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Buffalo Bills News - February 23, 2002

Marker Donahoe doesn't play tag with Cowart [9:33 AM]
ESN reports: @When the time arrived for teams to designate franchise and transition players, the game of tag was not played by Donahoe. No franchise tag; no transition tag. No agreement is in sight and, as has been the case over the past couple of years, Bills fans are getting a little edgy as to what's going on. Bottom line? Cowart is ready to enter the free agent market since it doesn't seem likely that the two sides will budge. Of course, everything said before the March 1st free agency kicks in is rhetoric, posturing and positioning.

Marker Don't get me started on Sam Cowart and the Buffalo Bills [9:25 AM]
ESN reports: @There's a stalemate between Cowart and the Bills. Who is right? Who is Wrong? Will they ever get together or will next week arrive and the headline will read - "Sam Cowart tests free agency." Both sides are peppering the media. Cowart: "I want to stay and play in Buffalo." Donahoe: "We want Sam Cowart to play with the Buffalo Bills."

Marker Gregg Williams - ready for the challenge [8:26 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: @If you browse around the Internet (i.e. The Stadium Wall), you will read that the Buffalo Bills are in a sticky situation. A team too young, a coaching staff unproven. You can call it criticism or, if you take the approach of a guy like Gregg Williams, you can call it a challenge.

Marker Wegmans choice may be new turf over Bills [7:12 AM]
D and C reports: '"Wegmans is close to reaching sales and market share saturation in New York state, so the reinvestment opportunities are probably better in the new states," he said.'

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February 22, 2002

Marker 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.

Marker 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.

Marker Official Bills' press release of partner breakup with Wegmans [9:45 AM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Wegmans partnership breakup includes ticket sales and training camp.

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.

Marker 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."'

February 21, 2002

Marker 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).

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.

Marker 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).

Marker 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?

Marker 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.

February 20, 2002

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.

Marker 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?

Marker Billy Conaty offseason Q & A [7:05 PM]
BuffaloBills.com reports: Official Bills site catches up with free agent center, Billy Conaty.

Marker 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

February 19, 2002

Marker 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.

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.'

Marker 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.

Marker 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.

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