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Bills Make Splash In Free Agency/Trade Mark

No Agreement With WR Johnson: There have been conflicting reports regarding free agent WR Bryant Johnson. A Phoenix radio station and Sirius NFL Radio originally reported the Bills had a tentative agreement with the receiver on a deal. The Bills told WGRZ that there is no truth to those reports. Johnson reportedly landed in Buffalo for his visit late this afternoon. Ben Troupe is now due in tomorrow. He was reportedly expected over the weekend. The Bills may turn to Troupe now that they lost out on Agle Crumpler.

Bills Lose Out On Crumpler?: Sirius NFL Radio reported that the Bills were one of three teams in the running to sign Agle Crumpler. Tennessee and Seattle were the other two teams and Adam Schefter of NFL Network says he has chosen Tennessee as his new home. It is unclear if he ever made it to Buffalo for a visit.

Free Agent Visits Expected: The Bills are not done in free agency after a whirlwind first two days that saw them shore up the defensive front seven. They are now expected to turn their attention to the offensive side of the ball. As we reported earlier Arizona free agent WR Bryant Johnson and Titans free agent TE Ben Troupe are expected to visit. They share the same agent and he says they will both be in town today. Johnson is the best big wide receiver left on the market and there may be a few teams interested in him. Troupe has all the skills but hasn't really developed in Tennessee and has wallowed at the bottom of the depth chart the last two years.

Saturday March 1, 2008

Jauron Pleased: Dick Jauron is excited about how free agency has gone so far. He said it's not over but it has gone quickly but very well for the team. He expects to use Marcus Stroud as both a one and a three technique guy and the team is excited about getting him in the middle of the rotation. Jauron doesn't think trading for Stroud is a significant risk but there is always a risk with any player but you can't control the injury factor. They checked it out thoroughly and feel good about Stroud's ankle.

Johnson Used To Defense: Spencer Johnson is a player that hasn't played too much but has tremendous upside. He has played in the Tampa 2 in college and the pros. He has played in all defensive line positions including both the one and the three on at tackle. He feels his transition will be an easy one. He knew Buffalo was interested in him and heard nothing but good things about the team and the area from former teammate Pat Williams.

Stroud Out To Prove Something: Marcus Stroud said in a press conference this evening that the is out to prove that he has a lot left in the tank. He knows he's been hurt the past two years and everyone has been asking about his ankle. He said he just wants to go out, get ready and show everybody what he can still do. He said his ankle feels good and he's extremely confident and it's just a matter of staying healthy. He spoke of the storied history of the franchise and what he called a great, young nucleus of players the Bills have. He expects to be able to use his attributes of being a big, powerful guy who will be able to get up field to disrupt and make plays. He's happy to having a first start and new beginning in Buffalo.

Bills Trade For Stroud: The Bills consumated a trade for Marcus Stroud this afternoon with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team did not disclose what draft picks went to the Jaguars but it is reportedly a 3rd and a 5th round pick. That has been the going rate for big name defensive tackles on the first two days of trading in the free agency period. The sticking point was Stroud asking for a raise it is unclear if he will get his contract restructured as part of the deal. He has three years left on his contract. Stroud has been an elite defensive tackle in the past but has missed 12 games the past two years because of an ankle injury. He also has had a 4 game suspension in his past for steroids use meaning another drug policy violation would result in a year suspension. He said that's all in the past but he did take enhancements to help him get over the ankle problem.

Bills Add Johnson: A smaller move to help sure up the defensive tackle situation was also made today when the Bills signed Spencer Johnson to a five year deal. Johnson spent the first four years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. The 6'3" 286 lb. tackle has nine starts in his career but none the last two years as he played behind Pat and Kevin Williams in Minnesota. The Buffalo News, citing a league source, say he signed a five year deal for a whopping $17.5 Million with $6 Million guaranteed. That is essentially the same money that Kawika Mitchell signed for even though the linebacker has more experience. It shows how tough the market for defensive tackles are. Johnson will likely be on the 2nd line of the Bills defensive tackle waves. Depth Chart.

Stroud Interest Cools? Associated Press is reporting that Marcus Stroud cut his visit to Buffalo short yesterday. The Bills apparently balked that he would want a significant raise wherever he ends up in a trade with Jacksonville according to a source close to Stroud who spoke to AP. If Stroud is out, the market for defensive tackles is bare and now the Bills are down one instead of adding to an already weak position.

Mitchell Anxious To Get Started: Kawika Mitchell held his introductory press conference yesterday and said that the college atmosphere and the love of football by the fans of Western New York were some of the reasons why he's excited to be a Bill. He's anxious to get started. He thinks it's a great opportunity to win a lot of games because it is a good young team. He hopes to contribute to winning games and feels it is a good opportunity for his family. He spoke about the great linebacking tradition of the Bills and wants to be part of that as well. He said a deal was struck very quickly.

