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Buffalo Bills News - March 1, 2002

Marker Johnson axed [6:50 AM]
Toronto Sun reports: 'Johnson's inability to avoid the sack led to his persistent injury woes. With the Bills, he was sacked an average of once every seven times he dropped back into the pocket. In four seasons, Johnson never started more than five consecutive games without getting hurt and failed to finish 11 of 27 games he started.'

Marker Bills sack QB Johnson [5:06 AM]
D and C reports: 'Johnson was due a $2.15 million roster bonus if still on the roster today. Instead, his release freed $6.15 million of cap space, giving the Bills room to sign a free agent or to make a trade for a veteran to compete with Alex Van Pelt for the starting quarterback job this fall.'

Marker Door still open for Cowart [5:05 AM]
D and C reports: 'General manager Tom Donahoe and representative Paul Healy were engaged in late-night talks in Indianapolis, site of the NFL scouting combine.'
The Bills did not extend offers to their four other unrestricted free agents: starting center Bill Conaty; defensive end Shawn Price; cornerback Lance Brown and long-snapper Mo Unutoa.

Marker Kelly upset about closing of hospital [5:05 AM]
D and C reports: 'Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly announced a rally Saturday to protest a plan to close Children's Hospital in Buffalo.'

Marker Rob Johnson's Highlights and lowlights [5:03 AM]
D and C reports: 'Highlights and lowlights of Rob Johnson's four-year stay in Buffalo...'.

Marker Van Pelt tops Bills depth chart after Johnson's release [5:01 AM]
AP reports: 'After spending most of his seven seasons in Buffalo as the team's third-stringer, he has now outlasted both Johnson and Doug Flutie.'

Marker Jeff Blake - Worthy of being a Bill? [12:10 AM]
Stadiumwall.com reports: If you are curious about QB Jeff Blake - here is a nice summary written last week on the Stadium Wall by our resident stat and fact queen Lori.

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February 28, 2002

Marker Price ready for second turn at free agency [9:29 PM]
AP reports: 'Not expecting a contract offer from the Buffalo Bills before the deadline Thursday night, defensive lineman Shawn Price prepared to become a free agent for the second straight year. And he's not worried.'

Marker Bills release Johnson [9:27 PM]
AP reports: 'The Bills also announced that they released veteran cornerback Ken Irvin, saving another $1.9 million in salary cap money.'

Marker Bills waive QB Rob Johnson [9:26 PM]
Sportsticker reports: 'The Bills are well under the $71.1 million salary cap before Friday's deadline, but were not willing to pay the price for Johnson after he endured a disappointing season under first-year coach Gregg Williams.'

Marker Prisco's top available free agents [8:57 PM]
CBS Sportsline reports: 'Prisco says "If he can get with the right team, with some decent players, he can be an effective starter." He rates Johnson ahead of Jim Miller who Bills are considering. Bill Conaty also makes his list at Center at #5.'

Marker Dilfer could finally be head of QB class [8:50 PM]
ESPN reports: @ Tony Banks and Jim Miller are the only fulltime starters from last season on the this year's list of 15 unrestricted free agent QBs. The Bills might look at Miller and Saints quarterback Jeff Blake, who will be traded or cut, now that they've released unpopular starter Rob Johnson.

Marker Buffalo can't agree with Johnson; cuts him [4:58 PM]
ESPN reports: 'GM Tom Donahoe said that the team has released the frequently injured seven-year veteran. "I just think it's time we both moved on," Donahoe said. The departure of Johnson, 28, will save the Bills a whopping $6.15 million on their 2002 salary cap, as Buffalo avoids paying his $4 million base salary and $2.15 million roster bonus that was due Friday. The Bills will have to carry a $5.075 million cap charge for Johnson, the remaining prorated share of his signing bonus. The club has discussed with New Orleans Saints officials a trade that would bring veteran quarterback Jeff Blake to Buffalo, a deal that could take place as early as this weekend if some hurdles are overcome.'

Marker Its Over. Johnson and Irvin Released [4:53 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: @ The Bills today announced that the club has released quarterback Rob Johnson and defensive back Ken Irvin.

