Edwards agrees to terms to sign with Buffalo

OWINGS MILLS -- Former Baltimore Ravens defensive end Dwan Edwards agreed to terms on a four-year, $18 million deal with the Buffalo Bills at midnight and will officially sign his contract later today. His contract includes escalator clauses that can boost the maximum value to over $18 million.

"It's a done deal, I'm going to be a Buffalo Bill," Edwards told the Times during a telephone interview early this morning. "It would have been nice to stay in Baltimore, but the NFL is a business. At that point, I didn't have an offer with Baltimore.

"They had already pulled the deal and I had lost my bargaining leverage. The Bills are flying in my family on a private jet and we'll sign everything today. It's been a roller-coaster ride. Free agency has been crazy for me."

The Bills were Edwards' third free agent visit following previous meetings with the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

Concerns about his spinal fusion surgery from two years ago ultimately cooled interest in Edwards, a versatile defensive lineman who unseated Trevor Pryce as a starter last season in Baltimore.

"It wasn't a money thing with the Ravens, it was just my neck," Edwards said. "They wanted me to have another surgery on my neck. If people didn't have issues with my neck, free agency would have gone a lot better for me.

"The doctor that did my surgery said there were no changes to the structure of my neck from the beginning of the season to after the season. I played 18 games and it was fine. I've proven that I can play football and that I'm going to be healthy."

Despite strong initial interest from the Seahawks and the Broncos, Edwards didn't garner offers. His health was the primary issue.

"I didn't want to have surgery again," Edwards said. "I definitely lost a lot of money because people were worried about my neck. I went into free agency expecting to be one of the top free agents, but it didn't work out that way. Honestly, it was disappointing. This has been very rough on me."

Edwards emphasized that he has been cleared to play medically, but acknowledged that different doctors will often have differing opinions.

The Bills' spine specialist is regarded as an expert in his field, especially considering his work with former Buffalo tight end Kevin Everett who was nearly paralyzed during a collision on the field and has regained his ability to walk. The Bills signed inside linebacker Andra Davis to a two-year, $4.4 million deal during Edwards' visit.

Last season, Edwards recorded 47 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries with one returned for a touchdown against the New England Patriots. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said during the NFL scouting combine that the team would like to have Edwards back.

Edwards missed the entire 2008 season, but made a strong comeback last year with nine starts. The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder entered free agency expecting to draw a lot of interest.

"I've gotten better every year I've been with the Ravens," Edwards told Buffalo reporters during his visit. "Unfortunately, I had the injury in 08, but came back strong and probably had the most productive year of my career. I'm looking forward to continuing to grow and improve and be a great addition."

Edwards, who said that former Ravens and Bills defensive tackle Justin Bannan recommended the Bills organization to him, has a strong background in the 3-4 defense that the Bills are implementing under new defensive coordinator George Edwards.

Edwards' departure make him the second defensive lineman to leave the Ravens since the start of free agency with Bannan signing a five-year, $22 million deal with the Broncos.

"I'm going to miss Baltimore, but I did what I had to do for my family," Edwards said. "It's a sport, but it's also a business. You have to look out for your own best interests. I wish it could have worked out in Baltimore, but I know I did the right thing by going to Buffalo."

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