Close but no tag [11:12 PM]
ESPN reports: One player who didn't get a "franchise" or "transition" tag Thursday, but came close, was Buffalo LB Sam Cowart. The team worked hard on trying to cut a deal with his agent and thought seriously about "tagging" Cowart, then backed off.
The free agent market isn't going to be strong in general, and specifically for a player like Cowart, who played in just one game in 2001 and is coming off an Achilles injury.
Haslett is a short-timer in The Big Easy [11:03 PM]
ESPN reports: You've got to wonder how much New Orleans owner really wants coach Jim Haslett to stick around. The Saints recently offered Haslett a new, four-year contract with salaries of $2 million, $2.5 million, $2.65 million and $3 million. But the final two years of the contract were at the club's option and Haslett rejected the proposal. There also was a stipulation Haslett could leave for another NFL job provided the Saints were compensated with a third-round draft choice.
If some team really coveted Haslett (like Buffalo in 2003, should Gregg Williams not show progress this year), a third-round choice would be small price to pay for him.
Official Bills' press release of partner breakup with Wegmans [9:45 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Wegmans partnership breakup includes ticket sales and training camp.
Bills opt not to tag Cowart, dimming chances of his return [9:07 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Cowart's agents want his signing bonus paid before the start of the regular season. They're not demanding he get most of it the day he signs a contract, but they want it all by the time the regular season starts.'
Compromise with Cowart seems unlikely [9:06 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Cowart says he wants to stay, but the word around the league is that he wants out. The Bills say they want to keep him, while nudging him toward the door.'
Buffalo Bills, Wegmans part company ahead of their original agreement [9:06 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Both sides are terming the decision a mutual agreement.'
Bills looking for a guarantee from Cowart [8:32 AM]
WKBW reports: The Bills are not ready to use their tag on LB Cowart. They want to continue to negotiate. So now they have eight days until Cowart can test the free agent market. At issue: how much of Cowart's signing bonus should be paid up front. The Bills want to defer payment of much of the bonus until after the season so they can assess his recovery from a torn achilles tendon. His agent, Gene Burrough, says the Bills are essentially looking for a guarantee from Cowart that he'll never get hurt again. The agent says there's a 50-50 chance at best that Cowart will re-sign with the Bills.
Wegmans exits as Bills camp sponsor [5:19 AM]
D and C reports: '"At Wegmans, we want to focus marketing initiatives that tie more directly to our company's priorities," she said. "We're just choosing to spend our marketing dollars in other ways."'
KFFL AFC-East Analysis [6:08 PM]
KFFL reports: The good news - no more former Bills running backs were arrested for domestic issues with their spouses. The bad news - Rob Johnson was either hurt or ineffective all season long. He's never been particularly good, but throwing 5 TDs in 8 games are numbers that can be described only as ?Leaf-esque? (as in Ryan Leaf).
Bills' Cowart ready to shop his services [5:08 PM]
AP reports: 'Cowart's agent Gene Burrough said "it's a good chance," that his client has played his last game in Buffalo.'
No Tag for Cowart [4:14 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: As we continue to work towards a contract for Sam Cowart to keep him here as a Buffalo Bill, we opted not to place a tag on him. The rehab process continues to go well for Sam in his efforts to recover from his Achilles tendon injury and working to a time when he can pass a physical.
Buchsbaum on Modrak [3:51 PM]
Pro Football Weekly reports: Based on stories over the past few years, it's pretty clear that Modrak and Donahoe are very tight with the old-school, roll-up-your-sleeves football writers - Buchsbaum and Len P. (and Bill Werndl of XTRA and formerly of Philly, for that matter).
Bills Lop Off their Johnson [3:49 PM]
Fanball reports: Question: What?s the first thing you should ask yourself when a marginal NFL player signs a lucrative, long-term contract? Answer: When is he going to get cut?
Lofton lands first-ever coaching assignment [11:57 AM]
ESPN reports: If experience really is the best teacher, the Chargers will have a terrific mentor for their young wide receiver corps in 2002, with the team on Wednesday hiring former NFL star James Lofton as an assistant coach.
It will mark the first coaching assignment at any level for Lofton, who had a brilliant 16-season career in the league.
Black could have been something [10:38 PM]
Shout! reports: 'Avion Black is now a Houston Texan. The Bills never got close to utilizing Black's speed. He could have been an excellent kick returner. In fact, against the Saints on opening day last season, he ran a punt back 34 yards. Unfortunately, he had one man to beat - the punter, who ended up tackling him. Still, it was among the best drive starts the Bills had on offense all season.'
