April 10, 12:09 a.m. (EST)
Coming up on BFR Thursday/Friday
Malcolm Kelly drastically hurt his draft stock. Find out why, and how it affects the Bills' draft strategy. Complete coverage coming soon.
Ryan Denney Injury Update/Analysis
Kevin Everett Update
March 28, 12:25 a.m. (EST)
Here's what we're looking at this weekend guys...
- The one, specific role player Buffalo sorely lacked in '07
- The Bills are zeroing in on one wide receiver, most fans probably aren't considering. We'll say who and provide a scouting report.
- The Parrish-McGee Effect: The Bills' go-to combo
And more. Stay tuned.
March 26, 9:31 p.m. (EST)
Stamer signs with Tennessee
The Titans signed Buffalo free agent linebacker Josh Stamer today. Stamer played in 70 games for the Bills in five seasons. Last year he was second on the team in special teams tackles with 15.
Buffalo just couldn't give Stamer the chance at the promotion he probably wanted. With Paul Posloszny returning from injury and the addition of Kawika Mitchell, there wasn't much hope for Stamer in Buffalo.
March 26, 3:35 p.m. (EST)
Hall signs with Rams
Defensive end James Hall visited with Buffalo, and seemed a natural signing. The Bills could use fresh legs to relieve Chris Kelsay on third downs. But that possibility was thwarted Tuesday, as Hall signed back with St. Louis to a two-year deal.
The Rams cut Hall before having to pay him a $500,000 roster bonus. After briefly testing the waters, Hall will return to St. Louis. Last season, Hall had 59 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He also recorded a team-high 20 quarterback pressures.
It's assumed this is what intrigued the Bills. Last season, Kelsay and Aaron Schobel were dreadful rushing the passer, combining for only 8.5 sacks. Buffalo appears to be in the market for a speed rusher, which may be found in April's draft.
We'll break down some possibilities in the future.
March 22, 11:16 p.m. (EST)
What's coming next on the BFR Sunday and Monday...
Defensive Line Review - Will Schobel and Kelsay rebound? Can Stroud stay healthy?
Defensive Back Review - An ultra-green unit added some experience this off-season, but is it enough?
Next column - Make or Break Year. An in-depth look at which Bills players must step up in '08
And of course, more top-notch draft coverage from Scout.com's elite team of experts.
March 21, 11:05 a.m. (EST)
Another CB comes in for a visit
Oakland's Chris Carr is visiting Buffalo today. More on this later.
He's 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, and know for a sense of untapped potential. In three seasons he has 55 tackles and one interception. Carr joined the Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of Boise State.
Carr's claim to fame is picking off Ben Roethlisberger and taking it to the house for a 100-yard touchdown. It was the second longest interception return in Oakland history.
We'll get up more info on Carr's visit and the implications late today on the BFR.
March 20, 6:06 p.m. (EST)
First Toronto game is set
Well, it's official. The Bills' first opponent in Toronto will be Pittsburgh in the upcoming preseason.
The Canadian excursion will be the first of eight "home" games for Buffalo in Toronto over the next five years.
As all Bills know, these are scary times in Orchard Park. Team owner Ralph Wilson is 89 years old, and speculation about the Bills moving for good to Toronto has ran rampant. When Wilson dies, it may take a wealthy Western New Yorker to swoop in with bags of money to save the franchise.
But for now, tension will stay at Code Orange. The Bills are still in Buffalo, but how successful the Toronto games are (ticket sales, fan interest, etc...) may increase anxiety.
Here's what the commish, Roger Goodell, had to say about it all, two days before the Super Bowl:
"I think it was done to help regionalize the team on an even broader scale than they have. They have regionalized throughout western New York and that's helped the team be more successful from a business standpoint and marketing themselves more effectively. They have a tremendous amount of interest north into Canada and the Hamilton-Toronto area."
March 18, 10:19 a.m. (EST)
What's Next on the BFR...
- Bills scouts attend obscure pro day. Find out their targeted player later....
- Worth the Investment? Lee Evans may have a big contract coming.
- More Position Reviews...
