Black could have been something

Avion Black is now a Houston Texan. The Bills never got close to utilizing Black's speed. He could have been an excellent kick returner. In fact, against the Saints on opening day last season, he ran a punt back 34 yards. Unfortunately, he had one man to beat – the punter, who ended up tackling him. Still, it was among the best drive starts the Bills had on offense all season.


After that game, Gregg Williams lamented the fact that Black had to take that return all the way; that he couldn't afford to let the punter tackle him – not after he had beaten everyone else.

So guess how many times Black returned punts after that? Zero. That's tough love. Black is talented. He's a little temperamental. He still could have done more for the Bills …

I think the Bills' only hope to get Sam Cowart back is to tag and bag him with the franchise or transition label. With either, Cowart still can test the market if he refuses to sign. However, under the franchise label, another team would have to compensate the Bills with two first-round picks. And under the transition label, Buffalo would have the right to match any offer …

Here's a look at everyone the Bills have signed so far this off-season, along with an interesting fact about each:

  • WR Reggie Allen, 6'0, 187 – allocated to NFL Europe … Allen caught 24 passes for 371 yards and seven touchdowns in five games for the AFL's Buffalo Destroyers last season. He also returned 16 kicks for 351 yards and a touchdown … A four-year starter at Central Michigan University, Allen holds the school record for receiving yards with 3,242 and receptions with 192.
  • WR Scott Keys, 6'1", 196 – allocated to NFL Europe, wrote the "Star Spangled Banner" … Hahahahah, just kidding, that was Francis Scott Keyes … Released by the Eagles in 2001 training camp … transferred from McNeese State to Stephen F. Austin. We just don't know what kind of player he is.
  • S Chad Sears, 6'0", 204, allocated to NFL Europe … from North Alabama, where ex-Bill Bobby Collins came from … CBS Sportsline ranked him as the 36th-best strong safety of last year's draft … He ran a 4.6 40-yard dash.
  • DT Demetrious Maxie, 6'2", 290 – was a CFL all-star with Toronto and Saskatchewan in 1999 and 2000 when he totaled 11 sacks each year.
  • DE James Cotton, 6'2", 250 – nine sacks for the CFL Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders … CBS Sportsline ranked him the 23rd-best defensive end in the 2000 draft ... came out of Ohio State … probably too light to be a full-time NFL defensive end, so he'll likely be a weakside linebacker, where he played in college, before switching to defensive end his senior year.
  • CB Jason Bostic, 5'9", 281 – played with Travares Tillman at Georgia Tech, small, pretty good special teams player, may be a nickel or dime guy …
  • C Michael Early, 6'2", 320 – Will be facing his final chance at the NFL, at least with Buffalo.
  • DT DeVonte Peterson, 6'2", 275 – allocated to NFL Europe, needed some polishing, as I remember, judging from his Bills camp last year, but I don't remember thinking that he wasn't without some talent.
  • C Tom Schau, 6'4", 290 – Smart, aggressive and was good in pass protection at Illinois but was undrafted in '99 … was cut by Green Bay last season … may be at point in development where all the learning at the NFL level – he was on the Saints and Packers practice squads – will begin to pay off. Then again, that could be overly optimistic.
  • G Robert Hunt, 6'3", 309 – Bucs' seventh round draft pick in '99 draft … has spent time with Bucs, Saints and Chiefs. May be at point of development like Schau.
  • WR Andre Rone, 5'11", 175 – Smallish wide receiver, may be better suited as a returner … led the 1999 Berline Thunder with 39 receptions for 430 yards and two touchdowns.

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