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Buffalo Bills News - March 5, 2004

Marker Vikings agree to terms with free agent CB Winfield [9:46 PM]
Sportsticker reports: 'A 1999 first-round pick, Winfield spent his first five seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Despite being just 5-9, he is an aggressive cover corner.'

Marker Vikings Sign Winfield [9:45 PM] reports: 'VU has been told the contract total is $34.8 million over six years with a $10.8 million signing bonus. Under the terms of the deal, Winfield is guaranteed $12.5 million in the first year of the contract with signing bonus and base salary combined.'

Marker Winfield ends up with Vikings [9:44 PM]
The Sports Network reports: 'Winfield, who spent the first five seasons of his career with the Buffalo Bills, reportedly came to terms with New York on Thursday after meeting with team all day. While the Jets said no deal was ever reached, published reports indicated Winfield backed off due to personal reasons.'

Marker Minnesota Signs Target Free Agent [9:43 PM] reports: 'Were excited to add our target free agent, said Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice. Weve quietly taken care of our top two priorities with Antoine and Jimmy Kleinsasser. Everyone in the organization worked extremely hard to get these deals done and Im proud of everyone for the job they did.'

Marker Winfield backs away from Jets deal [9:43 PM]
ESPN reports: 'Winfield lacks prototype cornerback stature but, at 5-feet-9 and 180 pounds, plays bigger than his size and is known for his aggressive approach to the game. His one shortcoming is a lack of big plays, as evidenced by his interception total, but that didn't seem to scare off any of his suitors.'

Marker Pro Days A Necessary Evil [4:17 PM] reports: 'They're called Pro Days, the chance for top college prospects to give NFL teams one final look at what they have to offer at the professional level. But the workout, which usually takes place on the player's college campus, carries more importance for those athletes who bypassed the opportunity to work out at the Indianapolis combine.'

Marker Change in plans [3:47 PM]
CNN/SI reports: Winfield, formerly with the Buffalo Bills, will receive a six-year deal from Minnesota that is worth just shy of $35 million. The deal includes a $10.5 million signing bonus.

Marker Cornerback Winfield backs out of Jets' deal [10:19 AM]
Staten Island Advance reports: 'Winfield's agent, Richard Katz, was believed to be in favor of Winfield signing the deal. But the player wanted to make other visits, in part because the Minnesota Vikings convinced Winfield he was the top cornerback in free agency and needed to explore the market rather than sign with the first team he visited.'

Marker Bruener in running to join Bills [8:54 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Bruener was known as the National Football League's best blocking tight end for much of his career. After enduring injury-plagued seasons in 2001 and 2002, he found himself as the Steelers' No. 3 tight end last year. He saw little action behind Jay Riemersma and Jerame Tuman. Bruener missed four games with a knee injury in 2002 and seven with a shoulder injury in 2001.'

Marker Bills' Williams among award recipients [8:53 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Pat Williams will be among those honored Thursday as Kevin Guest House holds its annual Heart Awards luncheon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Transit Valley Country Club, Amherst. Williams will receive the Kevin Garvey Award for Courage.'

Marker Making video for Bills [8:52 AM]
Buffalo News reports: 'The Buffalo Bills retained Scene and Herd Productions, a Buffalo-based film and video production company, to produce a 45-second game day video to be shown immediately prior to kick-off at Ralph Wilson stadium.'

Marker Bills know what Bruener has to offer [5:16 AM]
Rochester D&C reports: 'Bruener owes his reputation as one of the NFLs top blocking tight ends and most consistent performers in large measure to what he learned under Mularkey, himself a former NFL tight end. Mike is somebody who has a burning desire to win and hes willing to do whatever it takes to win, said Bruener, who was released last week.'

Marker Winfield backs off signing with Jets [5:15 AM]
New York Post reports: 'Because neither Winfield nor his agent returned phone calls, it's unclear what those reported personal problems are, but this sure smacks of the agent using the Jets for leverage to up his client's price before prancing off to other, richer, suitors.'

Marker Winfield Jets away [5:14 AM]
New York Daily News reports: 'Face it: The Jets got jilted by the top player on their wish list, the last thing they needed after their embarrassing offseason in 2003.'

Marker Winfield backs off [5:13 AM]
New York Newsday reports: 'But in a bizarre twist, it appeared that other teams who'd been scheduled to meet with Winfield intervened while the Jets were trying to close the deal.'

