the guys we’re going to try to re-sign next offseason those guys are going to be high-priced players,” said Whaley. “So to balance that out you have to hit on some fifth, sixth or seventh round players to have that, for lack of a better term, cheap labor and balance out that top heavy end of the price structure in the cap situation with our top end players.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-10

Posted by Chris Brown on April 10, 2015 – 2:33 pm

The preseason schedule is out with the 16-game regular season slate soon to follow. More on that below. Let’s get to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

#bills when will the 2015 regular season be out?

bailey_pinkston

CB: The precursor to the regular season schedule, the preseason schedule was released this past Thursday. It often signals that the release of the regular season schedule is coming soon. All indications are that the league will release the regular season schedule some time during the week of April 19th.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

Petty or Grayson would be the perfect game managers for Buffalo’s new offense. Thoughts please???

mattgolden03

CB: Bryce Petty and Garrett Grayson are in that second tier of quarterback prospects after the top two. Both could merit consideration in round two. While I like Petty’s football IQ I still think there will be a steeper learning curve for him than Grayson, who played in a pro-style offense.

Grayson has had to read coverages and progressions. Petty has not. And while I don’t doubt that’s something Petty has been working on it’s just not the same as when the real bullets are flying.

If you believe one of them could come in as a rookie and effectively execute Buffalo’s new offense, which has a myriad of pre-snap shifts, motions and formations I think you might be expecting too much.

Frankly for 2015 you’re better off with either Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel in my opinion, which is why I’d be surprised if Buffalo invests in the quarterback position high in the draft, if at all this spring.

 

3 – Chris,

Given the current coaching staff’s desire to build a tough running team and a physical team,  do you see Justin Blalock as a possible signing to fortify the offensive line now that he is a free agent? Also, what are your thoughts of giving money to signing Mark Ingram over say resigning Spiller. Ingram has shown he can move the chains with power, rip off long runs with quickness and catch the ball.

Thanks,
Patrick

CB: While Blalock is a more than capable veteran guard I don’t believe the Bills want to add any more veterans up front. They have three veteran guards right now in Incognito, Urbik and Chris Williams. It wouldn’t surprise me if they felt that adding another would compromise the growth of a younger player like Cyril Richardson. So if they do add at the guard position I believe it’ll be in the draft, even though I see offensive tackle as a position more in need of depth than anywhere else on the line.

 

4 – Chris,

The Kouandjio article was encouraging to see.  I like to know that some players are working all year to be better and hope it works out for the kid.

What was his problem exactly last training camp?  Was he out of shape? Difficult time reacting? Diagnosing?  You would think his college experience gave him good game speed experience.  Thanks and can’t wait for this season to start!

Steve K
Kenmore, NY
CB: Yes, John Murphy’s article, which followed an interview with Kouandjio by phone certainly painted a picture as to how hard the second-year lineman is working. He was training out in Arizona all winter working on his techniques and getting coaching from former NFL OL LeCharles Bentley.

Kouandjio didn’t place blame anywhere but on himself for how his rookie season went. He said he didn’t think he had a strong enough mindset as he began his NFL career. To a certain degree that’s understandable. He turned 21 just last July and is still young in the game. Stepping up to the NFL level was probably a bit different even than what he experienced as a starter at Alabama in the SEC.

In the conversations I’ve had with him he sounds like his whole approach to the game has changed and he’s going full bore into his second NFL season. Add in the fact that he has hit it off quickly with new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and he’ll be an interesting player to watch in training camp when the pads go on.

 

5 –  Chris,
FIve years ago I wanted the Bills to draft Ryan Mallett. He was a 1st round prospect, a Heisman candidate, a coach’s son, and a big QB like Big Ben. He fell to NE in the 3rd round, what happened? Why did the Bills not bring him in as compaction with EJ?

Tim Scouten

CB: There’s no debating that Ryan Mallett has a rocket arm for a quarterback. His over the top delivery looks great. Here’s the problem with his game. First, his accuracy. His career completion percentage of 53.2 percent is an issue, which shouldn’t happen for a quarterback with superior arm strength. His decision making is also suspect, especially when he has to get rid of the ball quick. Now every QB is subject to a bad decision or two when hurried. His have been more frequent over the years.

