Archive for July, 2011

Tulloch Signing could mean Barnett for Bills

July 31, 2011

Bills wide receiver David Nelson reported yesterday via twitter that free agent linebacker and former Green Bay Packer Nick Barnett was in town visiting the team. Barnett was reportedly supposed to meet with the Detroit Lions today and take a physical but that trip might be cancelled. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported today, citing a source, that the Lions have come to an agreement with former Titans linebacker Stephen Tulloch.

This can only be good news for the Bills as the Lions seemed to be the only other team with serious interest in Barnett. With Tulloch heading to the “Motor City” and likely to claim the starting middle linebacking position between DeAndre Levy and FA signing Justin Durant, the Lions will likely no longer have an interest in Barnett’s services.

The Bills are desperate for a veteran middle linebacker presence and the former Packer would be a great fit. Barnett has been a stalwart whose shown the propensity to make plays in the middle of the Packers defense over his eight seasons in the league. In 107 games played he’s accumulated 787 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 9 interceptions and 7 recovered fumbles.

Injuries are somewhat of a concern however, as he’s only played one full season in the last three. He missed the majority of the 2010 season with a wrist injury. Barnett, who turned 30 this year, can still be a major asset in the middle of the Bills defense if he can stay healthy.

Bills Options at Inside Linebacker

July 27, 2011

The reports are in and it looks like the last remaining member of the Buffalo Bills 2007 draft class has departed for what he considers to be greener pastures. When unrestricted free agency officially opens at 6:00 pm on Friday and players can officially sign contracts with new teams, Paul Posluszny will dawn a brand new turquoise and black, number 51 Jacksonville Jaguars jersey. Posluszny will also have plenty of folding money when he reaches Northern Florida as the Jags rewarded him handsomely for his limited talents to the tune of a six year contract worth $42 million.

You can debate whether or not a player who has proven to be extremely injury-prone and doesn’t have a knack for making big plays is worth $7 million per year but nevertheless, Poz’s departure leaves a major hole in the middle of the Bills defense. If the Bills’ season were to start tomorrow the likeliest starting inside linebacker duo would feature a 32 year-old Andra Davis coming off season-ending shoulder surgery and a 30 year-old Reggie Torbor who has never totaled more than 44 tackles in a single season. The team did draft Kelvin Sheppard in the third round and Chris White in the sixth round of April’s draft, but to assume they would be able to learn the system and significantly contribute in a matter of a month is extremely foolish. The thought of the Bills standing pat with their current linebacking corps filled with journeyman and inexperience is unacceptable.

When free agency opened, Buddy Nix made it clear that the team’s top priority was to resign Posluszny. With Poz heading to Jacksonville, Buffalo needs to start worrying. The Bills payroll totals somewhere around $84 million (depending on the figures in Tyler Thigpen’s contract) which leaves them with about $36 million in cap space. Based on the rules of the new CBA the Bills will need to spend up to anywhere from 89% to 99% of the $120 million cap. So not only do the Bills have to worry about losing their starting inside linebacker and filling the hole he leaves behind, they also have to worry about hitting their cap figure. In assessing the talent at inside linebacker in the current free agent pool there are some names that definitely stick out as potential fits in the Bills’ 3-4 system. By no means will signing one or two of these individuals get the Bills to the cap floor figure but they should help plug some holes while Sheppard and White are given time to develop behind them.
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Morning Links to Click

July 26, 2011

With the plethora of information out there today here’s a list of links to great stories highlighting UDFAs, free agency and what to look forward to on what is sure to be one of the most hectic weeks in league history:

Gregg Rosenthal from Pro Football Talk highlights the Top 80 Free Agents set to hit the market.

For a great breakdown of where undrafted free agents have started to land check out Draft Breakdown.

David Nelson has reported via his Twitterfeed that the Bills have also landed former teammate running back Emmanuel Moody as an UDFA.

Chris Brown talks about Bills GM Buddy Nix’s intentions when it comes to Poz and Florence.

Stay tuned for what is sure to be the beginning of a crazy week of activity.

Finding Right Type of Free Agents Key for Bills Success

July 25, 2011

It looks like the dark skies have finally broke and the longest lockout in league history will finally come to an end on its 135th day. With the new CBA all but ratified, it’s time to start looking forward to football. Before the Bills hit camp on Friday in Pittsford, they have to address some significant areas of need. Depending on where you get your information from, NFL free agency may start as early as today. There’s been conflicting reports regarding whether or not there will be any timetable at all for teams to negotiate with their own current players before they hit unrestricted free agency. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported via twitter that teams can start signing their own free agents today, start speaking to UFAs this afternoon and signing UFAs by tomorrow at noon.

The Buffalo News reported last week that the Bills will be under the anticipated $120 million salary cap by about $38 million when free agency opens and it’s expected that teams will need to spend up to about 90% of that figure. Buffalo has made its intentions of resigning Paul Posluszny and Drayton Florence very clear but by no means should those two contracts take them anywhere near the required cap floor. The Bills will also have to sign their nine draft picks to contracts as well but with the new rookie wage scale set to take force when the lockout is over, it would be hard to believe the team would still be able to reach that floor mark. In a great article written by my colleague Patrick Moran last week he highlighted how the Bills have several current players that are entering the final year of their respective deals who should warrant extensions, which in turn will eat up some more cap space but the Bills should still have money to play with to hit their target number.

