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Bills QB situation TBA

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey have been very non-committal about who will start at quarterback this season.

Nix was asked about it again Monday at the NFL owners meeting and once again he wouldn't let anything slip other than Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm are going to have a chance to compete for the job.

"I have no idea,'' Nix said of who will start. "I really don't know. I know that's what we got now, and it's open. Chan made that clear. We're going to see who comes out. The fact that those are the three guys we got, we like all three of them, all of them got redeeming qualities, but if something else comes available, we might add a fourth to the mix. I don't know."

---Allen Wilson

Nix likes free agent moves

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Buffalo Bills were slow out of the starting blocks when free agency began earlier this month because they didn't feel it was necessary. 

General Manager Buddy Nix certainly was not working the phones when the clock struck 12:01 a.m. on March 5. What was he doing at that time?

"Sleep,'' he said Monday at the NFL owners meetings. "They asked me if I was going to be there and I said, 'Hell naw, I ain't going to be there. I'm going to bed.''

Once Nix was awake, he began working on moves he hopes will help improve the Bills. He is very pleased with the free agent additions of right tackle Cornell Green, inside linebacker Andra Davis and defensive lineman Dwan Edwards.

"I think what we've done is we've added solid players with some veteran leadership ability,'' Nix said. "That's something we needed, especially going to a new defense. We've got guys who have played in that [3-4] scheme and will be able to help some of our younger guys.''

Nix added that the Bills are still evaluating free agency to see if there is anyone worth pursuing.

"We're not ruling out anything,'' he said. "We're always going to be looking. If something comes available and we think we can improve our team, we're not done. But we're not going to try and make something happen.''

---Allen Wilson

Nix has eyes for Okung

One of the interested spectators at Oklahoma State's Pro Day on Wednesday was Bills General Manager Buddy Nix, whose eyes were fixed on Cowboys offensive tackle Russell Okung. Nix spoke to Okung and his agent after the player's workout, according to

The Bills are expected to draft an offensive tackle in the first round, and Okung is considered to be the best of a deep crop. The odds of him being available to the Bills with the ninth pick is extremely slim. Nix knows this, but he also knows that it was important to check Okung out in the unlikely event he does slide in the draft.

A groin injury prevented Okung from completing his workout at the combine, so he participated in the four drills he missed. After running a 5.17-second 40-yard dash and bench pressing 225 pounds 38 times (second-best among offensive linemen) at the combine, he recorded a 32 1/2-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 8 feet, 9 inches at his Pro Day. Both figures would have ranked in the top 10 at his position at the combine. The results of the other drills were not available.

The workout surely secured Okung's status as the best offensive tackle in the draft. It will be a huge upset if a lineman is taken before him.

"I really haven't been trying to separate myself individually,'' Okung said after the workout. "I'm just trying to go out there and do what I do best ... and compete. If they like what they see, they like what they see.''

Undoubtedly, Nix and the other 26 NFL team representatives in attendance liked what they saw.

---Allen Wilson

Bills raise ticket prices

The Buffalo Bills are raising ticket prices for the 2010 season.

Season-ticket holders sitting along the sidelines in the lower bowl will pay $10 more than last year. Overall the prices will rise between $2 and $10 a game, depending on the seat.

The lower level sideline seats roughly between the 20s will cost $80 a game, up from $70, for season tickets. The lower-level sideline seats between the end zone and the 20 and in the lower middle of the upper deck will cost $70 a game, up from $60.

The NFL average for the prime lower bowl seats between the 20s last year was $104.45 a game. The NFL average for the lower-level sidelines nearer the goal lines and in the lower middle of the upper deck was $90.30 a game.

The Bills' average season-ticket price will rise from $51.24 to $59.19. That's $15 under the 2009 NFL average. The Bills had the least expensive tickets in the NFL in 2009. Second least expensive was Cleveland at $54.65. Third was Jacksonville at $57.34.

---Mark Gaughan

Bills Replay Live Chat

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Billick miffed

The Buffalo Bills didn't interview Brian Billick for their head coaching position, and he is not happy about it. In an interview with television station WGRZ (Channel 2), Billick wondered why someone with his credentials wasn't contacted by Bills General Manager Buddy Nix to come in for an interview.

"I just wanted to make sure I was clear that [Nix] had not called,'' Billick told the NBC affiliate. "Why he had not called a coach with a Super Bowl ring, 10 wins a year for nine years, having orchestrated the highest-scoring offense (1998 Vikings) and defense in the history of the league, is a question worth asking. But I never spoke with Mr. Nix.''