Perhaps the most important skill he’s lacking for Buffalo’s offense is the ability to extend the play. He is a pocket quarterback only. If the pocket breaks down and he can’t get rid of the ball the play is dead. That is not the case with each of the quarterbacks currently on Buffalo’s roster. It leads me to believe that offensive coordinator Greg Roman prefers some measure of mobility in his QBs to extend plays if and when protection breaks down.

Finally, there’s even less of a book on him than EJ Manuel. He’s played in just seven NFL games to EJ’s 14 career starts. If you bring in another unknown quantity at QB you run the risk of not finding out about exactly what he or Manuel can be.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bucs sign LB Dean

Posted by Chris Brown on April 9, 2015 – 11:22 am

Bills free agent LB Larry Dean has been signed by another NFL club.

Dean officially signed with Tampa Bay. Largely a special teams contributor for the Bills, Dean appeared in 13 games for Buffalo in 2014 and was third in special teams tackles last season.

The Buccaneers will be Dean’s third NFL club. He was originally signed as an undrafted rookie by Minnesota in 2011.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Kyle: additions are matchup nightmares

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2015 – 3:13 pm

Bills DT Kyle Williams got an extension on his contract to help create some cap room for some of the club’s free agent signings this offseason. With some of the players coming from division rivals Williams knows the matchup problems they can present to a defense.

“I think all of the guys that we added are guys that we’ve broken down in our game plans,” said Willims. “Every time we’ve played against those guys, those are guys that we earmarked and said that we have to have an eye on them, that we have to account for them on every play. So, I’m excited about, you can’t ever have too many good players, especially on our team. And I’m excited I get to play with them and not prepare for them.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-3

Posted by Chris Brown on April 3, 2015 – 11:45 am

The team’s offseason conditioning program begins on Monday. Prep for 2015 begins. Now for your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

Thanks for all you do to keep Bills fans informed.

The perception in Tennessee seems to be that Andy Levitre has not lived up to his contract.  If he gets released, do you see any chance of him coming back to Buffalo?  Do you think that would be a good move at this point for the Bills?

Thanks.
Jason T
Philadelphia, PA
Go Bills!

CB: I wouldn’t rule it out, but I believe it’s unlikely. Levitre is still young enough to command a pretty sizable contract so were he to be released I think he’d still cost a hefty amount. And with Buffalo’s limited cap space now I don’t know that he’d fit from a fiscal standpoint.

 

2 – Hey Chris ,

WOW !  I can see this McCoy trade blowing up in the Bills face! Personally I think Whaley has made a HUGE mistake! He GAVE away a star in the making not to mention with the contracts of Hughes this year, Dareus & Gilmore next year & others he has screwed up the amount of the cap that he will have to work with & who he will be able to keep beyond next year.

Not to mention that if CJ had any thoughts of working with the team by seeing what he was worth as a FA & coming to the Bills & asking what kind of deal they could give that is gone because they instead of doing what they said trying to bring back their draft picks totally alienated CJ!

It was once said that they meaning the Bills were going to build through the draft & wanted to keep their own. Building through the draft is much more cost effective! If there was any chance of them picking up say Gurley that is probably gone to with the Shady deal. If they would have offers CJ $8 Mil a year he probably would have taken the deal & saved them cap space .

I really hope this pans out but I think it will back fire & make us look like what the rest of the league already thinks of us, a laughing stock
Mr. T from Fort Myers via Nashville
CB: I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. Yes, there is no question the Bills gave up a good, young player in Kiko Alonso, but when you have the opportunity to land one of the top three running backs in the league who is just entering his prime and you’re coming off a season in which you finished 25th in the league in rushing you pull the trigger.

Buffalo had the fourth-best defense in the league last year without Kiko Alonso on the field. Alonso is coming off his second career ACL and also had shoulder surgery last year. I’m not saying he can’t come back from that, but that’s a lot of wear and tear on a 25-year old body.