Lofton, Cameron added to San Diego staff [9:01 PM]
AP reports: 'It is the first NFL coaching job for Lofton, who played in the league for 16 seasons and spent the last eight years in broadcasting.'
Ex-Bill James Lofton to coach receivers for Chargers [7:21 PM]
Chargers Website reports: The Chargers added one of the most prolific pass catchers in NFL history to their coaching staff when Schottenheimer named James Lofton as the team's WR coach on Wednesday. This will be Lofton's first coaching assignment. Lofton got to know Charger's GM Butler when he was a Buffalo Bill.
Hallís call to Kelly should open door for Buffalo teammates [7:08 PM]
Pro Football Weekly reports: Why do I get the feeling that years from now, after several Bills have been honored in the Canton hall, Iíll still be trying to explain how a team as talented as those great Bills teams failed to win a Super Bowl title?
Billy Conaty offseason Q & A [7:05 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Official Bills site catches up with free agent center, Billy Conaty.
Down but not out in South Central L.A. [12:21 PM]
ESPN reports: Marlin Briscoe was the first African-American quarterback to start a pro game 34 years ago for the Denver Broncos. Now he's trying to make a difference again at an outreach program in Los Angeles. After his release from the Broncos, Briscoe latched on with the Buffalo Bills and became a wide receiver, a position he had never before played. The first season, he became the Bills' offensive MVP. A year later, he led the league in receiving and became an All-Pro
Saints sign Lewis, looking for team to trade Blake [8:21 PM]
CBS Sportsline reports: As for Blake, the Saints would like to receive a fourth-round pick for his services, with the Bills one team that may be interested. The Bills are looking for a veteran QB to compete with Alex Van Pelt, which almost certainly means that Rob Johnson won't be back.
The 31-year-old Blake has a cap figure of $6.166 million in 2002, which is why the Saints want to trade him. They would save about $2 million by trading him. He is also due a roster bonus of $1.25 million on March 2.
Losing Black was no loss for the Bills [4:50 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'Without that special teams edge, he quickly fell to No. 5 wideout behind starters Eric Moulds and Peerless Price, rookie Reggie Germany who moved up to the No. 3 spot and even Jeremy McDaniel who fell into disfavor.'
Texans nab Black, pass on Johnson [9:06 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Bills lost reserve receiver Avion Black to the Texans. But after Black was taken, the Bills did not bother to pull Johnson back onto their protected list, as was their option.'
Johnson's time as a Bill must end now [9:05 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Stop pretending he's going to swallow a huge salary cut and come crawling back to a town that is sick of him. Put the fans, the players, the media and Rob himself out of their misery and cut the guy right now.'
Texans select Black with 16th pick in expansion draft [8:28 AM]
Sports Network reports: The 24-year-old Black was mostly a special teams player for the Bills last season. He has 697 total return yards, eight receptions for 90 yards and five special-teams tackles in his NFL career.
Bills stuck with Johnson's huge salary [8:07 AM]
CBS Sportsline reports: The Houston Texans didn't want Rob Johnson on Monday, and the Buffalo Bills still haven't decided whether they intend to keep him.
Texans aren't desperate for quarterback help [7:55 AM]
ESPN reports: By selecting Bears backup Danny Wuerffel to go with veteran Mike Quinn, the Texans don't have to hit the QB market hard. If Gus Frerotte, Jim Miller or Rob Johnson -- if he's cut by Buffalo -- wants to come to Houston for a $1 million, one-year deal, the Texans will probably accommodate him. Frank Reich started in Carolina until Kerry Collins was ready in the first month. The Texans -- if they draft Carr -- are only asking for games, not years, from a veteran QB.
Johnson's status depends on contract [5:26 AM]
D and C reports: '"We've been pretty open about the situation right from the end of the season," Donahoe said. "If there's a chance for Rob to come back the contract's a factor. If they're not receptive to that, it's going to be difficult for us to bring him back. We can't do it under the current number."'
Ex-Bill Patton, 34, agrees to six-year contract [9:26 PM]
ESPN reports: Veteran LB Marvcus Patton, a starter for the Kansas City Chiefs the last three seasons, agreed to a six-year contract Monday. Patton was an eighth-round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills out of UCLA and played on all four of the team's Super Bowl squad.
Bills' Johnson still in limbo after Texans pass on him [9:24 PM]
AP reports: 'Asked the chances of Johnson taking a pay cut, Donahoe replied: ``I don't know. You'd have to ask Rob that question. I'm not good at mind-reading. And a pay cut is only the first step", Donahoe added.'
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