Insight into Tom Donahoe

I found this interesting 1999 CNN/ Q&A with Tom Donahoe – when he was the Steelers' general manager. It offers some insight into the way Donahoe operates in his current position with the Bills. Donahoe is pretty much trying to do the same things with the Bills that he did with the Steelers.

Here's what he said about his approach to free agency.

CNN/SI: One of the things that you did was to re-sign your most expensive position, quarterback, before you had a gun to your head. You have a good cap situation there because you didn't do the deal in or even approached the free agent market.

Tom Donahoe: That's right. And Kordell certainly proved last year that he has a bright future. He has a year under his belt and he's signed I believe for three more years. For us, that's a nice position to be in.

CNN/SI: Right. It not only gives you some security at this position for three more years, but it also gives you a chance to re-do his deal prior to the last year of his contract again.

TD: Well, we've tried to do that with players who we've identified as key players. We've tried to talk with them going into the last year of their deals to see if they would be receptive to an extension. In many cases, they have been. As a result, some of our better players have never gotten to free agency. Dermontti Dawson never got to free agency. We signed him twice before he was on the open market. Greg Lloyd never became a free agent. Joel Steed did this time, but not the last time. Carnell Lake never got to free agency. We try to identify the right people. But if they don't want to talk and they're determined to go out and test the market, there's not much you can do about it.

Mike Doser comment: The biggest names the Bills have becoming unrestricted free agents after the 2002 season are Peerless Price, Keith Newman, Sammy Morris, Shawn Bryson and Pierson Prioleau. Don't expect the Bills to try to sign these players in advance so to prevent them from testing the market, as Donahoe explained above. He will want to see the kind of production he gets out of them this season.

Now Price obviously becomes a question mark because the team drafted Josh Reed. If Reed plays as the Bills think he will, Price will probably be expendable. On the other hand, Price will be determined to deliver good numbers this year so he can cash in next off-season. I have a feeling he will have to be a lot more physical this year if he wants to return to Buffalo. Gregg Williams and Tom Donahoe want tough, physical football players and have said so numerous times during the draft.

Newman could be a free agency attraction – especially if he plays as he did two years ago. The obvious teams that would seem interested in Newman would be San Diego (John Butler), New York Jets (Ted Cottrell) and the Atlanta Falcons (Wade Phillips). Newman still hasn't reached the peak of his play and with a better supporting cast, he should be able to do what he does best this season: rush the passer.

Last season, Donahoe met during the year to discuss Sam Cowart's contract. If Cowart had been healthy, he probably would have been a player that Donahoe would have wanted to prevent from going to free agency. Still, it would have been hard to keep Cowart from free agency anyway. He didn't really dig the new administration.

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