To compare McCoy and Spiller is apples and oranges. McCoy can run inside and outside and handle a heavy workload. As much as I respect C.J.’s game history tells us a heavy workload more likely leads to injury for him.

The cap concerns you have were alleviated with McCoy re-doing his deal, which contained an extension to spread his money out more.

Concerning your comment on building through the draft, the Bills aren’t deviating from the philosophy. This was an offer that was presented to them out of the blue. When you have an opportunity like the Bills did to land McCoy you take it no matter what your philosophy is as to how to build your team.

With all due respect I think you need to put a little more faith in Doug Whaley as a GM.
3 – Chris,

With Kiko gone, who fills his spot inside? I think he would have been valuable and isn’t easily replaceable as people think due to the fact that he is a 3 down linebacker who can drop into coverage. Will they bring back Spikes?

CB: Spikes does remain an available option, but I think the Bills are only willing to re-sign him at their price. Buffalo has two capable three down linebackers in Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown. I expect the Bills to draft a linebacker in the middle rounds to build their depth and would expect them to look for an athletic backer. Manny Lawson probably moves back to more of a SAM linebacker role in Dennis Thurman’s defense so that brings another veteran to the LB corps.
4 – Chris,
How do compensatory picks work?  I know generally that if a team loses more free agents than it signs, they get awarded pick(s).  But how do you have a team if you’ve lost more players than you have received?  I don’t get it.

As a follow up, this has been an interesting offseason so far.  Do you see the Bills optimizing to try to acquire compensatory picks?

 

Thanks!

Len in NYC
CB: The basics of determining compensatory picks begins with a net loss of free agents as you mentioned, but there is a myriad of particulars as to what free agent signings count and what ones do not. For example if a free agent is signed after June 1st (now May 12th per reports) it doesn’t count toward your plus-minus free agent total. There are several other stipulations that govern the final total that’s too much to get into here.

Baltimore is one of those clubs that has turned acquiring compensatory picks into an art form. Very often they wait to sign free agents until after June 1st (now May 12th) so they don’t count toward their total and they’re routinely among the clubs getting the most compensatory picks the next year for their free agent losses.

As for the Bills, the acquisition of Clay (who from what I’ve been told will count), Harvin and Felton have Buffalo ahead of the game with Pears, Spiller, Searcy and Lee Smith signing elsewhere. So I’ve got the Bills at minus one. We’ll see how it all shakes out next March.

 

5 – Chris,

A question on free agency. If an agent is dealing with team “A” and team “B” and say one team comes in  higher than another, but the player prefers playing for the team with lower bid who has the final say. Does the agent have the right to say I’m working for you to get the highest salary possible? Is the player bound to sign the best offer?  With Josh McCown signing with the Browns, was the three-year deal probably the factor? It seems in the past for a veteran type backup two-year deals were the going rate .

Thanks for keeping us fans in the know, your the best.

Wally James
Fredericksburg ,Va

CB: Thanks for the kind words. Per your question the answer is no. Players hire the agent, not the other way around. So players determine ultimately who they want to play for. Now agents will sometimes try to steer or convince players to take the offer with more money, and in many cases they do. Some players do forget to think for themselves and do what they want and blindly follow their agent’s recommendation. But most know it’s their career and their decision.

Concerning McCown my understanding is Cleveland was willing to pay McCown a lot more than the Bills were willing to offer, so it was more about the total committed dollars than the length of the contract.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: June 1st deadline moved up to May

Posted by Chris Brown on March 31, 2015 – 5:27 pm

The formerly infamous date on the NFL calendar for veteran players with fat cap numbers and a role on their team not commensurate with that financial figure is no more. The June 1st free agency deadline has been moved.

That according to ProFootballTalk, which is reporting the deadline has been moved up to May 12th. June 1st used to be the date where after it came and went NFL clubs would cut veteran players that they no longer wanted who had multiple years left on their contract. Teams could cut the player after June 1st and not absorb the full amortization of the contract in the current year, instead pushing it to the next fiscal year.

The date lost its punch when the NFL allowed teams to cut up to two players prior to June 1st, yet still designate them as post-June 1st cuts to move their cap hits into the next year.