March 17, 9:12 p.m. (EST)
Weak Crop of Free Agents Left
Well. This is it. We're two weeks into free agency and the cupboard has been picked bone dry. It seems like every season, the free agency period amps up five more mphs. If a G.M. is a second slow, too bad.
Give Buffalo's front office credit for being aggressive. In the first couple days, Buffalo added three contributors immediately to the defense, the best (Marcus Stroud) via a trade.
Still, the offense was ignored. Tight end Courtney Anderson was the only addition, and he was someone no other team really wanted. The Bills are content with watching youth grow at the skill positions, which are surrounded by a very strong offensive line (see Monday's cover story).
But if they'd still like to add a veteran or too, here are a couple available...
Kevin Jones - Not going to happen. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson could see 30-35 combined carries a game, and the Bills still like Dwayne Wright. Jones will latch on somewhere as a between-the-tackles back, but not Buffalo.
Darrell Jackson - It will be tempting to sign Jackson. He had multiple 1,000-yard seasons in Seattle as the No. 1 WR in Seattle's West Coast offense. But at this point, the Bills will probably wait for the draft at WR. Jackson has Lonnie Johnson hands. Like the former Bills tight end, he routinely makes the crucial drop to kill drives. Jackson's career is statistically on a downward spiral. Unless Buffalo gets him cheap, Jackson will probably be passed up.
Eddie Kennison - The 12-year vet has 548 career receptions, 8,345 yards and 42 touchdowns. But this isn't 1998. Kennison's career is probably done. Especially with this new venture - http://www.kansascity.com/news/columnists/steve_penn/story/515780.html
In other words, Buffalo is most likely finished signing offensive free agents. There just isn't much out there. Luckily, the Bills struck when the getting was good and upgraded the defense. Just don't expect a ton of "Shout!" songs at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
March 17, 1:53 p.m. (EST)
Hackett Signs with Carolina
Scout.com's Adam Caplan reported today that the Carolina Panthers signed WR D.J. Hackett.
See his front page story for details.
Buffalo's WR options are virtually nil in free agency now. If the Bills are seeking a veteran addition, the best option would be to facilitate a trade or pick up recently cut wideout Darrell Jackson.
We'll break down some options/scenarios tomorrow on the BFR.
March 15, 9:49 p.m. (EST)
Saturday Extra Points
Nothing new on the free agency front one day after Bryant Johnson left for San Francisco. On Sirius NFL Radio, Johnson said money was the main reason he didn't wind up in Buffalo. He was unhappy with the Bills' initial offer, countered with a shorter deal and Buffalo didn't budge. So San Fran it is for Arizona's former No. 3 wideout.
Johnson's career is smack at a crossroads this season. In a contract year, he has the opportunity to grab a No. 1 WR role on a shady bunch of receivers, and earn a big payday next spring. Or he will toil into mediocrity as every wide receiver has done in San Francisco since Terrell Owens left.
Speaking of T.O., Owens' former crony in Philadelphia, Freddie Mitchell, offered the national joke of the week on Thursday. He attended UCLA's Pro Day to lobby for a pro comeback. Other than one 4th and 26 playoff catch against Green Bay in the playoffs, Mitchell's NFL career has been a complete parody.
With the talent of a NFL Europa practice-squadrant and the pseudo-cockiness of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Mitchell (a 2001 first round pick) flamed out with the Eagles after four seasons. He never caught more than 35 passes in a season, and couldn't beat out the immortal Todd Pinkston and James Thrash for playing time. He labeled himself "The People's Champ," "Fred Ex," and "First-Down Freddie." Before Philly's Super Bowl bout with New England, he said he knew the numbers but not the names of the Patriots' cornerbacks...which is the NFL equivalent of poking a lion with a stick while he's sleeping. But Mitchell took it even further. He smirked and said that he "has something" for Rodney Harrison.
And Mitchell proceeded to catch a whopping one pass for 11 yards.
But that's not why Mitchell was cut loose by Philadelphia. Oh no. It was deeper than actual production .
