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Bills will reimburse employees on pay

The Buffalo Bills will reimburse their employees for 100 percent of the back pay that they lost during the five-month NFL lockout, a team source told The News. Like numeorus teams, the Bills had cut pay for all employees at One Bills Drive on a percentage basis, up to 25 percent. The Bills will give that money back to the employees now that the lockout is over. The employees will go back to their full previous salary before the lockout and their 401K plans also have been restored back to the start of the lockout in March.

---Mark Gaughan

Wilson on new labor deal

The Bills released the following statement from owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr.: “I am happy that the players and the owners have reached an agreement. This has been a long, arduous process for everyone. But in the end, we have a deal that is fair to both our players and the teams and, at the same time, protects the integrity of our game heading into the future. And that is extremely important as we move forward. To our fans, I say thank you for your patience and your understanding during these past four months. So with this great news today, it is time for all of us to focus on the 2011 season and look ahead to Training Camp. I’m excited about the direction our team is heading as we enter the upcoming season and I know our players and fans share in that excitement.”

---Mark Gaughan

Dareus in line for about $22M

Buffalo Bills first-round draft pick Marcell Dareus figures to score a contract worth about $22 million over the first four years under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement in the NFL. The labor deal has a new rookie wage scale. First-overall pick Cam Newton of Carolina would be in line for $22.03 million over the first four years, according to a summary of the rookie scale outlined by the league. We presume the third pick would get about that much. The clubs will have the option to retain first-round draft picks for a fifth year. That option must be exercised after the third year of the contract. For a top-10 pick, the option year would be worth the amount of the "transition label" tender for that fourth year of the contract. That means it's worth the average of the top 10 paid players at his position. Defensive tackle and defensive end have roughly the same transition tender for the coming year, about $10 million. Figuring in 5 percent increases per year, Dareus' fifth year would be worth about $11.4 million. So that's about $33.4 million over five years. Not too shabby. Last year's third overall pick, Gerald McCoy of Tampa, signed a deal that was worth $55 million over the first five years. Of course, if Dareus plays like the Bills hope, that fifth-year tender offer won't matter. They'll be re-signing him to a bigger contract extension. But that's way down the road. Let's let Dareus have a strong rookie year before worrying about his five-year value.

---Mark Gaughan

Friday camp would be 15 days

Now that the NFL collective bargaining agreement has been approved by each of the 32 team player representatives, we await official word on the opening of Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. Teams can not open camp, according to the CBA, earlier than 15 days before the first preseason game. That would make for a Friday opening in Pittsford, which essentially would be the date the Bills usually open camp. The Bills' first preseason game is Aug. 13 at Chicago. The second is Aug. 20 at Denver. It's actually a slight - with the emphasis on slight - benefit to the Buffalo home fans that the last two preseason games are at home. The third preseason game is the most significant, and the fourth is sometimes slightly watchable due to the focus on the battle for the final roster spots.

The Bills issued a statement from owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. on the end of the lockout:

“I am happy that the players and the owners have reached an agreement. This has been a long, arduous process for everyone. But in the end, we have a deal that is fair to both our players and the teams and, at the same time, protects the integrity of our game heading into the future. And that is extremely important as we move forward. To our fans, I say thank you for your patience and your understanding during these past four months. So with this great news today, it is time for all of us to focus on the 2011 season and look ahead to Training Camp. I’m excited about the direction our team is heading as we enter the upcoming season and I know our players and fans share in that excitement.”

 

---Mark Gaughan

Golisano stokes the fire on Bills' future

The future of the Buffalo Bills, that age-old topic endlessly feared by the team's fans, was once again a topic of conversation this week after comments made by former Sabres owner Tom Golisano during an interview with a Virginia television station.

"I'm concerned about the Buffalo Bills, ever leaving the community of Buffalo, I think it would be a terrible shame," Golisano said. "I have made the commitment that if that likelihood appears to be happening, I will try and get involved and see what I can do to prevent it."