The only real significance left to the date is if free agents are signed after June 1st they don’t factor into determining whether a team had a net loss of free agents which is the primary criteria to qualify clubs for compensatory picks. Now that date will be May 12th, which will allow players who sign after that date to participate in most of the offseason practices with their new club (OTAs, minicamp, etc.).


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills new TE not feeling pressure of big deal

Posted by Chris Brown on March 24, 2015 – 5:52 pm

Bills TE Charles Clay now has a contract that puts him in the upper echelon of tight ends in the league in terms of average annual salary. Is he feeling the pressure to live up to the deal as he begins the next chapter of his career with Buffalo?

Clay says for him it’s not about outside pressure or the pressure of a big contract to perform.

“I don’t feel like anyone could put as much pressure on me that I put on myself,” Clay said. “I’m going to go out and work hard every single day. What I won’t do is go out and start pressing. Trying to prove why I got the contract and things like that. Once you start doing that is when guys start to mess up.

“What I plan on doing: I’m going to go out and play as hard as I can which is what I always do. I don’t feel any added pressure. I already set high standards for myself. I’m going to work hard and do everything I can to help this team win no matter what that is. Whatever I have to do, that’s what I’m willing to do so I’ll just go from there.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Clay: Waiting was the hardest part

Posted by Chris Brown on March 24, 2015 – 5:48 pm

Bills new TE Charles Clay wasn’t trying to mimic Tom Petty’s hit song, but as Miami’s transition player, the waiting truly was the hardest part of his free agent process this spring, especially when he was set on joining the Bills.

Clay first had to wait about a week before finally signing Buffalo’s offer sheet. Then there was more waiting to see if Miami would match the offer sheet. The Dolphins ultimately pulled the plug after just two days confirming they would not match, even though they could’ve gone a full five days. Still, it was much too long for Clay.

“It was strange simply because you take that visit and everything went so well from meeting coaches to meeting people around the facility. I was so excited to have that opportunity that I wanted to sign right away and then signing that offer sheet and then having to wait,” Clay said via conference call Tuesday. “Then it’s kind of like taking a step back and just having to wait on everything to play out, but at the end of the day it all worked out just how I wanted it and like I said, I couldn’t be happier.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Talent in Bills locker room intrigued Clay

Posted by Chris Brown on March 23, 2015 – 4:37 pm

Bills TE Charles Clay knew Buffalo was seriously interested in bringing him onto their roster, but when he saw the other moves the team was making to add big time talent to the roster he was getting more and more excited.

Clay, in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, explained how Buffalo’s other acquisitions had him thinking about the possibilities for the Bills offense in 2015.

“You see those moves they were making and you get a sense of guys who want to win,” said Clay. “LeSean (McCoy), a great leader and a great back and you add Percy (Harvin), a dynamic game changer at any point in the game. Then you throw in an O-lineman like Richie (Incognito), I played with Richie in Miami and I know the kind of toughness he brings to the game. He’s a great guy to have on your team. He’s one of those guys you hate to go against because he’s so tough, but he’s a guy when he’s a teammate he’s going to go to war for any one of his teammates so he’s a great guy to have around.”

On his free agent visit to Buffalo, Clay quickly developed a feel for the city and how supportive the fan base is in Western New York.

“I was on a visit there for three days and you can get a sense of it. They’re passionate about their team,” said Clay. “Buffalo was always a place that I hated going and visiting and playing because I knew how passionate those fans were and how loud that stadium got. It’s always a tough place to play. So being on the other side now and being able to play there it’ll be a good feeling. I’m excited. I can’t wait.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Clay appreciated Bills 1st class treatment

Posted by Chris Brown on March 23, 2015 – 4:23 pm

Bills newest TE Charles Clay is excited to get this new chapter in his football career started with the Bills after Miami chose not to match Buffalo’s contract offer. And while the money probably said enough, it was the first class treatment by Buffalo that convinced him.

In an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Clay appreciated how much his talents were valued by the Bills.

“It was a good feeling. It’s always a good feeling to be wanted by someone,” he said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity that Buffalo gave me. Throughout the whole process they definitely showed me that they valued me and it was a good feeling.