Jauron Got His Man In Mitchell: Dick Jauron said the team did a lot of work preparing for free agency and they knew Kawika Mitchell was a high character player who would fit in. In film study they realized he was a hard hitter, aggressive, and tough with good size. By adding a starter like Mitchell they add depth as well. They are really happy that they got the guy they had their sights set on when free agency began because he fits it all for the team. Jauron said Mitchell will play the weakside and they wanted a more physical guy at that spot and they got that with Mitchell. He is just very happy to have added to the football team. They all recognize they need to get better and they feel they have with this addition.

Friday February 29, 2008

Teams Interested In Webster: The Bills have not lost any of their unrestricted free agents so far on day one of free agency but one player is being looked by a few teams including the Bills. Jason Webster reportedly has a visit planned with New England on Monday while the Seahawks and Giants are also interested in him. The Bills would like to bring him back for depth at a position where they already released two players in Kiwaukee Thomas and Jerametrius Butler.

Interest In Johnson? The Associated Press is reporting that the Bills have interest in free agent WR Bryant Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals. He shares an agent with free agent TE Ben Troupe who we reported earlier will visit this weekend. Agent Joel Segal said the Bills have had preliminary talks with Johnson who was the number three guy in the desert. He was a first round pick in the 2003 draft.

Bills Release Tripplett: In a move that may be the setup for an even bigger move, the Bills terminated the contract of Larry Tripplett today. As we reported earlier, reports say that the Bills had Marcus Stroud in for a visit today. This move could lead to speculation that the team is trying to work out a trade with Jacksonville for Stroud and the Tripplett move opens up room under the salary cap. The team has plenty of room under the cap but go with the cash to cap philosophy. Tripplett's release frees up $1.1 Million in cap dollars and $2.7 Million in real (or cash to cap) money. He signed a big free agent contract with the team two years ago and struggled fitting in with the Bills defense as his play was very inconsistent. Stroud would come with a hefty contract worth about $6 Million a year. Stay tuned for more developments.

Mitchell Happy And Excited: Kawika Mitchell was in Buffalo late this afternoon to sign his contract that officially makes him a Bill. He spoke to the team's website and said he's very happy to be in the situation and is excited to get started. He was happy to reach a deal quickly after lasting very long in free agency last year before signing a one year deal with the Giants. He confirmed he will play outside and he is used to the weakside after playing there last year. He played in the middle in Kansas City before coming to the Giants. He played the Tampa 2 in college so he feels it will work out great. He feels the defense plays hard and is looking forward to being a part of it.

Troupe To Visit? Adam Schefter of the NFL Network says free agent tight end Ben Troupe will visit with the Bills sometime over the weekend. Troupe is a four year veteran who has never lived up to lofty expectations in Tennessee. He had a career high 55 receptions in 2005 but only five receptions last year.

Mitchell Deal For Five Years: Reports says the deal Kawika Mitchell agreed to is a five year deal worth a total of $17.5 Million including $3.5 Million in guaranteed money. Mitchell played very well for the Giants down the stretch last year and in the playoffs. He returned an interception for a touchdown against the Bills in week 16. He finish the season with 87 sacks and 3½ sacks. He added two more in the playoffs including one in the Super Bowl.

Bills Agree To Terms With LB: The Bills made their first splash in free agency late this morning by agreeing to terms with free agent linebacker Kawika Mitchell. Mitchell started 16 games for the Super Bowl champion Giants last year and is a five year veteran. He is enroute to Buffalo and will sign his contract today. No terms have been reported yet. He has played weak side linebacker but may move to the strong side which would mean Angelo Crowell would move back to the weakside and leave Keith Ellison in a backup role.

Stroud Visits: The Buffalo News is reporting that Jaguars DT Marcus Stroud is visiting with the team today. He is not a free agent but has been given permission to work out a trade. Stroud is a force in the middle but has some injury concerns.

Free Agency Underway: The NFL free agency period is now underway and the Bills have yet to make any moves. Nothing has been made official around the league but several trades and signings have been reported. No moves involving players the Bills supposedly covet or any of their own free agents have happened so far. We will of course keep you posted.

Thursday February 28, 2008

Bills Release Thomas: The Bills made another roster move today releasing their 2nd cornerback in as many days. Kiwaukee Thomas is the latest ex-Bill in a move that seems to set the team up to shuffle the depth at the cornerback position. Thomas has been a solid nickel corner the past two seasons for the Bills. Depth Chart.

Jefferson Tendered: The Bills tendered a contract offer to one of their three restricted free agents. DT Jason Jefferson was tendered a contract which means the Bills have a right to match any offer he receives in the free agent market or receive a 6th round pick in compensation. The team did not tender offers to Jim Leonhard and Shaud Williams by the 4pm deadline today. They will now become unrestricted free agents at midnight tonight. Front Office Page.

Exclusive Rights Players Tendered: The Bills secured the rights to all four exclusive rights free agents. They tendered offers to Dustin Fox, Corey Mace, Scott Mayle, and Tim Massaquoi. The tenders keep them in Buffalo but they aren't under contract until they sign them.

