Jabari Greer isn't about to feed fans reassurances. He's well aware that cornerbacks --- even second-tier ones like himself --- command big-time dough on the free agent market.
So, no. Greer didn't regurgitate the I-want-to-be-here line typically echoed by free agents.
"It could go either way," Greer said. "The way I'm going to approach it…any situation can go either way. You could be sitting on pins and needles until you hear something or you could say this is a chance to sit back and focus on what's really important --- my family. That's the way I'm going to approach the off-season."
And the way the Buffalo Bills will (or should) approach this off-season will probably leave Greer in the dust.
Considering Buffalo has a plethora of needs on the other side of the ball and that rookie Leodis McKelvin broke out as a starter when Greer was injured, it's hard to imagine the UFA is atop Buffalo's wish list. The logic just isn't there. New York Giants' cornerback Corey Webster, a cornerback on par with Greer, set a bar that'll exceed Buffalo's budget. In mid-December, the Giants re-signed Webster to a five-year, $43.5 million deal with $20 million guaranteed.
Gulp. Hard to see the Bills retaining Greer at this pay check. The league is full of cornerback-starved teams that will take the bait on potential. Twenty-three of 32 teams in the NFL allowed at least 200 yards passing per game. The biggest splash in the last two free agency periods were cornerbacks (Nate Clements, Asante Samuel). The market for cornerbacks is rich again, but look for Greer to find a new home somewhere.
And deservedly, so. In his second season as a starter, Greer further enhanced his value. He missed Buffalo's final six games due to a knee injury. But in action, he was a lockdown corner with a knack for making big plays. Greer's interception for a touchdown at St. Louis completely shifted the momentum of that game, and he later picked off Brett Favre for a touchdown against the Jets. And dating back to 2007, his break-up on a two-point conversion against Terrell Owens should have been the game-closing incompletion.
In 23 starts the past two years, Greer has 21 pass breakups and four interceptions. Clearly, he's a cornerback on the rise. Look for him to test the market hard. After all, he is an undrafted free agent that worked his way through two minimal contracts already up to this point. Unless the Bills make Greer their top priority, he'll be playing for a different team in 2009.
"That's the business aspect of the game," said Greer on the team site. "Unfortunately it's like that, but you also have a chance to do what's best for your family. And that's what I want to do. I'm not money hungry, but at the same time you have to take care of your own."
The Bills are probably comfortable in the combination of McKelvin, Ashton Youboty and Reggie Corner at cornerback opposite of the steady Terrence McGee. Sure, it'd be advantageous to let McKelvin focus solely on the return game where he averaged 28.2 yards per kick return (3rd in NFL). Chicago's Devin Hester saw his return numbers plummet when the Bears vaulted him into their No. 1 WR role this past year. Dick Jauron has to have a similar fear.
But still, McKelvin is too fast and too explosive to keep useless on the sideline. His interception returned for a touchdown at Kansas City all but sealed his starting spot at cornerback next season. Youtboty was having a breakout year at nickel before a season-ending injury and the fourth-round pick Corner won the game for Buffalo at Denver by punching the ball out of Brandon Stokely's hands in the end zone.
For the dollar amount Greer will command, it's simply not worth it. The Bills have far too many deficiencies on offense to offer a career deal to their rising corner. Sad, but true.
Greer never made a fuss about Buffalo's fervent effort to stockpile cornerbacks last offseason. Russ Brandon picked up veteran Will James and drafted McKelvin to presumably fight for the starting cornerback spot opposite of Terrence McGee. Greer simply played at his high level and fended off the competition to earn the No. 2 job.
The off-season acquisitions haven't been forgotten.
"My mom always told me, ‘Jabari, what's yours is yours and nobody can ever take that away from you.' Not only when they drafted Leodis or they brought in Will (James) in the offseason," he said. "There have been so many things that have been stacked against me. Through it all she's always told me what's meant for you is meant for you. So what's meant for me in the future in this game is going to be for me. If it's meant for me to be one of those guys that's blessed with the ability to provide for my family then it's going to happen. And I hope it does."
Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of the Buffalo Football Report and also writes for The Packer Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org..