“When you have a team come along and they’re showing that they value you, and you look at some of the moves they’ve made in Buffalo, you get a sense that they want to win and they want to win right away. Having that new staff and new owners that city is excited about that team and it’s something that I love to be a part of. I’m excited and glad to get this opportunity.”

As for all the waiting that took place before he finally was locked up with Buffalo, Clay said he understood the process, but is glad there’s no more waiting.

“I’m glad it’s finally over and I’m about ready to get to work now,” he said.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills cited as free agency winners

Posted by Chris Brown on March 20, 2015 – 12:16 pm

As the national pundits review what has happened in the first two weeks of free agency they’re already tabbing which clubs are the free agency winners. Near the top of the list for most has been the Bills.

Here’s what NFL.com thought of the Bills in listing them among their free agency success stories this offseason.

Buffalo Bills
New owner Terry Pegula has not been afraid to spend. He nabbed coach Rex Ryan quickly, and has continued to spend on Jerry Hughes, LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay, Percy Harvin, and Matt Cassel. Some of these contracts have been too big, but there’s no denying that the Bills have upgraded the talent on a roster that was already loaded defensively. Most teams have added pieces to the puzzle, but the Bills have re-signed, acquired, or picked up difference makers. Anything short of a playoff appearance will be a disappointment.

The Jets were another team from the AFC East listed as a free agency winner as they successfully revamped their secondary.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-20

Posted by Chris Brown on March 20, 2015 – 11:14 am

Another busy week of free agency for the Bills. We’ll obviously know more on Charles Clay soon. For now your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – @ChrisBrownBills

Are we looking at a WR1 with Harvin? Watkins WR2. Woods WR3. Harvin, starting combo? Are they looking to add another WR through draft?

killerbeekevin

CB: I still think Sammy Watkins remains the number one option in Buffalo’s passing game despite the signing of Percy Harvin. Harvin is probably the number two receiver outside in light of the money invested in him. The Harvin acquisition was done to discourage defenses from doubling Watkins.

Woods and Hogan probably work out of the slot more. If Clay becomes Bills property he works the seams and the flats underneath.

As for drafting a receiver, I think that’s one position you can cross off the list unless some phenomenal talent slips to them that wasn’t expected. The reason why is looking at Buffalo’s depth chart right now your top five wideouts look like this.

Watkins
Harvin
Woods
Hogan
Easley – for special teams

After that you’ve got Goodwin, Thigpen, Brown, Holley, Thompson and Palmer. Do the Bills keep six receivers this year? Knowing they will be carrying a fullback and need numbers at tight end for Greg Roman’s offense I don’t think seeing six receivers on Buffalo’s 53-man roster is as likely as it was under the previous coaching staff.

 

2 – @ChrisBrownBills

ummm can I just throw this out there? Philip Rivers. Buffalo Bill?

nschirra8

CB: You’re welcome to throw it out there. Yes, Rivers’ contract is up after the 2015 season, and he has said he has little incentive to sign an extension with San Diego. His lack of interest stems from the prospect of the Chargers possibly moving to Los Angeles as they’re currently operating under a year-to-year lease in San Diego.

If he’s not open to negotiating an extension, the Chargers can make use of the franchise tag, which would present San Diego with a cap hit of more than $20M. He’ll be 34-years old in 2016.

Chargers GM Tom Telesco said he has every intention of keeping Rivers a Charger moving forward. So I don’t see him going anywhere unless some phenom quarterback prospect falls in San Diego’s lap.

 

3 – Chris,
Chris, I’ve seen at least on draft site list LT as a major priority for the Bills. Is there any discussion of moving Cordy Glenn to G?

CB: I think offensive tackle is a distinct possibility in the draft for Buffalo, especially with how they’ve addressed some of their other perceived positional needs like tight end and running back in free agency, though I could see a back or tight end taken somewhere on day three.

Offensive line (tackle or guard) and linebacker are probably the two most pressing positional needs. As for the future position for Cordy Glenn, guard was raised as a possibility under the previous coaching staff.