Marker Kelly, Goo Goo Dolls protest plan to close Children's Hospital [3:01 PM]
AP reports: Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and Goo Goo Dolls' bass player Robby Takac announced a rally Saturday to protest a plan to close Children's Hospital. ''This is something that's dear to my heart and very special to me,'' Kelly said Thursday. ''You can look at all the great things that the Buffalo Bills and myself have done in the past. But when it comes to family ... this is about as important as it gets.''

Marker Williams, Donahoe and deja vu [1:47 PM]
Niagara Falls Reporter reports: 'Releasing Johnson and saying goodbye to Cowart would give the Bills cap room. It would also leave them with at least as many holes as they took into training camp last year.'

Marker It would be a mistake if Bills lose Cowart [1:28 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'Yet this is still Sam Cowart, the playmaker and leader-by-example in the locker room. He doesn't TALK a good game...he plays one.'

Marker Update on Al Bemiller [12:21 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: @ Al Bemiller was the center for the Bills from 1961-1969 and still lives in Buffalo. Right now he is working for the NY state correctional services as a recreational leader in a prison.

Marker Buffalo Bill to Broadcaster [12:15 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: @ A number of Bills players have made the transition from player to broadcaster and Fred Smerlas, Paul Maguire, Ron Pitts and Ahmad Rashad are just a few.

Marker Rob says he's gone - and glad about it [9:01 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'When asked how he felt about leaving the Bills, Johnson sounded more relieved than disappointed.'

Marker Johnson expects to be cut [5:21 AM]
D and C reports: '''I'm kind of happy,'' he said. ''It hasn't been an easy situation there. Every off-season there's been something, whether it was me or Doug (Flutie), or new coaches, so it'll be a fresh start.'''

Marker Time running out on Cowart [5:20 AM]
D and C reports: 'Working in Cowart's favor is that his was only a partial tear. Healy said his client has been given second positive opinions by noted orthopedic surgeons in New York, Alabama and Florida.'

February 27, 2002

Marker Cowart's talks progressing; Bills have other decisions to make [8:39 PM]
AP reports: '"Everybody's saying, 'What's going to happen tomorrow?"' Healy said. "From our point of view, if nothing does happen tomorrow or even the next day, we have not foreclosed the possibility of still working out something with the Bills."'

Marker Kreutz leads thin free-agent class [4:46 PM]
ESPN.com reports: Len Pasquerelli rates Sam Cowart 24th best free agent.

Played just one game in 2001 and coming off Achilles surgery, yet asking for a $10.5 million signing bonus. If he regains his sanity, will have a market, since a few more teams are switching to 3-4 front.

Marker Bills not interested in re-signing Carpenter [1:21 PM]
AP reports: 'The Buffalo Bills have elected not to offer safety Keion Carpenter a new contract, allowing him to become a free agent on Friday.'

Marker 5 of 7 RFAs tendered thus far; 2 EFA's not expected back [12:12 PM]
WGR reports: @ Chris Brown of WGR reports that Safety Pierson Prioleau has been tendered a qualifying tender offer of $563,000. He joins Shawn Bryson, Jay Foreman, Sheldon Jackson, and Keith Newman as Restricted Free Agents who rights have been kept. Chris Watson and Keion Carpenter have not yet. The Bills have decided not to tender Craig Heimburger an offer; in addition Kenyatta Wright was not tendered an offer but may be back in the Spring.

Marker Greener pastures [9:04 AM]
Buffalo News reports: '"What I look at as a real positive is the fact that last January we had 38 players under contract and were $19 million over the cap. This year by the end of the week we'll have close to 60 players and we'll be under the cap."'

Marker Falcons' list of GM prospects down to two [8:36 AM]
Atlanta Journal Constitution reports: 'That would leave Buffalo director of football operations Tom Modrak, a highly accomplished player personnel man, and Seattle executive vice president Mike Reinfeldt, a polished administrator.'

Marker It's time for Bills to sack Johnson [5:30 AM]
D and C reports: 'History will not judge Rob's time here kindly.'

February 26, 2002

Marker AFC East: Free agency breakdown [8:17 PM]
Pro Football Weekly reports: @ Cowart's and Johnson's contracts have issues related to their injures. Beyond those two problems, the Bills shouldn't have much competition for most of their remaining free agents. Bills observers believe the remaining UFAs shouldn't receive too much attention on the market, and the Bills certainly would like to have Conaty and [Shawn] Price back for their leadership qualities.

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