Bills GM was only teasing

There was general manager Buddy Nix on Buffalo radio this week throwing around terms like being...

There was general manager Buddy Nix on Buffalo radio this week throwing around terms like being “aggressive” in free agency; talking about going after a “difference-maker”. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images/AFP)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:03 PM ET

For just a second there, it sounded as if the Buffalo Bills might do something crazy — like field a competitive NFL team.

But then, the Bills do what they always do — they played the tease.

There was general manager Buddy Nix on Buffalo radio this week throwing around terms like being “aggressive” in free agency; talking about going after a “difference-maker”. It was enough to give a Bills fan visions of Peyton Manning or DeSean Jackson dancing in their end zone. Suddenly, there might be visions of Indianapolis free agent Robert Mathis or Jacksonville’s Jeremy Mincey come rushing off the edge.

“When I say we’re gonna be aggressive, what I mean is this time if there’s a difference-maker — not necessarily a position — but if there’s a guy that can come in here and immediately improve our football team, we’ll get in the hunt early this time,” Nix said.

That sounds like big changes. Big names. Big dreams.

Instead, it may just be another big lie — and we mean that in the nicest sense. Nix, in the tradition of Bills teams for more than a decade now, threw it all away.

“Our philosophy, or mine, or ours is that those big-money guys that hit the market at 12:01 or midnight, the way it used to be, if you’re not careful you’ll overspend on those guys and not get what you pay for,” Nix said. “We’ve been one to think you can pick up good players later on in free agency, and I’m talking about guys like Nick Barnett, receivers that we’ve picked up. They’re out there and they’ll be out there and that’s kind of been our philosophy along with building through the draft.”

Great. They’re sticking to their philosophy.

Good plan. You know, considering how well that it has worked out so far.

With the Bills intent on building through the draft, they could do worse than by selecting Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin.

Buffalo has the 10th pick, which makes it quite possible that Martin — ranked as one of the top three tackles in the draft — could wind up protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backside. One or two of the top nine teams in the draft are expected to take a left tackle.

Martin made 37 starts for the Cardinal and didn’t do a bad job protecting some guy named Andrew Luck. Stanford’s pro-style offence should also help him break into the NFL quicker than most offensive linemen. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock has called him “the prototypical left tackle,” making him the kind of player who could help a team right away. And the Bills could use a little help right away.

Asked the best football lessons he learned in college, Martin said: “How to work and absorb a playbook, because our playbook was probably more advanced than some NFL playbooks. So just how to process all that and prepare weekly.”

PAIN IN THE BUCK?

The Indianapolis Star reports on its social media outlet that Manning is currently working out in Florida and “throwing much, much better.”

This comes just a few weeks after word that his arm was so weak he couldn’t knock a buzzard off a haywagon if someone spotted him a howitzer.

Observation: This latest update comes just as Manning is likely to become a free agent. It all might be true. It might also be all too convenient.

Conclusion: Two words. Bidders beware!

FAIR BUT FOUL

The Saints say the contract offer is fair. Drew Brees says the deal is fair.

Too bad they’re not talking about the same deal. The two sides are about $5 million US a year apart in the first three years of their proposals.

Brees, who last season broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing yards record, is seeking a contract that averages $23 million per season for the first three years, sources told ESPN. That’s the same amount that Manning’s contract averages the first three seasons.

The Saints are offering a five-year contract averaging $18 million a year, the average Manning and New England’s Tom Brady are due to earn over the life of their deals.

In other words, everyone is still talking but nobody is listening.

QUICK HITS

With Jahvid Best’s head hurting and Mikel Leshoure on the mend from an Achilles tendon, the Lions might want to look at Mike Tolbert to fill their hole at running back. Kevin Smith may return as a free agent but Tolbert is a good blocker and he can catch, which makes him a nice complement for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Plus, he’ll be relatively cheap ... Baltimore has released Chris Carr and Lee Evans ... James Farrior was released Friday, joining Hines Ward, defensive end Aaron Smith, and guard Chris Kemoeatu as freshly minted ex-Steelers. Pittsburgh has cut roughly $37.4 million off its salary cap figure with all of its restructuring and releases.

***

Matt Schaub will light up an airport scanner quicker than a defensive secondary these days.

The Houston quarterback had more metal implanted than a low-flying goose on the opening day of hunting season when doctors repaired a foot injury.

But after a follow-up procedure in April, only a tiny screw will be left to hold bone and ligament together.

“That’s customary,” he said, “and all the people I’ve talked to who’ve had the surgery told me it’s not a problem.”

Schaub said this week that his rebuilt right foot — damaged Nov. 13 when Albert Haynesworth stepped on him — is healing and he expects to be ready for training camp.