I think the likelihood of that resurfacing as a possibility hinges on one thing, how much they address the tackle position between now and training camp.

Right now they have just three true offensive tackles on their roster in Glenn, Henderson and Kouandjio. If they draft one on day two they’ll have four and even then I don’t know that they consider such a move for Glenn.

Is it possible? There’s always a chance, especially with a new coaching staff. Is it likely? I don’t think so, based primarily on numbers at the position.

 

4 – Chris,

I don’t understand why people are saying that the Bills need to draft a running back?
Especially not with a high draft pick when there are more pressing needs on the offensive line. Aren’t Fred Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon enough?
LeeD

CB: I think the running back need has been reduced, but I’m not opposed to the Bills drafting one late. Here’s why. Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown are both entering the final year of their contracts. Sure it’s possible one might re-sign, but I doubt that both do.

What’s wrong with using a day three pick on a running back that you feel has a chance to push for a roster spot who might surprise you? Late round backs are finding more and more NFL jobs on 53-man rosters than at most other positions. Worse comes to worse you might be able to sneak such a back onto your practice squad, and have someone in reserve who knows the system should a rash of injuries strike.

 

5 – Hi Chris,

Great job keeping all these Bills fans way out here in the Pacific Northwest in the know when it comes to our Bills!

My question is looking back one more time at last season. What in the world happened to Mike Williams? He seemed to be developing into that deep middle guy and goal line end zone threat. If I’m not mistaken wasn’t his last catch an 80-yard bomb from E.J. Manuel at the tail end of that heartbreaking loss to Houston? Why did he fall off so quickly in favor of Chris Hogan?

Glenn

CB: Mike Williams’ issues stemmed from his lack of reliability in executing his assignments on offense. Whether it was in practice or in games Kyle Orton made it pretty clear that he didn’t feel he could trust him. Chris Hogan was the complete opposite. He was a reliable player that didn’t have many miscues when it came to executing assignments.

Now Hogan’s emergence wasn’t solely due to Williams’ less than ideal professionalism. I believe he would have moved past Williams in the lineup at some point last season. Williams’ indifference to putting in extra time with the new quarterback in the lineup effective Week 5 just accelerated that process.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Harvin will get chances in Buffalo

Posted by Chris Brown on March 18, 2015 – 3:13 pm


Bills newest WR Percy Harvin
is a game breaking talent, and for anyone that doubted that after seeing him traded twice in the span of a calendar year from the Vikings to the Seahawks to the Jets, his eight games under Rex Ryan was hard proof.

Harvin only played eight games for the Jets last season, but he was very effective in an offense that had its share of struggles in 2014. In those eight games with New York here is where his production ranked on the team.

Receiving average – 12.1 – 1st
Yards after catch – 160 – 1st
Plays of 25+ yards – 4 – T-1st (Decker)
Touchdowns – 1 – T-1st (Decker, Graham)
Receptions – 29 – 2nd (Decker)
Receiving yards – 350 – 2nd (Decker)
Passing targets – 52 – 2nd – (Decker – 62)
1st downs – 15 – 2nd – (Decker – 21)

So Harvin was clearly an additional threat for New York’s offense. In fact his production in eight games was superior to most of other receivers on the roster who had been on the roster the entire season. Better consistency at quarterback likely would’ve made him even more productive.

Ryan wasted no time putting Harvin to good use. In his first game for the Jets, which ironically was against the Bills in Week 8, he was used on 52 percent of the plays on offense despite only glancing at the playbook that week. Come Week 9 he was up to 84 percent of the offensive plays at Kansas City and broke out for 11 catches for 129 yards. His other big game was in Week 14 at Minnesota where he had six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.

In addition Harvin handled kick return duties and had free license to bring the ball out of the end zone no matter how deep it was. He averaged a solid 24.75 yards a return rolling up 495 yards on 20 kick returns. Whether he’ll be given that same license in Buffalo remains to be seen.

Still, there’s no denying that Buffalo’s speed on the outside just went up another notch from where it already was.

Harvin had a good relationship with Rex Ryan in their half season together in New York. He also got along well with receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who is now in Buffalo under Ryan in the same role.

