The Buffalo skinny

The Bills like young fullback Philip Crosby, who did a nice job in a blocking role last year. So why sign 11-year veteran Sam Gash, 34, who played the '98 and '99 seasons in Buffalo?

 

Well, he's a proven commodity as one of the NFL's best short-yardage blockers of all time. He also replaces some of the leadership that was lost by letting go Larry Centers and linebacker Eddie Robinson.

Signing Gash, a fan favorite during his first tour with the Bills, is the latest sign of the team's commitment to running the ball more and creating more balance for an offense that set numerous team passing marks last fall. Other signs Buffalo wants to run the ball were the trade of WR Peerless Price to Atlanta and the release of Centers, whose specialty was catching the ball.

Gash, who played six seasons for New England and will be reunited with QB Drew Bledsoe, made the Pro Bowl in both of his two previous seasons with the Bills before being let go in a salary cap purge. He signed with Baltimore and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV during the 2000 season.

NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: DL, WR, S.

DL -- The addition of Sam Adams addresses a top run-stuffing need, but the Bills could still take a speed rushing end in the draft.

WR -- The team needs to replace Peerless Price's 94 catches and have added Bobby Shaw and Antonio Brown to the mix. Qadry Ismail is on the radar screen.

SS -- Bills released Billy Jenkins so backup help behind Coy Wire is needed. Newly signed Izell Reese can play strong if needed.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE Chidi Ahanotu (colorful veteran isn't likely to be re-signed after the additions of Marcus Jones and Keith McKenzie); OL Bill Conaty (Bills will look to bring back the former starting center for depth purposes, but he'll want to shop the market); KR/PR Charlie Rogers (veteran did acceptable job returning kicks but his 5.3-yard punt return average doesn't give him much bargaining power. Bills will look to upgrade but haven't closed the door on him).

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): DT Leif Larsen (not tendered as RFA); DE Kendrick Office (not tendered as ERFA). RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Sammy Morris (tendered at $605,000 with 5th-round pick as compensation; valuable member of club as backup and special teams captain).

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: QB Travis Brown (tendered at $450,000); FB Philip Crosby (tendered at $375,000); LB Anthony Denman (tendered at $375,000); DE Grant Irons (tendered at $300,000); P Brian Moorman (tendered at $375,000; had breakout season and giving him a long-term deal wouldn't be unwise).

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: WR Charles Johnson (UFA; $655,000/1 yr, no SB; 2003 cap: $450,000); LB DaShon Polk (RFA; $605,000/1 yr).

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: DT Sam Adams (FA Raiders; $10.248M/4 yrs, $1.5M SB; 2003 cap: $1.375M); TE Mark Campbell (trade Browns); FB Sam Gash (UFA Ravens; terms unknown); PK Rian Lindell (RFA Seahawks; $4.2M/4 yrs, $1.25M SB); DE Keith McKenzie (FA; $680,0001/ yr, $25,000 SB; 2003 cap: $465,000); OLB Jeff Posey (UFA Texans; $6.425M/4 yrs; $1.75M SB; 2003 cap: $1.012M); S Izell Reese (UFA Broncos; terms unknown); WR Bobby Shaw (UFA Jaguars; $2.68M/3 yrs, SB unknown); LB Takeo Spikes (TFA Bengals; $32M/6 yrs, $9M SB/$1.5M option bonus '04; 2003 cap: $2.5M).

PLAYERS LOST: RB Shawn Bryson (UFA Lions; terms unknown); FB Larry Centers (cut); PK Mike Hollis (UFA Giants; 5 yrs, terms unknown); SS Billy Jenkins (cut); LB Greg Favors (UFA Panthers; $530,000/1 yr); LB Keith Newman (UFA Falcons; $3.4M/3 yrs, SB unknown); WR Peerless Price (Franchise FA traded Falcons); TE Jay Riemersma (cut); LB Eddie Robinson (cut).

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.


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