Riemersma all but says goodbye

Whatever strides the Bills make toward reaching the playoffs after next season, it's not likely that Jay Riemersma will be walking along with them.

Before head coach Gregg Williams made a post-mortem state of the Bills address to the media Monday, Riemersma made what amounted to a farewell address.

"It's a lot harder today than I thought it would be," said the tight end. He has one year remaining on his contract, but he seemed resigned to the fact that the Bills wouldn't bring him back even if he agreed to restructure the deal that is scheduled to pay him $3.5 million in 2003.

"Based on my production and my role in this offense, I wouldn't count on coming back," he said. After catching a career-high 53 passes for 590 yards and three touchdowns in 2001, Riemersma finished this season with 32 receptions for 350 yards and no scores even though he played in every game and started 15.

"We underutilized him," quarterback Drew Bledsoe admitted. "He's a valuable weapon. I would love to have him back."

Bills management might not agree with Bledsoe – at any price.

Though Riemersma didn't criticize team president Tom Donahoe directly, the 29-year-old in his seventh season in Buffalo clearly was upset with what he thought was some misinformation about him.

"You heard a lot about me not being willing to help out on the salary cap. I was willing to give back two million (dollars). That wasn't enough in their eyes. Everyone put out that Jay's agent (Jack Wirth) wouldn't talk with the Bills, but they were not willing to negotiate long term."

Riemersma was particularly upset about speculation before the season began that he faced the possibility of being released.

"The speculation was true. It was difficult not knowing if I would be on the field two days later. Len Pasquarelli reported on espn.com that I had a private meeting with Tom Donahoe. Well, I didn't tell him about it."

A seventh-round draft choice in 1996, Riemersma said even though he had hoped to play his entire career with the Bills, it isn't over in any case. "Nobody can look at me and say my skills are diminishing or I've slowed down. I'm still capable of being a starting tight end."

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