Marker CB Winfield backs out of Jets' deal [5:12 AM]
Newark Star Ledger reports: 'Winfield's agent, Richard Katz, was believed to be in favor of Winfield signing the deal. But the player wanted to make other visits, in part because the Minnesota Vikings convinced Winfield he was the top cornerback in free agency and needed to explore the market rather than sign with the first team he visited.'

Marker Winfield, near a deal with Jets, still might visit [5:11 AM]
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: 'The Vikings rank cornerback as their top need and have more room under the salary cap than any other NFL team, about $30 million. Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell was Winfield's defensive coordinator for two of his five seasons in Buffalo.'

Marker Late-night turnabout [5:10 AM]
St. Paul Pioneer Press reports: 'Cornerback Antoine Winfield had pen in hand, ready to sign a $30 million contract with the New York Jets, when the Vikings managed to whisk him away from the Big Apple on a private airplane late Thursday night.'

Marker Winfield backs away from Jets deal [5:09 AM]
ESPN reports: Late in the evening, as the two sides were finalizing the deal, Winfield backed away for what sources described as personal reasons. And the Jets, who had been expected to introduce the newest addition to a rebuilding defense at a Friday news conference could now see Winfield make some visits to other clubs that have been pursuing him.

Marker Winfield waffles on Jets offer [5:08 AM]
AP reports: 'If Winfield does not end up with the Jets, it would be a huge embarrassment for a franchise hoping to make up for a disastrous 2003.'

Marker Winfield Balks on Deal [5:07 AM] reports: 'Winfield was being scouted by the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans and could still arrange to visit those teams. At 5-feet-9 Winfield is considered a first rate cover corner. But in his five years as a Buffalo Bill had just six interceptions.'

Marker Bengals re-tool defense [5:06 AM] reports: 'But Adams said its a good bet Bober wont sign anywhere until he visits Buffalo and the man who groomed him in New York, new Bills offensive line coach Jim McNally.'

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March 4, 2004

Marker Bruener And Pass Visit The Bills [9:09 PM]
WGR-AM reports: 'Free agent FB Patrick Pass was also in Orchard Park. He's more of a special teams guy with 12 special teams tackles and a 23.1 yards per attempt on kickoff returns. He was a 7th round pick three years ago by the World Champion Patriots out of Georgia.'

Marker Villarrial Joins Bills [9:08 PM]
Indiana Gazette reports: 'In Buffalo, Villarrial will play for Director of Football Operations Tom Donahoe, and his assistant, Tom Modrak, both of whom are IUP graduates.'

Marker It was time for Brown, Bills to part [4:25 PM]
Olean Times Herald reports: 'According to Donahoe, “sometimes you do it for change” and, in this case, that’s exactly what Ruben and the Bills needed.'

Marker Bruener Says He's Healthy and Can Contribute [4:24 PM] reports: '"This is my first free agent visit. I've had the great luxury of being with the Pittsburgh Steelers for nine years. This is a unique opportunity for me to see how another organization is run and see the personnel. It's a great opportunity for me to see some familiar faces in a different organization. I'm really impressed with what I see here in regards to the direction that Tom Donahoe and Mike Mularkey are trying to pursue. I'm really excited about what I've seen so far."'

Marker Pro Bowl CB Vincent Finds Buffalo Attractive [4:23 PM] reports: '"Oh yes. You know what teams are going to be in need of a particular position. I knew there would be a chance that Antoine (Winfield) wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be in Philly and that the market would be open. It's not far from home so of course it was a squad that myself and my wife looked at real hard to see if it was a good fit."'

Marker Moulds hoping Bills land speedy receiver [4:22 PM]
AP reports: '''People have that expectation from being in Buffalo of going to four Super Bowls, and as a player you want to continue that tradition,'' Moulds said. ''You feel like it's your responsibility to keep things going and the last few years we haven't done that."'

Marker Bills bring in two players for visits [4:22 PM]
AP reports: 'The Buffalo Bills' courting of free agents continued on Thursday as they met with tight end Mark Bruener and fullback Patrick Pass.'

Marker Who are the early winners and losers in free agency? [3:59 PM]
Pro Football Weekly reports: The Bills quietly reached an accord with ORG Chris Villarrial, and at a bargain price (four years, $12 million). Villarrial is 31, but hes a mauler who is rarely beaten or penalized and, along with underachieving ORT Mike Williams, puts Buffalo in position to have the best right side of an offensive line in the NFL. Somewhere, RBs Travis Henry and Willis McGahee are smiling.

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