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Players Get Time Off

With the final mini camp behind the team, the players are now on their own to finish preparations for training camp. The front office continued to be a bit busy as they signed another draft pick, added a lineman and two people to the scouting staff. Here is our take on all the issues from the week:

5th round pick Ben Sobieski became the third draft pick to sign with the team when he agreed to a deal on Thursday. Sobieski, like the deals signed by 4th rounder Sam Aiken and sixth rounder Lauvale Sape, is a three year deal. All three players have identical salaries each year, but the signing bonus is a bit different. Sobieski's is over $115,000, Aiken's is $274,000, while Sape's is $68,500. Our Take: The earlier they can sign draft picks the better.

Speaking of salaries, the 2002 player salaries was released this past week and Drew Bledsoe is the highest paid Bill as he made $9.5 Million. $6.5 of that was paid by the Patriots. Mike Williams was second with $8.2 Million in earnings thanks to the first round bonus money. Travis Henry was a real bargain with a $303,000 pay check last year. Our Take: This figures don't mean much, as the highest paid players are the ones that cashed in on bonuses during the year, overall contracts are a better judge of the worth of players.

The team added some depth to the offensive line by signing Ross Tucker on Monday. He comes with some decent experience. He started seven games for the Cowboys last year and three games for Washington last year and in 2001. Our Take: Getting a player with starting experience this late in free agency is worth it.

The team also added personnel to the scouting staff. Terry Wooden was hired as an area scout and Tom Roth becomes the new College Scouting Administrator. Wooden is a former NFL linebacker and Roth was an intern with the player personnel department of the Bills in 2000. He has worked in the League office as a Player Personnel analyst. Roth replaces Shawn Heinlen as the College Scouting Administrator. Heinlen now becomes an area scout. Our Take: Knowing Donahoe and Modrak, these moves are probably for the better. These guys should help enhance an already talented staff.

The team may be getting busy looking to the future. With the team in very good cap shape, there are rumblings that the team is looking to wrap up some of next year's crop of unrestricted free agents. Antoine Winfield is the Bills biggest fish in free agency next year and he hopes to have a new contract before training camp begins. The same rumors are going around about Brian Moorman who is a free agent after this year. Our Take: Lock these two up now while the cap money is there. It will make next off season that much easier.

The team conducted an emergency exercise on Thursday. They did so in conjunction with emergency responders from the Buffalo area. The table top emergency exercise was done with Government officials, Bills' staff, law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel as they simulated many emergency situations that could come up at the stadium. The drill was aimed at testing the existing plan to see if it would hold up in a real emergency. Our Take: This type of drill will hopefully never be needed, but if it is, it's nice to see the team and the stadium officials will be prepared.

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