“I’m fine. No pain,” Schaub said, noting he might be able to participate in May’s organized team activities. “It’s going great. I’m a little ahead of the game. It’s a matter of strengthening and making sure everything stays to form in there with the hardware in my foot.”

***

Evidently there is crying in football.

Lots of it. With his family, teammates and management watching, Kris Dielman officially announced his retirement in what San Diego media described as an “emotionally raw press conference”.

“I had nine great years. It just sucks it had to end this way. But it is ... I gave everything I have. It ended a little early, but it is the right thing to do.” Dielman said, as his wife, Sandy, used their baby’s blanket to wipe her tear-streaked face.

Young players such as Ryan Mathews and Louis Vasquez watched in rapt attention. Other teammates could be seen quickly wiping tears. “I know it ends sooner than he would have (wished),” qaurterback Philip Rivers said, his voice quivering throughout. “But, gosh, what he did for nine years here is pretty remarkable. It doesn’t happen very often. It’s something to be proud of. I know every guy in here is proud of him and appreciates all he did. We’ll be buddies for a long time.”

Dielman is the latest athlete to suffer too many concussions to allow him to continue playing - the latest resulting in a gran mal seizure on a team flight after an Oct. 23 game. After speaking, Rivers hugged Dielman and told him, “I love you.”

Dielman was inserted at left guard in the second game of the 2005 season and started all but three of the next 107 games. He was named in 2009 as one of the best 50 Chargers of all time

***

Franchise tags were being handed out like dime-store candy on Friday, but it looks like the Detroit Lions will get their shot at Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan.

While reports indicate that Tennessee will let Finnegan walk as a free agent, several other teams collared stars for at least one more season.

The Seahawks have decided to place their tag on former Bills running back Marshawn Lynch if they can’t reach a contract agreement by Monday’s deadline for franchising players. The 25-year-old Lynch rushed for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011. It was his best NFL season, and the first time he had surpassed 1,000 yards since 2008 when he played with Buffalo.

The Redskins informed tight end Fred Davis they would be tagging him. And the Ravens revealed they plan to do likewise with running back Ray Rice. The 25-year-old Rice led the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage.

San Francisco is holding on to safety Dashon Goldson, tagging him for what will be about $6.2 million for the 2012 season. The Carroll County Times reported Friday that the Lions will franchise tag defensive end Cliff Avril on Monday. The tag would carry with it a $10.6 million salary.

The value of franchise tags varies but basically it amounts to the average of the five highest paid players at a specific position.

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff announced cornerback Brent Grimes will get tagged for somewhere in the $10-million neighbourhood.

***

It’s The Big Lie: Exhibit Innumerable.

Well, maybe lie is an exaggeration, but it’s definitely a prevarication running amok again.

This week, the 49ers and Ahmad Brooks’ agent announced a six-year deal worth $44.5 million.

But, as per usual with NFL contracts, it was blown way out of proportion.

Often contracts aren’t guaranteed. So it is with Brooks’ deal. ProFootballTalk.com quotes league sources as revealing there is an annual club option to cancel the deal.

Brooks is guaranteed one year and $8.25 million with approximately another $9 million in injury guarantees. Still sweet. But nowhere near as sweet as advertised.

Players rarely ever play out the life of a contract to its full value. But having all those nice, fat numbers quoted sounds good, makes the clubs look big-hearted and it helps agents recruit clients.

***

Perrish Cox might not have been found guilty.

But the extent of his innocence likely will remain forever a matter of conjecture and interpretation.

The former Denver cornerback, whose DNA matched that of the baby of a woman he was accused of raping, has been acquitted of sexual assault charges.

When the verdict came Friday in a Colorado courtroom, the alleged victim let out a cry. As she left the courtroom she said: “Oh my God, what’s happening?”

What happened according to prosecutors was a straightforward case. They cited the DNA evidence, as well as testimony from Cox’s teammate, Demaryius Thomas, who said that after a night of drinking that he saw Cox carry her on to his bed and say: “She’s ready.”

Cox was accused of assaulting a woman at his apartment in September 2010 after a night of partying. While not initially reporting the incident, she became pregnant, and prosecutors said DNA tests indicated Cox was the father.

Cox denied having sex with the woman, who testified that she believed she was drugged because she remembers little about what happened. Cox hugged his attorney who had disputed the DNA test results and suggested they may have been contaminated.

Charged with one count of sexual assault while the victim was physically helpless, and one count of sexual assault while the victim was incapable of determining the nature of the conduct, Cox still may face a civil suit.

Cox didn’t play last season and this incident isn’t likely to help him change that next season.


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