We speculated in this space the bidding would get wild on the free-agent market for Atlanta right tackle Tyson Clabo. We were wrong.
Make no mistake, Clabo agreed to a good contract with the Falcons Thursday night. He OK'd a five-year, $25 million deal that could rise to $27 million, according to ESPN's John Clayton. That's real money. But that deal doesn't make him close to the top-paid right tackle in the game. Miami's Vernon Carey is playing on a deal worth $42 million over seven years. Tennessee's David Stewart is playing on a deal that pays $39 million over six years. ... And the Bills paid Langston Walker $25 million over five years way back, four years ago in 2007.
Clabo himself said the Bills were in the running for his services. Conclusion: For whatever reason, right or wrong, the Bills were not "overheated" about siging Clabo. Clabo had been waiting for this chance at free agency. He was in Donte Whitner's situation - he would have been a free agent last year, but the rules changes in the uncapped year forced him to be a restricted free agent in 2010 and remain tied to the Falcons. So if another team had blown away Atlanta's bid it should have been able to sign him. The Bills, it turns out, didn't want Clabo as badly as some fans wanted him.
The Bills announced the signing of three more draft choices. Fourth-round pick Chris Hairston, sixth-rounder Chris White and seventh-rounder Justin Rogers signed contracts with the team. Hairston is an offensive tackle from Clemson. White is an inside linebacker from Mississippi State and Rogers is a cornerback from Richmond. Hairston will wear 75, White 50 and Rogers 42.
---The Bills offically announced 19 undrafted rookie free agents which includes former St. Joe's and UB cornerback Domonic Cook. Here's the complete list:
LS Danny Aiken, Virginia
WR Kamar Aiken, Central Florida
DB Rajric Coleman, Utah State
CB Domonic Cook, UB
LB Robert Eddins, Ball State
P Reid Forrest, Washington State
DB Sidney Glover, West Virginia
K Chris Hazley, Virginia Tech
LB Brandon Hicks, Florida
LB Brad Jefferson, Georgia Tech
DE T.J. Langley, Arkansas Tech
CB Loyce Means, Houston
CB Doyle Miller, Nevada
RB Emmanuel Moody, Florida
DB Joshua Nesbitt, Georgia Tech
TE Zack Pianalto, North Carolina
C Michael Switzer, Ball State
RB Vai Taua, Nevada
G Isaiah Thompson, Houston
New Buffalo Bills receiver Brad Smith says he got a good feeling about Buffalo coach Chan Gailey before making his decision to agree to terms with the team today.
“I liked Coach Gailey," Smith told The News. "He was very straight-forward. He has a plan for what he wants to get done. And most importantly, his goal is to win a Super Bowl. That’s always been my goal. To do it in a great football town like Buffalo would be unbelievable."
Smith, who played the past four years with the New York Jets, thinks Gailey can make creative use of his running, catching and throwing ability.
“I believe so," Smith said. "But I received no promises, nothing like that. I just want to come in and have an opportunity to compete and help the football team. I think that’s the vibe I got from the coaches, the staff, the front office, they’re trying to build something, everybody’s working together, understanding their roles and coming together to win games. That’s the bottom line."
Smith didn't get a lot of chances to play receiver with the Jets, who had a stacked lineup ahead of him at the position for most of his tenure. He'd like more chances at receiver, but refrained from campaigning for that role.
"Yeah, the whole thing is to play the game and do what you feel you can do to help the football team," Smith said. "You have to be on the field to do that. The Jets gave me a tremendous, tremendous start. They drafted me. And I love them ‘till the day I die because they mean a lot to me. But at the same time, the Bills and Coach Gailey and his staff have a vision for me, and it’s all encompassed around getting to the Super Bowl and winning it, and I want to be a part of it."
The Bills have reached an agreement with Jets swingman Brad Smith, in a move that comes as a surprise given the Bills' crowded cast of wide receivers. Smith is a weapon that will get the creative gears in Chan Gailey's head turning.
Smith is a special teams ace, a Wildcat quarterback threat and a part-time receiver. He ranked second in the NFL last season in kickoff returns, with a 28.6-yard average. He has three kick returns for TDs in his five seasons. He's also a demon on kick coverage. He was one of the Jets' leading tacklers on special teams. He was a star quarterback in college at Missouri, although the Jets used him at QB only in spot duty in the Wildcat package.
