Bills make Evans a contract offer

Buffalo may be close to locking up its star wide receiver for the long-term.

One of Buffalo's biggest lingering concerns may be put to rest soon, as wide receiver Lee Evans confirmed Monday that the Bills have offered him a contract. A extension would prevent Evans from hitting the open free agency market following the 2008 season.

Evans is currently in the final year of the five-year contract he signed with Buffalo after being selected 13th overall in the 2004 draft.

The team's No. 1 wideout didn't disclose details on Buffalo's offer, but it is probably close to what Larry Fitzgerald received from the Arizona Cardinals in March. Fitzgerald - a two-time Pro-Bowler - inked a four-year, $40 million deal ($30 million guaranteed).

For now, the Bills are staying mum.

"We have been involved in negotiations with his agent, but per team policy, we don't discuss details," Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold said. "Our position regarding Lee has been consistent in that we want him to remain as a Buffalo Bill."

Evans had a breakout season in 2006, racking up 1,292 yards on 82 catches. But last season his production took a steep decline. Evans only had 55 receptions for 849 yards and five touchdowns, as Buffalo's offense finished 30th in the NFL.

He isn't shy about showing his frustration with the team's offense, yet sees promise.

"It can't get too much worse," said Evans (a J.P. Losman supporter last season) following Buffalo's first voluntary organized practice Monday. "With the talent we have on offense, we certainly have the ability to be as good as we want to be. The biggest thing for us now is to gain confidence. If we can do that, we'll be a very good offensive team."

If Evans re-signs, the Bills could develop a formidable 1-2 combo at wide receiver after drafting 6-foot-6 James Hardy in the second round. On paper, it appears the possession receiver Hardy and deep-threat Evans should drastically help the Bills' anemic offense improve.

Quick Take

Good move by Russ Brandon and the Bills to address this situation now instead of mid-season when things could get messy. Evans certainly will demand big bucks after seeing the contract Fitzgerald received nearly three months ago.

But still, Evans isn't Fitzgerald. Outside of 2006, he hasn't dominated games in a $8-10 million per year manner. Buffalo shouldn't spill too much money in Evans' direction, although they're obligated to grant him an extension. The Bills' receiving corps is extremely thin.

Obviously, a deal is imminent. Evans wouldn't be talking if something wasn't in the works. It will be interesting to see how much Buffalo invests in him - the new front office team has been reluctant to dish big bucks to offensive skill position players. Hopefully, it's not a cap-killing contract, because Evans isn't at a Moss/Owens/Fitzgerald/Driver level. Yet.

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