"Me and T.O. were the best of friends, and that hurt my relationship with Donovan," said Mitchell on Thursday. "There were issues between me and Donovan."
And Fred Ex even put on his philosophical hat.
"Success is situational," he told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times . "The right coach can take an average receiver and put him in the Pro Bowl."
Translation: I stink. I'm desperate. Please have mercy. Give me a chance.
March 14, 11:56 a.m. (EST)
Bryant Johnson signs with 'Niners
A source told ESPN.com that San Francisco has signed free agent wide receiver Bryant Johnson to a one-year deal. More on this soon.
March 14, 11:30 a.m. (EST)
Hackett Declines Offer
Wide receiver D.J. Hackett turned down an offer from Washington. Now, Tampa Bay and Carolina are his next best landing spots. He'll visit Tampa Bay today and Carolina on Friday.
Here's thinking Hackett will flop wherever he winds up. In Seattle, he benefited from a WR-friendly, West Coast offense, and he really only had one decent season. In 2006, Hackett caught 45 passes for 610 yards and four touchdowns. Last year he suffered a high ankle sprain... twice. It's not like he was a bonafide receiver.
So, why bother?
Hackett and his agent Kevin Williams must be looking for excessive dough after turning down the Redskins' offer. Buffalo is smart for not even pursuing Hackett. He's injury-prone, and unproven - not a favorable mix. At least in Bryant Johnson, you know what you're getting. A solid, if not spectacular, possession receiver.
Figuring out how much to pay for Johnson is the question.
March 13, 6:03 p.m. (EST)
Adding veterans to defense a good idea
When injuries ravaged Buffalo's defense last season, first- and second-year, virtual no-names were shoved onto the field. Buffalo rode a fine line off the get-go, with two sophomores at safety and a raw batch of corners. When Jason Webster and Ko Simpson were lost for the season, there was no veteran crutch to fall back on.
Russ Brandon and co. are doing the right thing.
They didn't punch in their cards after the initial free agency wave. The Bills' brass is still picking and poking around a dry FA pool for talent. William James and James Hall are two vets (combined 15 years of experience) that could fill specific roles on the team. In a pass rushing role, Hall relieves Chris Kelsay of third-down duties. When healthy, Hall is a force. The corner James would be a reliable nickel man at worst. He's a inch taller and 20 pounds heavier than Jabari Greer also.
Both players have suffered nagging injuries the past 2-4 years, which is surely hurting their value in the open market. Good news for Buffalo. The Bills could probably sign both James and Hall at a flea-market-cheap price if they choose.
Stay tuned to the BFR for updates.
March 12, 10:13 p.m. (EST)
Bills Mock Draft Is Up!
Check out this year's first all-Bills mock draft. Included is Malcolm Kelly's interview. Sound off your opinions on the message board under "Bills Mock."
March 12, 4:50 p.m. (EST)
Bills Mock Draft Tonight
Be sure to check out the BFR tonight for Buffalo Bills Mock Draft 1.0, equipped with a video of Buffalo's highly possible first round pick!
March 12, 1:00 p.m. (EST)
Johnson decision could come soon
The Nashville Tennessean reported that FA WR Bryant Johnson's agent has had discussions with the Tennessee Titans, who like Buffalo, is in desperate need of a receiver.
Also, Adam Schefter on NFL Network said this morning that he expects Johnson to land somewhere in the next couple days. Buffalo remains the only place Johnson has traveled to in person.
Johnson and D.J. Hackett are the last remaining high-profile WR free agents on the market. Buffalo hasn't made much of an effort at Hackett, but adding Johnson makes a lot of sense. He's the big, physical WR the receiving corps lacks (Buffalo's top four wideouts last year were all under six-feet tall). Trent Edwards is a short-distance passer, which suits Johnson's game. Last season, the '03 first round pick (17th overall) caught 46 balls for 528 yards and 2 TD in Arizona.
So, what's it going to be B.J.? Trent or Vince? Country music or chicken wings? Whoever is willing to cough up the most dough to Johnson will probably get his John Hancock.
Keep checking the BFR for more.