Free Agency Set To Start: The NFL free agency period starts at the stroke of midnight and look for the action to be fast and furious. With most teams including the Bills having ample cap room and few marquee names on the market look for free agents to be gobbled up quickly. The Bills main priority looks to be signing a big wide receiver in the early part of free agency. Luckily for the Bills it is also the deepest position of talent available. Another position of need is defensive tackle but most of the talented free agents have been re-signed. Last year the Bills prioritized the offensive line as their main need and they signed three of them on the first day of the free agency period. Look for them to sign at least one prominent free agent tomorrow.

Wednesday February 27, 2008

A-Train, Wire Among 4 Released: The Bills continued to position themselves for free agency by releasing four players today. Coy Wire, Anthony Thomas, Aaron Merz, and Jerametrius Butler are no longer on the team. Wire and Thomas are the big names of the four. Wire failed his physical after undergoing neck fusion surgery late last season, his football future is in jeopardy. Thomas was a favorite of Dick Jauron but the emergence of Fred Jackson and the down year he had last year made him expendable. Merz missed all of last year with a shoulder injury and was waived while the other three had their contracts terminated. Butler had a decent amount of playing time in the injury riddled Bills secondary last year but didn't fit into the plans this year with everyone healthy. He appeared in seven games including one start last season. Front Office Page.

Bills In Good Cap Shape: The Bills enter free agency in excellent salary cap shape like most teams. They have about $25 Million under the cap and $44 Million in the cash to the cap philosophy that they go by according to a report by the Buffalo News. That should allow them room to sign some decent free agents. They can also clear almost $2 Million in cash to the cap dollars by releasing or trading J.P. Losman. They can clear $2.7 Million by releasing Larry Tripplett who has underpeformed since being signed two years ago. It will be an interesting next few weeks and we will cover it all. Salary Cap Page.

Fitzpatrick Added: The Bills have brought back punter Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was with the team last summer and peformed well. He also can act as a backup placekicker in training camp. He is brought in to take some pressure off of Brian Moorman during camp and preseason so that he doesn't have to tire out his leg before the season. Front Office Page.

Tuesday February 26, 2008

Combine Ends Today: The NFL scouting combine comes to an end today and then front office brass around the NFL get to work on free agency which begins on Friday. Expect players to move fast on the opening weekend as there aren't too many marquee names out there and most teams have room under the cap. The Bills will likely target a big wide receiver early in free agency as well as a big defensive tackle. They also may look to re-sign Michael Gaines before, or shortly after, the market opens. What position do you think the Bills should target first in free agency? Take our poll on our homepage and let us know!

Monday February 25, 2008

TE Not High On List? Conversations with the Bills brass at the combine by local media suggests that the Bills don't value tight end being as big a need as defensive tackle and wide reciever. The team hopes to re-sign Michael Gaines who is an unrestricted free agent. If they re-sign him along with the recent signing of Teyo Johnson, the team may not view it as much of a need in free agency but still may look at that position in the draft.

Sunday February 24, 2008

Bills Looking For Bigger DT: Everyone knows the Bills need a bigger defensive tackle to help shore up an anemic run defense but how will that work the cover two defense they are so enamored with? At the combine the powers at be shed a bit of light on that. They still want penetrating, quicker tackles but they are looking for a bigger one that can rotate in for Kyle Williams to slow down running games.

Saturday February 23, 2008

Thomas To Cowboys: Zach Thomas is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys. His agent Drew Rosenhaus said the Bills did get into conversations about Thomas but never made a serious offer. The Bills were one of a bunch of teams that were cited as interested in the former Dolphin.

Friday February 22, 2008

Jauron Talks About Needs: Dick Jauron spoke to the media yesterday as the NFL combine got underway in Indianapolis. He confirmed that the team's biggest needs are a tall wide receiver, a pass receiving tight end, and a run stuffing defensive tackle. The team hopes to target a sparse free agent class to fill some of the needs before the draft but they know they will have to act fast when the free agency period begins at midnight next Friday.

Thursday February 21, 2008

Local Lawmakers Want Meeting: Erie County Executive Chris Collins and Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown have sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell requesting a meeting. In their letter dated yesterday they wrote they wanted to meet to "express [their] strong support and commitment to ensuring the long-term future of the Buffalo Bills in Western New York." They thanked the commissioner for meeting with Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Brian Higgins.

Wednesday February 20, 2008

Combine Starts Tomorrow: The NFL Combine gets underway tommorrow and runs through Tuesday. Many of the top prospects in the NFL Draft will be in Indianapolis. All the teams will have their coaches, front office people, and medical staffs on hand as well. It is also a place where rumors develop as free agency is fast approaching.

Monday February 18, 2008

Bills Interested In Thomas? The rumor mill is starting already with the Dolphins release of LB Zach Thomas last week. NFL Network's Adam Schefter is reporting that Thomas will visit New Orleans tomorrow. The report also says that the Bills are interested in their former rival along with the Jets and Cowboys. Thomas is a veteran who would bring depth and experience but he's a middle linebacker and wouldn't start with the expected emergence of Paul Pozluzsny.

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