Contrary to reports out of New York, Marty Schottenheimer also wanted the Bills' job, according to blogger Tim Graham. But Schottenheimer was never contacted.

Billick's credentials are far better than Chan Gailey's, but Billick never enjoyed the same offensive success in Baltimore that he had when coaching Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Robert Smith and Randall Cunningham in Minnesota, which set the NFL scoring record in 1998 (the 2007 Patriots broke the record). Billick's Ravens offenses were barely above average and he made a number of poor decisions at quarterback (Kyle Boller a prime example). Most of Billick's success was helped by a dominant Ravens defense.

That said, the Bills should have at least interviewed Billick, Schottenheimer and even Jim Fassel. Maybe Gailey will do well. If he doesn't, Nix will take the blame for narrowing his search once Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden were out of the picture (Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh also reportedly said no).

---Allen Wilson

Barkley weighs in on Gailey over Frazier

2258 Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley was his usual unrestrained self on the nationally syndicated "Dan Patrick Show" this morning. Among a series of fantastic takes also including his thoughts on starring in a spin-off of "The White Shadow" and Lane Kiffin, the TNT analyst also weighed in on the Bills hiring Chan Gailey.

Remember, Barkley was outspoken last year when his alma mater, Auburn, hired the white Gene Chizik as its football coach over then UB coach Turner Gill.

Here is what Barkley said about the Bills turning to Gailey:

"I call it the Mickey Rooney rule instead of the Dan Rooney rule. Because they interview these black coaches after white guys have already got the job -- that's a travesty. That is a flat-out travesty.

"But ['Inside the NBA' host Ernie Johnson] corrected me. I said, 'You know, I'm not happy with the Mickey Rooney rule.' He says, 'Dan Rooney.' I said, 'Well, you interview black coaches after white guys have already got the job, that's the Mickey Rooney rule.'

"And let me tell you something, I don't mean no disrespect to Chan Gailey, but listen, Leslie Frazier has done a fantastic job. And when you start getting guys off the street, giving them the chances before guys that have been doing a great job, that really pisses me off.

"I like Roger Goodell -- and the way he hammers these players, he's got to start hammering these teams, man. They just can't go get guys off the steets instead of hiring young black assistants."

---Geoff Nason

Ralph, Russ are no-shows

Bills owner Ralph Wilson and team Chief Executive Officer Russ Brandon were curiously absent at Tuesday's news conference introducing Chan Gailey as head coach. No reason was given for their absence.

Maybe Wilson and Brandon chose to stay in the background so Gailey and General Manager Buddy Nix, could share the spotlight. Or maybe Wilson and Brandon didn't attend to let everyone know Gailey's hiring was Nix's call.
By staying away, Wilson and Brandon made it clear that Nix will take the credit if Gailey succeeds and the blame if Gailey flops.

---Allen Wilson

Bills introduce Chan Gailey

Bills general manager Buddy Nix introduced Chan Gailey as the 16th coach (if you count Perry Fewell) of the Bills this afternoon.

Do you like the hire?

Bills coaching search

After taking the weekend off, the Bills are expected to begin lining up other interviews this week. So far, former interim head coach Perry Fewell and Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier are the only people to interview. The Bills met with Bill Cowher, but it was more of an exploratory get together to gauge his interest.

It is believed the Bills want to talk to assistant coaches on playoff teams. That list might include New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Arizona Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm, San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

Since the Eagles were eliminated, McDermott is free to talk to the Bills if they are interested. But the Bills must adhere to NFL rules to interview the other guys.

First, they have to receive written permission from the candidate's current team, which then must approve where the interview takes place. 

No team is allowed to interview a coach involved in the playoffs once his team advances past the Divisional round. Once the interview is done, there can be no contact by the team and the coach or his representatives as long as the coach's team is alive in the playoffs. The one exception would be if the coaching candidate's team made it to the Super Bowl because there is a two-week window between the Super Bowl and the conference championship game.

If the Bills want to talk to Schottenheimer, Grimm or Rivera right away they have to do it this week.

The Bills aren't in a big rush to hire a new coach. They have said all along they will take as much time as needed to find the right man. Short of someone blowing General Manager Buddy Nix and CEO Russ Brandon away, it's going to be at least a couple of weeks because the Bills have something to announce.

---Allen Wilson


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