Smith threw a touchdown pass against the Bills in Orchard Park last year - a 3-yarder to Dustin Keller. But he only threw seven passes in five seasons. He was used more as a runner in a variety of ways, on reverses, out of a full-house backfield and in the Wildcat. He had 98 rushes for 767 yards, a 7.8 yard average. He had five rushes for 60 yards in the season-finale against the BIlls' last-ranked run defense.
Smith never developed into much of a receiver for the Jets. He had four catches last year, seven in '09 and 12 in '08. He never was used in the three-wide package unless there were injuries, and the Jets didn't use a four-wide set much. Smith had 32 catches - but only for a 10.2-yard average - in 2007 when he was pressed into a bigger WR role due to injuries.
Smith's deal is worth a reported $3.25 million a year. That's not bit-player money. One would think he will get chances in the Bills' crowded wide-receiver lineup.
The Bills announced the signing of seventh-round draft choice Michael Jasper, aka the Man who Blots Out the Niagara Escarpment, today. He's the first of nine draftees to sign. We presume most of the others will come in reasonably quick order. Jasper weighed 448 pounds in January but was down to 375 in May. The Bills list him at 6-4 and 385. He's an intriguing project at nose tackle who played at Bethel University in McKenzie, Tenn. He played guard in college.
Atlanta Falcons free-agent offensive tackle Tyson Clabo confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a few minutes ago that his representative remains in talks with the Bills.
"It's a possibility. But nobody has agreed to terms or anything," Clabo told the paper. Atlanta wants to re-sign the right tackle, who made the Pro Bowl last season. Seattle reportedly was interested. But the Seahawks reached an agreement with offensive lineman Robert Gallery, which would seem to preclude them from making a big pitch to Clabo.
The question is the market value for Clabo. There's a chance that in order to get him away from the Falcons, Buffalo would have to pay him more than right tackle money. The Bills paid Langston Walker $5 million a year back in 2007. (Walker was represented by the same agent as head coach Dick Jauron, but we don't need to re-live that bad memory.) Clabo obviously would dwarf that deal. So if you have to pay Clabo more than $7 million to sign a year, you might as well play him at left tackle, correct?
Ex-Bill Jason Peters is about at the top of the left tackle pay chart. He signed a six-year, $60 million deal with the Eagles, but it actually included about $13 million a year in new money, because it was an extension. Carolina is paying Jordan Gross $9.3 million a year. San Diego is paying Marcus McNeill $8 million a year. Gross and McNeill are left tackles. Let the bidding continue.
Drayton Florence’s return gives the Buffalo Bills security – and intense competition - at the cornerback position. Florence announced his own agreement to terms with the Bills this afternoon. ESPN reports it’s a three-year deal worth $15 million.
Now the Bills’ defensive backfield has enough experience and a margin for error. Florence, Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin are the top returning veterans who will be battling for two starting spots. Florence beat out McKelvin last year to start the regular season. But then McGee was injured for much of the season and McKelvin wound up starting 14 games. McGee is fully healthy. Now the Bills are not in a crisis if one of their outside corners goes down with a sprained ankle.
Buffalo drafted Aaron Williams 34th overall out of the University of Texas. He adds size and a physical nature to the cornerback spot, which should be a benefit. Williams figures to see time right away as the third corner in obvious passing situations. That’s a role that has been filled mostly by Reggie Corner the past two years. Corner now has major competition and stands as the fifth on the depth chart at the position. The Bills have a sixth player they like, too, in Richmond rookie Justin Rogers, who is a strong bet to make the team, even though he’s a seventh-round draft choice. You can't have enough depth at cornerback because every team sees guys at the position go down for short periods with strained muscles and other minor ailments.
Bills free-agent cornerback Drayton Florence announced on his twitter account that he will re-sign with Buffalo. "It's official I'm back Buffalo See ya at fisher!!!!" - Florence twittered.
The NFL Network is reporting the Bills are among the teams talking with Atlanta right tackle Tyson Clabo. He's the top right tackle on the free-agent market and will draw a huge contract. Atlanta would like to keep him. Seattle reportedly is among the teams interested. Count on several others being in play, as well.