Friday, February 22, 2013

Bills’ plans for impending free agents shaping up


Buffalo Bills CEO Russ Brandon and general manager Buddy Nix were pretty adamant Thursday about not wanting to use the team’s franchise tag this offseason, but they may be singing a different tune after the NFL Scouting Combine.

The Bills have a few key players set to hit the free-agent market in March, all of whom they seem eager to retain. (photo: Matt Britt, Flickr)

As it has in the past, Buffalo is using the Combine as a meeting place, hoping to solidify contracts before open season begins on March 12.

According to Joe Buscaglia of WGR550, Brandon said the team plans to meet with free agent offensive lineman Andy Levitre this weekend, the second such meeting the team has planned for the trip. The Bills have already confirmed that they plan to talk to safety Jairus Byrd, the team’s other high-profile UFA and one who seems most likely to get tagged if need be.

Buffalo's front office is hoping negotiations can go as they did last year with wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who talked with the team during Combine weekend and then signed a multi-year deal just weeks later.

“You can have a pretty damn good framework coming out of here if both parties are in a position to strike a deal. ... It'll go fast and furious for the next few days,” Brandon told Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. “It's (tag option) a tool that's there as collectively bargained, but from our standpoint, we're focused on trying to get long-term deals done."

Nix mimicked Brandon’s thoughts while talking with, saying that he won’t rule out use of the tag but would rather not have to go that route.

“Absolutely it’s an option,” Nix said. “It’s part of the process and part of the rule and if it comes to that, we’d rather not, but if it comes to that we’ll take advantage of it. We’re in pretty good shape and we’ve got cap space even though I read sometimes that we’re in trouble.

"We’re going to be a player probably in free agency at some point. It may not be the first day or two, but we’ll be looking for guys that can come in and help us and take some pressure off the draft. We think we can be active and go places.”

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