By Mark Gaughan
Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said two weeks ago he wanted to keep cornerback and kick return ace Leodis McKelvin.
The Bills got it done just three days before McKelvin was due to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Bills reached a four-year contract agreement with McKelvin that is worth just over $20 million, a league source told The Buffalo News. The deal includes $7.5 million of guaranteed money.
McKelvin started four games for the Bills at cornerback last season before missing the last three games to a groin injury. McKelvin led the NFL in punt returns with an 18.7-yard average. He became the first Bills player to return two punts for touchdowns in a season.
McKelvin's deal signals the Bills’ regard for him as a worthy starter in the secondary opposite cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Nix said as much last month.
“Leodis has got to have some help, but he's a big-time returner,” said Nix. “I think Leodis will be a candidate for that spot.”
McKelvin had a pretty good year as a first-time starter at cornerback in 2010. The next season he had two poor games early in the year (against Oakland and Cincinnati) and the Bills pulled him from the starting lineup after five games.
He entered the 2012 season working mostly as a slot cornerback. Former defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt thought the inside defensive position would allow McKelvin to be more instinctive without worrying so much about deep sideline balls. However, the Bills’ No. 2 corner, Aaron Williams, struggled early, allowing five TD passes in the Bills’ first five games.
McKelvin took over for Williams midway through the eighth game of the season and then started four more games before going out with a groin injury. McKelvin didn’t allow any significant completions in those starts.
Whether Williams will get a chance to compete at corner is uncertain. Nix raised the prospect of shifting him to safety.
McKelvin was the 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft. He has 33 starts in 64 career games.
taggedAaron Williams | Buddy Nix | Dave Wannstedt | Leodis McKelvin