It appears the marriage between the Buffalo Bills and Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters is rocky again. Buffalo News writer Mark Gaughan published a story that according to league sources, the two are more than $3 million-a-year apart on a contract extension.
Peters looked for a new deal before last season and didn't receive it, ensuing in a hold out lasting through all of training camp and the preseason. Peters eventually returned just days before the season opener. He struggled far more than in 2007 and despite making a second consecutive Pro Bowl, many attributed the selection to his reputation rather than play.According to the report, Peters' first offer this offseason was in excess of the $11.5 million annually given to Miami's first overall draft pick of a year ago, Jake Long. Carolina's Jason Gross just signed the largest free agent contract last month, earning $60 million over six years, including $30.5 million in the first three years. Eugene Parker, Peters' agent, thinks his client is worth more than either player got.
While the Bills are certainly agreeable on giving a raise over the $4.05 million Peters is slated to make this year, it's highly unlikely the front office is willing to reach $10 million per year or more.
This creates another prospective stalemate.
The Bills, much like last year have three options of which none figure to help the team on the field. Buffalo can simply let him hold out again and fine him daily until he reports. The downside is a far less motivated and productive player. They can continue to negotiate and eventually succumb to Peters' demands. That would tie up a lot of money and handcuff the team from making other moves they may like, even though they saved a pile of cash to cap money after cutting Derrick Dockery last month. Lastly, they could trade Peters before the draft and get a couple of good draft picks and possibly a player, but that would leave another gaping hole on the roster.
Philadelphia is considered to be an interested party closely monitoring the situation.
Regardless of the outcome, if the Bills really want Trent Edwards to succeed in his third season they need to make sure the injury prone quarterback is protected. Having to find a new left tackle or keeping Peters motivated without a new deal isn't something the Bills are looking to take on. What good is having Terrell Owens and Lee Evans running patterns when the quarterback is constantly on his back or running for his life?
Both sides still have plenty of time, which is good because this is quickly taking on the look of a long, drawn out process.
Goff in the mix?
A trusted source tells me the Bills are preparing to take a look at San Diego free agent guard Michael Goff. No visit has been scheduled but Goff could be at One Bills Drive by early next week.
Buffalo may turn to Michael Goff to fill its void at guard.
Sounds to me like the Bills strategy is to employ a veteran, albeit Goff or another free agent as a bridge to an April draft selection. Goff is long in the tooth after 11 NFL seasons, but would fill a stopgap role tremendously.
Bills offensive line coach Bill Kugler was at the Oklahoma pro day this week and came away impressed, particularly with guard Duke Robinson. The Bills may strongly consider him in the second round of the draft.
Waiting it out at OLB
With fans growing impatient waiting for one to sign, the reality is the Bills don't need to strike a quick deal. June and Keiaho are both system linebackers and neither has drawn interest around the league. The gameplan is to wait for the price to come down with the player they value at team friendly terms. It's also not out of the question both players could end up here to compete for a starting spot. The Bills placed a $1.01 million tender on Keith Ellison but it doesn't mean they can't cut him if they desire. If Ellison got cut the Bills would owe him nothing. While it's not likely both June and Keiaho sign, it is a possibility.
Preston, Crowell on way out?
I thought Duke Preston would return to the Bills and fill a valuable backup role on the interior of the offensive line. But according to a source the Bills have no interest in having him back. I'm told head coach Dick Jauron was disappointed with his play by the end of last season, and his brain fart just before halftime of the New England finale was the last straw. The Bills haven't talked to Preston about a contract since last season ended.
Another former Bill definitely not coming back is Angelo Crowell. Despite an effort publicly to downplay any bitterness between the sides after Crowell was placed on injured reserve, I'm told the Bills have never had interest in bringing him back. Unlike other current Bills free agents like Preston, Melvin Fowler and J.P. Losman, Crowell is drawing plenty of interest. He's already visited Tampa Bay. Detroit and Philadelphia are among teams interested.
Top tight end to visit
The Buffalo News is reporting college tight end Brandon Pettigrew will be visiting the Bills on Monday. While Pettigrew is the consensus top tight end in the draft and the Bills have a need to fill there, it's not probable he'll be selected with the 11th overall pick. Still, it's smart to get know the player more and keep the door open should they decide they want him at their current draft position or following a trade down.
There are very few quality tight ends available in free agency, and none considered an asset in the passing game. The Bills are not interested in L.J. Smith.
It's assumed the Bills are taking a tight end very early in the draft, but don't bank on it. I'm told that the team really loves Derek Fine and think he's capable of playing a larger role in the passing game than Robert Royal did.