March 11, 11:43 p.m. (EST)
Thoughts on Anderson signing
Buffalo did one of two things Monday, both of which may not even matter in the end. In signing TE Courtney Anderson to a low-risk, two-year contract, the Bills either found the answer to their receiving woes at tight end or simply added another borderline NFL roster player to a weak TE bunch.
Anderson easily could become Trent Edwards' go-to guy. Edwards showed last year that he prefers to throw to his tight ends, often looking for Robert Royal and Michael Gaines. Anderson is twice the athlete and physical speciman that these two are. The cheap acquisition (no official terms yet) could prove genius... or Anderson could completely strike out on his last shot at a starting role and the Bills' brass will wish they pursued Ben Troupe or Alge Crumpler a little harder.
Time will tell.
But regardless of Alexander's signing, Buffalo will draft a tight end in April. There are multiple TEs worthy of a 2nd or 3rd round pick, including USC's Fred Davis, who would be a perfect fit in Buffalo's dink-n-dunk system. The Bills may hop on a receiver binge and go WR-TE-WR in the first three rounds. With the defense shored up in free agency, such a scenario isn't so crazy. The position needs a lethal shot of youth and explosiveness. The draft is the place to do it.
Still, securing Alexander's services is a good place to start. It's a low-risk, high-reward addition, considering the high possibility of Buffalo also adding a rookie TE.
Someone would have to emerge from a 5-7 TE heap by September...right?
March 11, 3:29 p.m. (EST)
CB Visit Planned
Philadelphia free agent cornerback William James will visit Buffalo Wednesday, James' agent confirmed. James' has also drawn interest from Baltimore, but no visit is planned there.
Stay connected to the BFR for more updates.
March 10, 2:10 p.m. (EST)
Buffalo signed tight end Courtney Anderson today. Keep checking the BFR for more news and analysis on this key offensive addition.
March 9, 10:50 p.m. (EST)
Matt Ryan/Dolphins Update
Don't worry, this won't evolve into a Dolphins Blog. But as a follow-up to the previous post, SI.com's "truth&rumors" says that Miami requested a private interview with Matt Ryan after BC's March 18 Pro Day. Of course, every team in the top five...every draft...loves to blow smoke screens and send false messages this time of year. In a tug-of-war for trade leverage, such interviews are common. But so far this spring it appears as if the Dolphins are genuinely leaning toward Ryan. A McCown-Beck-Ryan battle royale is awaiting.
If only the Dolphins drafted Brady Quinn instead of Ted Ginn Jr........
March 9, 6:50 p.m. (EST)
Fins' Quarterback Battle in Stage One
Since Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season, 12 quarterbacks have tried and failed to latch on as the Miami Dolphins' quarterback. Lucky No. 13 may be Josh McCown, who signed a two-year contract with Miami Friday. He's expected to compete with '07 second-round pick John Beck.
Last year, McCown started nine games for Oakland, where he threw 10 touchdowns and 11 picks. Miami will be his fourth team since beginning his career at Arizona in 2002.
The Fins also may draft Boston College's Matt Ryan with the first overall pick, which would create a 3-headed QB race. Such an approach isn't new in South Florida. Just last year, Trent Green, Cleo Lemon and Beck all started for Miami at some point in the team's miserable 1-15 flirtation with imperfection.
In a weak pool of free agent quarterbacks, Miami was sort of forced into signing a player of McCown's caliber. New boss Bill Parcells would no doubt love to trade out of the first pick. There isn't a slam dunk, consensus No. 1 pick this season. If Parcells is stuck at No. 1, Ryan could very well be the choice. He's tough, smart and showed clutch leadership at BC. For a good read, check out The Sporting News issue this week, which features Ryan on the cover.
But rookie quarterbacks rarely make an immediate impact. Look for McCown to enter the season as the starter, even if Josh McCown is, well, Josh McCown. (His career peaked after that 4th-and-forever touchdown to Nate Poole that put Green Bay in the playoffs over Minnesota in '03). Despite the rockiness over the past few seasons at QB, the Bills may have the second-best quarterback situation in the AFC East. The Jets must decide between Kellen Clemens and Chad Pennington, who is set to make $6 million next year. Pennington may look to reunite with Herm Edwards in Kansas City.
