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Rumors Run Rampant In Quiet Week

News continues to trickle out very slowly from One Bills Drive as we are in the doldrums portion of the off season as the brass prepares for the upcoming draft. We will take a closer look at all the news and rumors for the week as we usually do though, including our take on the issues:

The biggest news of the week was made by Ralph Wilson. He had some very strong comments in an interview with the Rochester D&C. He admitted in the interview he had something to do with the benching of Doug Flutie before the 1999 wildcard game. In the same interview he also said that he would rather beat the Chargers this year than go to the Super Bowl. Our Take: Wilson is obviously still very upset and scorned about how things went down with John Butler and he will seek the Chargers game as redemption. It is not surprising that Wilson was involved in the benching of Flutie since it was speculated at the time. However, Wilson has also been considered pro-Flutie so it his comments did raise a few eyebrows. The fact is he wants revenge on Butler, and Flutie is now in the middle since he signed with the Chargers.

On the same day Wilson's comments were released, Gregg Williams had an in-depth interview with the Buffalo News. The Bills head coach said Rob Johnson is picking up the new offense very fast, almost too fast, they have to slow him down to let others catch up. He said the attendance in the off season conditioning program is in the mid-90 percent range with only 5-6 players missing time because of commitments. On the draft, Williams said the team has needs on both sides of the line but seemed to stress the need for a tall, speedy defensive back. On the offensive line, Williams seems to think Bill Conaty will excel at center and Robert Hicks has unlimited talent, he just needs to gain confidence. Our Take: It really sounds like Williams will push for the Bills to draft a cornerback in the first round even though there are greater needs on the two lines.

In free agent coming and goings, three players that the Bills were looking at to bolster their defensive line signed with other teams this week. Jeremy Staat signed with Seattle, Rich Owens inked a deal with Kansas City and Keith Washington signed with Denver. Former Titan defensive back Marcus Robertson made a much anticipated visit to Buffalo on Wednesday. Seattle and Oakland are also interested and may have a better shot at signing him because of the Bills cap problems. Our Take: The three linemen all came to Buffalo for workouts but it is unclear how much interest the Bills had in them. They are all borderline starters with some downside, with the draft being deep at defensive line, the Bills may just add depth with rookies. Robertson is a solid pro who knows the defense Williams will run but the Bills have more pressing needs than free safety since Keion Carpenter was solid there last year.

Former Bill Ted Washington is growing antsy about not having a team yet. As it becomes increasingly clear that he will not get the money he expects comes a report that he has called Tom Donahoe and Gregg Williams about the possibility of returning to Buffalo. They supposedly have no interest in bringing him back and his choices seem to be coming down to Chicago or Pittsburgh. The Bears still have an offer on the table and the Steelers are the lone 3-4 defense left in the league. Expect him to land somewhere this week. Our Take: Williams had a bad meeting with Washington and doesn't like his conditioning so it is no surprise the Bills don't want him back, even at a reduced rate.

Trade rumors continue to swirl regarding Antowain Smith. The Chicago Bears have been rumored to be interested and their website has reported that they have contacted the Bills about his availability. One of the latest rumors says that the Bears have cooled on him. They supposedly will only give up a late round pick for Smith. Our Take: Donahoe wants to add draft picks and he has a glut at the running back position which makes trading Smith and his high cap figure a logical move. The question is can he get a higher pick for him than the Bears want to give up?

Jay Riemersma answered e-mails on the Bills official website early this week. In the session he admitted the new offense is more of a passing threat than a running threat. He feels the West Coast offense relies more heavily on the tight end and that should lends itself to his strength. He also is looking for great things from Johnson and commented on how the team will be more disciplined this year. Our Take: The West Coast offense could help Riemersma have a huge season.

Late in the week it was Rob Johnson's turn to answer e-mails on the official website of the club. He said the new staff commands respect and it is a feeling of fresh air around the club. The staff is working really hard off the field that makes the team want to work harder on the field. Johnson said he loves the fact that the team is working out together in the off season and that can only help the club this season. Like Riemersma, Johnson feels the new offense will be good for him and he plans on putting 16 games together this year to put in end to the talk about his health, which he is sick of talking about. He believes he will learn a lot from the coaches and play his best football this year. He was glowing when talking about the talent of his receiving corps. He said they are all talented but different. He believes Kwame Cavil will have a real good year and that Avion Black needs to get playing time because of his speed. Our Take: With the proper teaching from the coaches, this could be a breakout year for Johnson in the new offense if he can remain healthy.

Ralph Wilson was granted a hearing with Commissioner Tagliabue this week regarding his dispute with former coach Wade Phillips. The owner has stopped paying Phillips the $750,000 he owes him because he says Phillips effectively quit when he refused to fire special teams coach Ronnie Jones. The hearing will be heard on April 23rd. Our Take: Wilson really knows how to hold a grudge. He should just pay Phillips the money. He fired him, he needs to pay out the contract.

Football fans are anxiously awaiting the release of the NFL schedule so they can make their fall plans. It was suppose to come out this week but there were some delays do to conflicts. The league is also deciding whether or not they should leave the last two weeks of the season open on Monday night. The league would then decide in early December who would play on Monday night based on playoff implications. They may do that as early as this year and expand it to Sunday night's next year. Our Take: This will be good for television fans but for fans that travel long distances to go to games, it may cause a hardship when a game is switched only a few weeks before the game.

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