Moulds' Hour Glass Is Up?

Eric Moulds' ten-year career with the Buffalo Bills is just mere days, perhaps hours from being finished. Harry Henderson, agent for Moulds indicated on a Buffalo television station that Moulds at this juncture has "no interest in taking any kind of pay cut." Coupled with general manager Marv Levy's admission that he's been unable to even get a hold of Moulds to discuss a restructure all but guarantees his stay with the team is done with.


Moulds is set to count $10.85 million against the salary cap. To remain realistically his salary would have to be cut at least in half, if note further. Releasing him will extricate the Bills about $5.5 million.

With the release of four-year tackle Mike Williams days ago, Buffalo will be around $10.2 million under the cap.

Along with the likely failure a collective bargaining agreement will be expanded, salary cap space is more invaluable this year than ever before. An uncapped year in 2007 means the biggest difference is teams will only be able to offer four-year contracts contrary to six. That's two less years to spread out bonuses, which make cap hits higher the first few years of a contract.

Moulds is second all-time in most of Buffalo's receiving categories, including receptions (675), yards (9091) and touchdowns (750). He's led the club in receptions the past eight years and is a three time Pro Bowler.

While the conspicuous unwillingness to take any type of pay cut will not sit well with Bills fans, it's hard to dispute his motivation to leave. He's been one of the best receivers in the NFL for several seasons despite a revolving door of starting quarterbacks throughout his tenure. He's seen 10 different starters and hasn't played in a playoff game since 2000.

Last year was his most frustrating season. Many conclude Moulds was the leader of a core of veterans that basically threw first-time starter J.P. Losman "under the bus" after only four games. Moulds also had problems with management as his rifts with head coach Mike Mularkey and receivers coach Tyke Tolbert led to a one-game suspension, a benching that ultimately could've been the final straw.

Many will recall Moulds as selfish due to the way last season played out and his stubbornness to restructure now. In his defense. it should be noted that as a free agent in 2001, coming off the best year of his career, he resigned with Buffalo in spite of being offered more money by Minnesota.

You can dispute Moulds on a variety of things, but nobody can question his durability. He's missed only five of 154 games because of injury in ten years.

With his pending free agency now looming, a slew of teams will line up with intrigue. Philadelphia, Dallas and San Diego will appear as front runners but he'll also attract interest from Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota and Cleveland to name a few.

Part of Moulds' rationale for refusing a pay cut, at least what he'll tell you publicly is a desire to compete for a championship. That makes Philadelphia, Dallas and San Diego as the favorites. A reunion with Drew Bledsoe in Dallas could emerge as the first choice.
But Cleveland is in great salary cap shape and will be in the market for a receiver to work with Braylon Edwards. Detroit, despite an overflow of high draft pick receivers have colossal cap flexibility and new coordinator Mike Martz would love a reliable receiver like Moulds. He would be the Lions version of Issac Bruce.

Rumors will soar the next few weeks over his next destination but only thing appears to be a lock... Moulds won't be back in Buffalo.

MORE CUTS TO COME

Don't expect Moulds to be the only Bill to be served walking papers over the next several days.

Levy appeared on Sirius Radio with Pat Kirwin and didn't give a ringing recommendation for the futures of Sam Adams and Troy Vincent.

When asked about Adams,set to count nearly $3.9 against the cap, Levy insinuated the Bills new defensive scheme does not properly fit Adams' style.

"Sam is strong at the 3-4," Levy said. "We want a fly to the ball kind of four-man front. That's what the coaches tell me."

Levy has established several times since returning to Buffalo he values high character guys and Adams is unlikely to fit under his particulars. Releasing Adams saves the team $3.5 million against the cap, but leaves two tackle positions that need to be filled by way of free agency or the draft.

One tackle set to hit the market who seems to harmonize with new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's blueprint is Seattle's Rocky Bernard. At 293 pounds Bernard is almost 40 pounds lighter than Adams and had 8.5 sacks this past year. He'll likely command around the same money the Bills are paying Adams now.

Kendrick Clancy (Giants) and Larry Tripplett (Colts) are other free agent possibilities.
If the Bills cut Moulds and Adams they'll be under the cap by close to $14 million, after already franchising Nate Clements.

If Buffalo severs ties with Adams because of the defensive scheme they're looking to employ, it sheds doubt on Buffalo drafting Haloti Ngata with the eighth pick. Ngata is considered much the same breed of player as Adams.

The draft is also stocked with defensive tackles that Buffalo may have interest in the second or third rounds.

As for Vincent, Levy alluded to him (and Adams) as "getting older" and "getting to that age wall."

