I spoke with a source this morning that tells me the Buffalo Bills are not confident Laveranues Coles is going to sign with the team, and that the club is prepared to investigate other options for landing a number two receiver alongside Lee Evans.
What's known is the Bills have an offer on the table to Coles. What's not is how much the offer is for and how many years, although I'm told it's for three years for around $18 million. According to the source, Roosevelt Barnes, the agent for Coles is seeking a deal of $25 million over four years with at least $10 million guaranteed. Coles left $6 million on the table with the New York Jets last week to become a free agent. He's to arrive in Cincinnati this morning and a decision between the Bengals and Bills should come by late this afternoon.
The Bengals are looking toward Coles as a replace for T.J. Houshmandzadeh after he inked a 5-year, $40 million contract with Seattle yesterday.
I'm told the Bills are still hopeful to land Coles and up until now are the only club to make him an offer, but they're not prepared to get into a bidding war with the 31-year old. If the Bengals offer Coles a fourth year, than I expect him to be a Bengal before the end of the day.
Meanwhile, free agent cornerback Jabari Greer is still on the market after leaving Tampa Bay without a contract Monday.
The Bills have an offer that's been on the table since last week. While Greer has drawn interest from several teams, he's been unable to land a deal on par with other cornerback signings. New Orleans and Denver may still be in the mix.
The Bills are also still in talks with cornerback Drayton Florence. With Buffalo looking to add a corner with Terrence McGee and first round pick Leodis McKelvin in tow, it's likely the Bills are getting ready to let McGee walk when he becomes a free agent following the season. Paying for Greer or Florence now will be less expensive than it'll cost to keep McGee next year.
I've also heard the club is still in contact with guard Kendall Simmons, who visited the club last Friday and as I reported two days ago, the team is interested in Kansas City Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters.
As of early this morning, the Bills don't have any visits scheduled for today. I'm told they're looking for resolution on Coles and Greer/Florence so they can proceed with a Plan B.
How much the Bills spend in free agency may come down to Jason Peters. Russ Brandon has exchanged proposals with Peters agent, Eugene Parker. According to a source, Parker has told the Bills he expects Peters to be paid as the AFC's top offensive tackle. Miami's Jake Long currently holds that distinction after the top pick of 2008 signed a 5-year, $57.5 million dollar deal with $30-million guaranteed.
The Bills and owner Ralph Wilson operate under a cash-to-cap, meaning a bonus paid to a player puts the entire bonus into this year's salary cap rather than spreading it around throughout the life of the contract. I'm told a desire to extend Peters at least in small part is why the club released Derrick Dockery last week. The move saved the Bills $26.5 million over the final five years of Dockery's contract.
How much the Bills dole out to Peters this year, if they're able to extend him at all, will essentially determine how much the club will be spending on other players. Buffalo would like to upgrade the strong safety position and move Donte Whitner to free safety permanently. Sean Jones and Jermaine Phillips are two highly regarded strong safeties on the free agent market, but the Bills are unlikely to pursue either until they know where they stand financially.