The full video can be found at this link. Fast forward to the 2:35 mark if you want to skip the political discourse.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Jim Kelly, Dan Marino autographed gear among Borrelli raffle prizes

As we lead up to the third annual Tom Borrelli Memorial Golf Tournament on July 27, many of us at The News are selling raffle tickets to raise money for the Borrelli Award and Scholarship Fund.

TomborrelligolftornlogoTickets are $5 each or three for $10. A great lineup of prizes include: a Jim Kelly autographed football; a Dan Marino autographed mini-helmet; a Ryan Miller autographed goalie stick; a framed Masters print from Augusta National; a Buffalo Bills golf bag and a $50 restaurant gift certificate.

The drawing will take place at the golf tournament on July 27 at Holland Hills (participants do not need to be present to win). 

If you would like to purchase tickets, email me at kmcshea@buffnews.com. 

Those from out of town can place an order with me, mail me a check and I'll monitor your tickets to see if you have won on Wednesday.

We've been fortunate that a number of people have taking a block of tickets to sell to their own group or organization -- if you are interested in doing so, send an email as well.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Bills with majority this time

The NFL voted 31-0 Thursday to ratify a new collective-bargaining agreement with the players, and the Buffalo Bills were with the majority. The Oakland Raiders abstained. In 2006, of course, the only the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals voted against the CBA extension, and by two years later the rest of the teams were against the deal and voted to opt out of it.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday night that the new deal does include a supplemental-revenue sharing system. A supplemental revenue system, aimed at helping lower-revenue teams, was added to the previous deal only after intense lobbying by Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr.

---Mark Gaughan 

Bills backers plan S.D. party

Bills fans who love road trips have a tough decision to make this year. There are great football destinations on the Bills' road schedule - including Kansas City on Sept. 11, Dallas on Nov. 13, Miami on Nov. 20 and San Diego on Dec. 11. The Bills Backers in San Diego are spreading the word about a big tailgate party they are holding before the Dec. 11 game. They have rented out the Chargers' practice field and are expecting a crowd of about 1,000. They're making game tickets available, too. Game and tailgate tickets cost $130. A ticket for just the tailgate is $60. They have other weekend activities planned. Go to www.sdbbc.org for details.

---Mark Gaughan

Russert nails 'worsts'

NBC News correspondent Luke Russert was a guest on the ProFootballTalk website for the latest installment of each teams' "worst moments" since the last work stoppage - in 1987. It was hard to quibble with Russert's list of the Bills' five worst moments in that time period:

5-Week 17 loss at home to Pittsburgh's backups (29-24), which (probably) cost the Bills a playoff spot.

4-He squeezed two into this one - the 25-24 Monday night loss to Dallas in 2007 and the 25-24 Monday night loss at New England in the 2009 opener.

3-The Super Bowl 28 loss to Dallas in Atlanta.

2-The Immaculate Deception loss at Tennessee in the 2000 Wild Card playoff game.

1-The Super Bowl 25 loss to the Giants in Tampa.

"There are so many to choose from," Russert said. Now ... if he had to pick the five "ugliest" losses since '87 ... well, there just isn't enough time or space - even on the internet - to handle that task (although News columnist Jerry Sullivan has tried several times). The link to Russert's video is at http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/category/rumor-mill

---Mark Gaughan

 

Home-town discount on turf

It sure looks like Erie County got a good deal on the contract it signed to install new artificial turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Cheektowaga-based firm, A-Turf, won the bid, at $178,000, to replace the turf at the Orchard Park stadium. The work is being completed this week.

Minneapolis has been forced to replace the turf this offseason at the Metrodome, due to the fact the roof collapsed at the domed stadium last year. A turf replacement wasn't in the plans. But because so much water sat on the turf for so long, the turf had to go. The stadium authority in Minneapolis is paying $495,000 to have a Georgia-based company, Shaw Sportexe, install new turf for this season.

Of course, it's two different jobs, and the specifications and repairs no doubt are not exactly the same. But it's obvious Erie County is getting its money's worth.

---Mark Gaughan

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