Clements tagged

Buffalo Bills starting cornerback Nate Clements has been designated the team's franchise player. The move was expected and allows the Bills to retain the rights to Clements by offering the five-year starter and 2004 Pro Bowl selection a one-year contract worth $5.89 million.

After losing cornerback Antoine Winfield as a free agent last season, the Bills were not going to let Clements test the market without being designated."We consider Nate a valuable member of our defense and believe he will play an important role in re-establishing our defense as one of the toughest units in the league," general manager Marv Levy said in a press release. Levy added he remains optimistic the Bills can negotiate a long-term deal with Clements, who was considered one of the prime defensive backs on the market. Clements' agent, Todd France, said he was not surprised by the Bills' decision.

Although the move makes Clements one of the NFL's top-paid cornerbacks next season, the salary is well below what he envisioned getting when free agency opens March 3. Clements made headlines during training camp last summer, saying he considered himself the NFL's best cornerback and wanted a deal similar to the seven-year, $63 million contract Denver's Champ Bailey signed in 2004.

Selected 21st overall in the 2001 draft out of Ohio State, Clements has 20 career interceptions and started 72 consecutive games since landing the starter's job midway through his rookie season. Clements leads the Bills with six career touchdown returns, including four by interception. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2004 after leading the Bills with six interceptions. 2005 was a down year, finished third on the team with a career-low two interceptions — the first time he failed to lead the Bills in that category — and third with 127 tackles.


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