March 9, 2:04 p.m. (EST)
McCree off the market
NFL veteran safety Marlon McCree signed with Denver yesterday, along with Marquand Manuel. McCree is expected to challenge John Lynch at strong safety, while Manuel should push Hamza Abdullah at free safety. The double-signing gives Denver one of the most veteran-laden secondaries in the league, where top tier corners Champ Bailey and Dre Bly also roam.
McCree visited the Bills last week, but the two sides couldn't iron out a contract. For now, the Bills must be content with Ko Simpson in deep center with Donte Whitner. Simpson had a stellar rookie season in 2006 with 77 tackles, 4 PD, 1 sack and 2 interceptions. But in Buffalo's '07 opener, Simpson suffered a fractured dislocation of his ankle and missed the entire season. His recovery has been slow, although Simpson has eyed a mid-March return.
Jim Leonhard and George Wilson filled in for Simpson, and held up admirably. Still, Buffalo's pursuit of McCree shows some uncertainty in Simpson's progress. You can bet he'll be under the microscope at minicamp and training camp.
March 8, 3:46 p.m. (EST)
Start thinking QB
J.P. Losman will be gone any day now. And for good reason.
He has had three seasons as a starter (and four total) to justify a starting role. It's laughable to hear the 'he hasn't had an opportunity' rants from Losman and his agent. He has had multiple chances throughout each season and failed. He lacks a built-in ticking clock in his head to know when a pass rushing is coming behind him (one of Trent Edwards' best assets). Losman's feet are jittering in the pocket just as much now as they did in 2004. And as the Jacksonville game last season showed, Losman is prone to the big mistake late in games. The occasional bomb to Lee Evans has been a stat-amplified that hides Losman's many shortcomings.
Buffalo must cut their losses now. Rumors throughout the web say Buffalo could get a third round pick for Losman in a trade. That'd be downright robbery. If any team comes to Russ Brandon and Bills management with such an offer, Buffalo shouldn't think twice.
That being said, the Bills must decide who to pursue as a mentor/backup for Trent Edwards. The cupboard is drier by the day, but a few decent options are available. Gus Frerotte wouldn't be a bad find. He's been in the league for 14 years, mostly in this type of role. As fantasy football owners know, Frerotte can step in and have a 300-yard explosion at a moment's notice. Just three years ago, he threw for 18 touchdowns and only 13 picks for Miami.
Other possibilities include Kelly Holcomb, Byron Leftwich, David Carr and Joey Harrington.
March 8, 3:25 p.m. (EST)Whittle bolsters line
Buffalo's offense may have lacked any type of rhythm last season, as Edwards and Losman traded spots behind center. Steve Fairchild's highly anticipated St. Louis Rams-like offense may have crashed and burned, simply because Buffalo lacked the personnel to pull it. After all, Lee Evans, Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish are not Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Az-Zahir Hakim.
But now the Bills know who they are offensively. Out is Fairchild, who flocked to his alma mater, Colorado State. In is Turk Schonert, last season's QB coach. He knows Edwards' strengths, and as an NFL quarterbacks coach since 1992, he knows a young QB's best friend is a bleed-the-clock running back.
Next season, Buffalo will rely on a group of young, promising backs behind a group of veteran, reliable linemen. Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and Dwayne Wright are three completely different backs with varying styles. Look for Schonert to take a play out of the Tom Coughlin's playbook and feed the ball to multiple backs.
For the first time since Buffalo was a playoff team, there is continuity along the offensive line. Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker were instant upgrades, and Jason Peters is arguably a Top 3 left tackle in the entire NFL.
Securing Whittle for one more season could be the first of a few more additions on the line. Buffalo has a strong starting five, but lacks depth. They may draft one or two linemen in the draft that are versatile. Buffalo needs guys that can play at each position, in case another injury blizzard sweeps through WNY.
Giving Whittle another chance at a very low price is a step in the right direction.
Stay tuned for updates.