So although the talent pool at the skill positions is clearly deeper in Buffalo, Harvin will be seeing a good deal of action on offense, if his use in New York is any indication.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Free agent LB Spikes appears on NFL Network

Posted by Chris Brown on March 18, 2015 – 11:36 am

Bills free agent LB Brandon Spikes was an in studio guest on NFL Network’s NFL AM show Wednesday. Spikes was asked about the likelihood of him re-signing with Buffalo.

When asked if he’d like to be back in Buffalo for 2015, Spikes answered in the affirmative.

“Of course I’d like to go back, but you know how it goes in this league,” he said. “Guys with a new staff they like their guys and everybody understands that. I love Buffalo.”

Though Spikes only spent one season in Buffalo he has an affinity for the city and the fans who embraced him.

“Honestly I can’t put it into words. It reminds me of a place I used to play down in the Gainesville called the Swamp. It’s the truth,” Spikes said. “I really appreciate those fans up there because I hadn’t experienced that since I had been in the NFL and that just gave me the boost to get up every morning and get my job done.”

Spikes was also asked about Bills new head coach Rex Ryan and if he thinks he’s a match for the type of player he likes.

“I love Rex and what he brings to the table,” said Spikes. “He’s a player’s coach and guys play for him, but with all the moves this offseason, the dynamic guys with Shady (McCoy) and (Percy) Harvin and Sammy (Watkins), it’s great. Honestly I can’t wait to watch those guys.”

Bills GM Doug Whaley said at the NFL Combine last month that they told Spikes he’d be welcome to return as a one or two down linebacker at most with a price fitting of such a player. He also encouraged him to see if he could do better on the open market knowing Spikes still wants to be a starter in the NFL.

As for how he’s approaching free agency Spikes said he’s left it in the hands of his agent.

“For the most part my agent has been doing a great job with that. I just told them that I’m ready to go to whoever wants me,” he said. “They’re going to get a great player, a complete player, a leader, a guy that plays the game the right way with a lot of fire. I’m ready to go. I’m all good.”

When asked if he would return to New England, Spikes said he would play anywhere.

 

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Whaley: 1st week of free agency unprecedented

Posted by Chris Brown on March 14, 2015 – 1:51 pm

The first week of free agency had a different element to it. Not only were there player trades, but they included some of the largest names in the game. Haloti Ngata, Jimmy Graham and a handful of others were on the move. As Bills GM Doug Whaley watched it all unfold and made a couple of trades of his own, he admits there was an unprecedented nature to the start of this year’s free agent period.

“I’ve been in this 20 years and that was probably the most activity I’ve seen on the trade front in terms of the quality of players,” Whaley told Buffalobills.com. “I think it’s just the byproduct of teams trying to get better and teams trying to move assets and get something in return. It was also a byproduct of the salary cap. Having some players that are maybe a little higher in the salary cap and you’ve got to do some adjustments just to try to keep your team relevant.”

Seeing such quality talent on the move was unusual, but it was chiefly tied to one thing. Money.

“It’s all money. You sign these guys and they have cap numbers and when you first sign them it’s great,” Whaley said. “Then you get down the road and you add pieces here and there and then you stop and realize you have to reduce your cap number and if the guy balks instead of trying to get nothing for him you offer him up in a trade and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

In year’s past when NFL clubs knew a team had to move an established veteran player with a high cap figure, most would not swing a trade and instead just wait until the player was cut and try to sign him as a free agent. In this new league year that hasn’t happened.

“I think people are starting to see if you really want this guy remove all doubt (and trade for him),” Whaley said. “You can sit and wait, but then you’re competing with other people. Now you may have to give up something, but at least you get the guy you want. If you want the guy, do what you have to do to go get the guy.”

 


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Report: Bills have deal with WR Harvin

Posted by Chris Brown on March 13, 2015 – 3:32 pm

The Bills were the only team that Percy Harvin visited as a free agent after his release from the Jets. Now it appears he’ll remain in the AFC East.

That according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who is reporting a one-year deal between Harvin and the Bills.