Cutting Vincent doesn't seem as financially ingenious as Adams. They'll save $800k in cap space but be forced to eat $2.4 million in dead cap space if they do. Anticipate him to stick around for now while Buffalo explores other alternatives between March 3 and the draft.
There's other Bills who may get the pink slip over the next week. In other years the team might be more inclined to wait things out through camp, but with next year looking like a non-capped year, money to spend this spring is more weighty than ever.

Some who may go soon:

Mark Campbell: The Bills could shave $1million with his release. Kevin Everett is likely to take over at tight end and even he can't, Tim Euhus comes over $700k cheaper.

Lawyer Milloy: Cutting him would save $2.5 million but Buffalo has no current safety ready to take his place. He's entering the final year of his contract and his age (32) makes it improbable Buffalo wants to extend beyond ‘06. Expect Milloy to stay put for now while Buffalo sees if they can upgrade through free agency or early in the draft.

Bennie Anderson: Highly questionable he'll be back at starting guard next year and cutting him will save the club $800k.

Jeff Posey: By all accounts, Buffalo counts on Takeo Spikes to be ready by training camp. Angelo Crowell was awarded a new contract last year and that makes Posey and his $2.2 million cap figure expendable. Releasing him will save $1.75 million.

BUCKLE YOUR SEAT BELTS
This figures to be one of Buffalo's most vigorous and consequential off seasons in modern memory.

By the time March 3 comes the Bills are likely to be in the market for starters in at least five positions; left tackle and guard, wide receiver and two defensive tackles. They'll also be exploring opportunity at both safety positions.

Ideally the Bills would like to have experience on the left side of the offensive line. Every team in the league is enamored with rookie prospect D'Brickshaw Ferguson. The reality is he's highly unlikely to be on the board when Buffalo picks. Jeff Backus seemed like a logical option but was tagged by Detroit. Jon Runyan would be a good fit but will overprice himself out of Levy's range. Jason Fabini was cut by the New York Jets for cap reasons and could be a realistic choice. His cost would be around the same the team saved by cutting Williams. There is no tackle entering the draft oustide Ferguson worthy of a number eight pick.

LeCharles Bentley is the top guard on the market with Steve Hutchinson being franchised. Buffalo will make a run on him but odds are slim to none he'll end up in a Bills uniform. Cleveland has a lot more cap space to work with, is said to be absorbed in him and Bentley is from the area and has said he'd love to play there.

The market for guards outside of Bentley/Hutchinson is weak and Buffalo could look for a guard on day one of the draft.

While saving money with Moulds puts Buffalo in much better cap shape, replacing him on the field won't be elementary. With pressing needs on both sides of the line, Buffalo is in no position to spend $4-5 million on a second receiver. Reche Caldwell, Corey Bradford and Dez White could be viable options, or Levy could decide Josh Reed should be brought back. Antonio Bryant, David Givens and Nate Burleson are more productive but probably come with too costly a price tag. One thing is certain; Roscoe Parrish is not a starting next year.

DRAFT NEEDS IMPACT PLAYER
Every Bills fan will be eating their vitamins and saying their prayers that either Ferguson, Mario Williams or AJ Hawk slides down to eight. Don't bet the mortgage on it. Unless something extraordinary happens all will be gone. Ngata doesn't fit the program Levy is referring to since Adams doesn't either, so drafting him would seem senseless.
If Buffalo can address the majority of their interior line problems through free agency the options with the first draft choice greatly increases.

Under that scenario, Levy can do what he likes to do best- take the player he likes best regardless of position. The sensible choice then would be to go safety with the first pick. Both Michael Huff and Jimmy Williams could be on the board and both are known as great cover guys, which plays into Buffalo's new cover two defense. Both are also extremely physical.

Or Buffalo could throw everyone a curve and go with Vernon Davis, a tight end from Maryland who's been compared repeatedly to Shannon Sharpe. It's not a need pick on the surface, but it would take the sting of losing Moulds from the passing game. If Davis is as good as advertised he gives the Bills a weapon they've never had before at the position. It's also conceivable the Bills could move down 5-6 spots, pick up an extra pick and still land Davis.

Round two appears destined for a guard. Max Jean Giles, Davin Joseph and Charles Spencer are the three best guards on most boards and at least one is almost assured to be on the board when Buffalo picks.

Defensive tackle is deep for a contributor in round three.

It's still February but three things are unmistakable at One Bills Drive; Moulds is leaving, more are to follow and this is going to be a very lively March and April.

(Billszone.com)


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