 It’s widely known in the Western New York area that Buddy Nix is not a proponent of building teams through free agency but rather filling holes with role players who fit the team’s system. However, he did bring in two players in his first offseason as Buffalo’s general manager that proved to be contributors last season in Dwan Edwards and Andra Davis. By no means should you expect a major splash by Nix in the UFA market but they should continue to look for contributors like Edwards and Davis again in this free agent class. Below is a list of five role players (in order of team need) who the Bills should take a serious look at once free agency begins.
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“Clear Eyes, Full Hearts” Must Read…

July 15, 2011

I try not to write about the entertainment business much on this blog but after reading Robert Mays’ article on Grantland I couldn’t help myself. Mays’ article is an oral history on one of the most critically acclaimed and thought provoking shows on television: NBC’s Friday Night Lights. In case you haven’t heard, the show will complete it’s fifth and final season tonight at 8:00 on NBC. Despite its numerous accalades and constant backing by critics, the show’s ratings have been abismal during it’s five+ year run and received the axe from NBC this season.

In case you haven’t seen it (and judging by its poor ratings, you probably haven’t) the show is set in a small town in South Texas and focuses on the lives of a high school football team, its coach and his family. Though most of the original cast has gone off to greener pastures, the show’s storylines and plot continue to be fresh and interesting.

When you get a chance, take 15 minutes out of your Friday to read Mays’ article to get a better understanding of the shows development, premise, its thought-provoking story lines and what you’ve been missing over the past five years.

Goodbye Dillon Texas.

Sources: Owners and Players are Closing in on Deal

July 15, 2011

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio has cited a source saying that the NFL players and owners are closing in on an agreement that would end the now 125 day lockout. It’s being reported that the two sides have agreed on the 2011 salary cap and have also agreed on the proposed rookie wage scale. As initially expected the 2011 salary cap will be $120 million with the details regarding the minimum cap number (which is extremely important to the Buffalo Bills) still being ironed out. As a new stipulation to the agreement, every NFL team will have to spend up to 90% of the cap in “real cash”.

That 90% number could be somewhat troublesome to the Bills front office but the important factor to keep in mind is that both sides are on the brink of a new labor agreement. Stay tuned to our coverage tomorrow for more updates and hopefully the announcement of the end of the longest lockout in NFL history.

Bills Have Knack For Finding Quality UDFA’S

July 14, 2011

I’ve recently taken a position as a staff writer for www.buffalosportsdaily.com so most of these articles will be simultaneously posted on Bleed Buffalo and BSD. Check out BSD when you get a chance, there is some great material on the site which focuses on all Buffalo Sports including the Bills Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, and local colleges like the Buffalo Bulls.  

The NFL lockout has reached its record 124th day but the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be glowing in the short distance. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk cited a source Tuesday that Sunday is the new target date for an agreement in principle to be reached by the owners and players.  After two days of deliberation by the two sides’ attorneys this week, the owners and players reportedly will meet in person today in New York to iron out the final details of a new CBA.

The most pertinent topic of discussion will most likely be the details of the proposed rookie wage scale. At the outset of the labor negotiations this seemed to be the issue that both sides had a mutual interest in addressing, so it seems unlikely it would be the issue that brings the agreement down.

With that being said, it’s time to face the harsh reality that today is July 14th, the Buffalo Bills are set to start camp on July 29th, and the Hall of Fame game between the Bears and Rams is set to kick off on August 7th in Canton. When the gates open at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, the Bills will need to produce a roster of about 90 players.

With the Bills unlikely to be a major player in unrestricted free agency, Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey will most likely have to rely heavily on bringing in a significant amount of undrafted rookie free agents.

In recent history it’s difficult to deny the fact that although the Bills haven’t had much success in the unrestricted free agent market, they’ve uncovered multiple gems via undrafted free agency. Dating back to 2004 when the team brought in a tight end out of Arkansas named Jason Peters and up until last year with the signing of David Nelson out of Florida, Buffalo’s front office seems to have a knack for finding unheralded talent in the UDFA market. For the better part of the past decade the Bills have found starters and significant role players who were passed over by every NFL team multiple times in the draft.

With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the top five Bills UDFA signings in the past decade.
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Buffalo Bills Draft WarRoom

July 11, 2011

Check out a new article I wrote for Mocking the Draft, analyzing the Buffalo Bills draft philosophy over the past few years by clicking here.

Where are all the centers?

July 7, 2011

The dust is finally settling over at HSBC Arena (for now), but the buzz in Western New York is only starting to heat up. The first Terry Pegula offseason has opened with quite a bang and it has led to many people wishing hockey season was right around the corner.

Unfortunately, the season is still a few months away, but it provides ample time to continue to evaluate the Sabres’ roster. My colleague John did a great job of highlighting the change in team philosophy this offseason and I will look to explore an aspect of his article further.

So I pose this question to Darcy Regier and his scouting team: Where are all the centers?

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End of lockout looming…time to take inventory

July 7, 2011

With positive news coming from the lockout proceedings on a daily basis, it seems that it is only a matter of days before the NFL unchains the gates and once again opens for business. With that in mind and training camp set to begin at St. John Fisher College in Rochester on July 29th, the next few weeks are set to be a whirlwind of insanity. Depending on when the agreement is finally reached and free agency officially opens, the Bills may only have a few weeks to sign their draft picks, unrestricted free agents, undrafted free agents and their current players with expiring contracts. The first step in the process will be addressing which of their own free agents they intend to bring back. It is expected that in the new CBA, players with at least four years of NFL experience will be eligible for unrestricted free agency. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the list of potential free agents the Bills currently have on their roster and determine which ones (if any) are essential to bring back.

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