Gilbride Named New Offensive Coordinator
It seems the Bills went back to their first choice after talking to nearly 30 men. It was beginning to look like this wasn't an attractive position as Rams QB coach John Ramsdell and Packers RB coach Sylvester Croom backing out because they weren't interested. The job came down to Gilbride, Steelers QB coach Tom Clements, who is being courted by Jacksonville, and former Indiana University coach Cam Cameron. The Bills were thought to be considering contacting Miami for a second time to inquire about interviewing Mike Schula. Our Take: There seems to be some feeling around the league that the position wasn't attractive because Mike Sheppard may have been made a scapegoat and Coach Williams may be on the hot seat if the Bills don't start off well. Job security may have been an issue among some of these candidates but the personnel is there to be groomed by the right coordinator.
The next question is, does that personnel now include Rob Johnson? With the hiring of Gilbride, the door on Johnson's future in Buffalo may have been opened a bit. The two men have a good working relationship from their days together in Jacksonville. If Johnson isn't picked in the expansion draft and if he doesn't appear to have great value on the open market he may be interested in coming back to Buffalo and take the big pay cut. Our Take: Even though Gilbride being there may intrigue Johnson he probably thinks, and we agree, that he needs a change of scenery. That being said, his chances of returning to Buffalo are a bit greater now than they were last week. Houston won't take him in the expansion draft because of his cap figure.
In other news, the Bills signed four free agents this week. The newest Bills are centers Michael Early and Tom Schau along with defensive tackle DeVonte Peterson and cornerback Jason Bostic. Early was with the Bills for the first half of last season before being waived. Peterson was also with the Bills in training camp last year. Schau had stints on the Packers and Saints practice squad while Bostic led the Eagles in special teams tackles in 2000. Our Take: Bostic is intriguing because of his special teams history. It is worth another shot giving Early and Peterson slots on the 80 man roster.
This week the Bills allocated seven players to NFL Europe. QB David Dinkins, RB Curtis Alexander, LB Jimmy Robinson, DT DeVonte Peterson, WRs Scott Keys and Reggie Allen join DB Chad Sears in Europe. Their assignments will be decided by the league at a later date. Our Take: It's about time the Bills use this development league to help some of these younger players move along. Dinkins is a must for this league but third string quarterback Travis Brown would have benefited from a spring in Europe also.
Contract talks with Sam Cowart remain stalled. His agent told the Buffalo News that he is pessimistic a deal will get done before the March 1st beginning of free agency. The hold up continues to be how the bonus money would be paid out depending on the health of Cowart. The Bills want to withhold more of his bonus money until he plays enough games to prove he can remain healthy. Our Take: The Bills have a right to take a cautious approach with Cowart considering he hasn't been healthy for a year and a quarter. However, they can't afford to lose him. Our answer: use the franchise tag, that gives you a year to see if he's healthy enough to regain his stature as one of the best linebackers in the game.
Larry Centers and Ruben Brown represented the AFC in the Pro Bowl on Saturday. Brown had several key blocks in the game while Centers carried the ball three times for five yards and caught two passes for 14 yards. Our Take: The Pro Bowl is always a sad event, no more football for six months.
The Bills still may lose Tom Modrak to a GM position. The Atlanta Falcons have received permission to talk to Modrak about their open spot. Tom Donahoe said it is a priority to keep Modrak but the club won't hold him back from a potential opportunity. Our Take: Everyone knows Modrak is here as a stopgap measure until he gets a GM job. The longer the club keeps him is considered a bonus.
Mike Sheppard landed on his feet as he was hired by the New Orleans Saints as the QB coach. Our Take: It's always nice to see a fired coach get a job in the league.
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