No word yet from the Bills organization.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: TE Chandler signs with Patriots

Posted by Chris Brown on March 13, 2015 – 1:09 pm

Bills former tight end Scott Chandler will apparently be staying in the AFC East.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Chandler has agreed to a contract with the New England Patriots.

The Pats already have Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright as pass catching options in their offense. Where Chandler fits is hard to say right now knowing he’s not a blocking specialist.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 3-13

Posted by Chris Brown on March 13, 2015 – 11:44 am

Happy Friday the 13th everybody. It’s been a busy week Bills fans so let’s get right to your questions from email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Hi Chris,

Thank you for all of the work you do for the bills it’s great. I was wondering if the bills were interested in signing guard mike lupati from the 49ers. I don’t know if the 49ers will resign him, but he would be a great fit for the bills. He is one of the top guards in the league and could come to the same offense he’s been in with Greg Roman.

Thank you,
Max

CB: I never got the sense that the Bills had much interest in Mike Iupati. In fact I think their initial plan was to pursue free agent offensive tackles over guards. With a player like Bryan Bulaga now re-signed in Green Bay I suppose the focus could shift to guard. Of course the top guards are already locked up now too.

Where the Bills go to improve their offensive line will certainly be interesting knowing their options on the free agent market are certainly reduced.

 

2 – Chris,

A very good candidate to keep an eye on in the draft is Bo Wallace from Ole Miss, 6’4″, 217 lbs, awesome talent. What do you all think of the Bills chance of bringing him in and taking a long, serious look at him? Might be able to trade up to get him. Let’s hope the Bills include him in their prospects. Maybe you could buzz up the Bills brass and put a “bug in their ear”.

Thanks for your time.
IRT

CB: I don’t envision the Bills spending a draft choice on a quarterback now that they’ve got four on the roster, unless some prospect slips to them in some of the middle rounds that they can’t pass on. Buffalo’s willingness to trade for a veteran QB like Cassel and add a younger QB like Tyrod Taylor to go with EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel it’s hard to think they’d add a fifth.

 

3 – Hi Chris,

I was wondering about Marqueis Gray and what you might know about the new staff’s possible opinion of him. If I remember correctly, he proved to be a very athletic and versatile player. I recall seeing him line up as a tight end, h-back, fullback, and even from various receiver positions. I think a player like him, with such great versatility and decent skills at everything could be a great asset to the bills. And Greg roman has been known to covet versatile guys. What are your thoughts?

Billsmafia for life!
Tommy from Pittsford

CB: It’s hard to know just what the new Bills offensive staff thinks of Marqueis Gray, but what is working in his favor is his versatility. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman covets versatility in his tight ends and Gray is an athlete who can provide that. I think he’ll be given every opportunity to earn a role that will contribute weekly.

 

4 – Chris,

According to Wikipedia the Bills have Tampa Bay’s pick -the 1st pick in round# 5 of the 2015 NFL Draft. Why is that? I dont recall any deal with Tampa Bay other than the one for Mike Williams. BTW I dont see any compensation (6th round pick?) going to Tampa Bay from Buffalo for Williams?

Thanks
LeeD

CB: The Bills swung a trade with the Buccaneers on day 3 of the NFL draft last year. Buffalo gave Tampa their fifth-round pick in exchange for Tampa’s seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, and Buffalo also got Tampa’s fifth-round pick this year (2015). But Buffalo doesn’t have that pick anymore. They sent it to Minnesota in the Matt Cassel trade.

 

5 – Chris:

With a new coaching staff, does the league allow additional practice time,  OTAs for the Bills?  Also, Chris Williams was placed on injured reserve with a back injury.  Was their surgery to correct this condition and/or what is his current physical condition?

Conrad in Elma

CB: Yes, new coaching staffs get the benefit of an additional set of practices to implement their schemes to their new players. So Buffalo will get that extra set of spring workouts, presumably sometime in April.

As for Chris Williams’ back I do not know if surgery was required for his back condition. I do know that he has had back surgery in his past. In his rookie year he needed surgery to take care of a herniated disc. We’ll know more when the players show up next month for the offseason conditioning program.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills