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Hits and whiffs: The best and worst Buffalo Bills tacklers

By Tim Graham

Pro Football Focus tweeted an amazing stat this afternoon.

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller last season missed one tackle on 576 passing snaps and one tackle on 339 running snaps. The average distance downfield that Miller made a tackle was 0.25 yards away from the line of scrimmage.

With that in mind, I wanted to see who the Buffalo Bills' most efficient tacklers were in PFF's play-by-play review.

Continue reading "Hits and whiffs: The best and worst Buffalo Bills tacklers" »

Poll: Who should be cut to clear Buffalo Bills salary-cap space?

By Tim Graham

Which Buffalo Bills players would you dump to clear more room under the salary cap for 2013?

Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan cast a spotlight on the Bills' salary-cap situation in today's paper and listed the top dozen cap figures for the upcoming season.

Gaughan reported Buffalo's decision to lop linebacker Nick Barnett and safety George Wilson from the roster puts it $20.9 million under the NFL's projected $121 million cap.

Factor in how much the Bills will need to spend on their draft class and to retain players such as safety Jairus Byrd, and the Bills don't have much wiggle room to re-sign left guard Andy Levitre or bring aboard noteworthy free-agent help.

So take a look at the Bills' top 12 cap figures and vote for the one player you'd most want to dump.

Jilted George Wilson wanted to retire a Bill, excited about next job

By Tim Graham

George Wilson laughed at the idea that as Valentine's Day approaches, he's being courted for the first time in his career.

On Monday, the Buffalo Bills released Wilson, a defensive captain who started every game last season at strong safety. He led the Bills with 73 solo tackles, was second with 98 total tackles and had five pass breakups.

CBS Sports reporter Jason La Caonfora tweeted today that Wilson already has meetings scheduled with the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions with more teams possibly interested.

Wilson told WGRZ Channel 2 sports anchor Adam Benigni that the Bills' decision was expected because they want 2011 fourth-round draft choice Da'Norris Searcy to play.

"When I took my contract in Buffalo after Donte Whitner left, how those negotiations went, I kind of knew that I was just a Band-Aid to over up the wound for a moment, not for an extended period of time," Wilson told Benigni. "Even though I had every desire to finish my career as a Bill, I understand the business side of it."

Wilson, an undrafted wide receiver who was converted to defense, lamented missed opportunities.

He dropped what should have been an interception two plays before Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck completed a fourth-down touchdown pass with 63 seconds left to beat the Bills in Week Seven.

On the St. Louis Rams' game-winning drive inside the two-minute warning of Week 14, Wilson missed two chances to intercept Sam Bradford.

"I only have control over what I do when I'm out there on the field," Wilson said. "I had those opportunities. I didn't make those plays. And I'm a former Bill now.

"But I'm not going to focus on that particular part of my experience in Buffalo. I've had too many good years and have came across too many great people to just focus on my last season there. I just look at it overall as a great ride."

What Mike Pettine thinks of LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Eric Smith

By Tim Graham

Until their contracts expire or they're released, Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is forbidden from speaking about New York Jets safeties LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell or Eric Smith.

As defensive coordinator of the Jets a few weeks ago, however, he could blab, blab, blab all he wanted.

I reviewed Pettine's 2012 news conferences to search for comments about his former safeties a day after the Bills released captain George Wilson.

Continue reading "What Mike Pettine thinks of LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Eric Smith" »

Why it's important Bills clear room for some of Mike Pettine's Jets

By Tim Graham

When Rex Ryan left the Baltimore Ravens to become head coach of the New York Jets in 2009 and Mike Pettine came along as defensive coordinator, a significant part of their master plan was to sign former Raven defenders who could communicate the system to their new teammates.

The top two targets were linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard, who speak the same language Ryan and Pettine do. Scott and Leonhard made the on-field calls and explained the adjustments.

The Jets' defense thrived right away.

A similar transition could be in the works for the Buffalo Bills. A few weeks after hiring Pettine to be their defensive coordinator, the Bills today released linebacker Nick Barnett and safety George Wilson.

Continue reading "Why it's important Bills clear room for some of Mike Pettine's Jets" »

Bills GM Buddy Nix comments on George Wilson, Nick Barnett

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills have distributed a statement from General Manager Buddy Nix about the release of linebacker Nick Barnett and safety George Wilson:

"Moves like the ones we've made today are never easy, but we have to do what's best for our team and keep moving forward. We've got some good young players on our roster who we feel are ready to take the next step and they will now have the opportunity to do so. We thank both Nick and George for everything they’ve given the Bills organization and wish them nothing but the best for the future."

Nick Barnett tweets he's done in Buffalo; Hello, Bart Scott?

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills might be on the verge of a defensive purge.

Moments after learning they were releasing safety, captain and NFL Players Association representative George Wilson, weak-side linebacker Nick Barnett tweeted that he's also getting cut.

Barnett led the Bills with 112 tackles. He had two sacks and three forced fumbles.

The moves likely are clearing space for players new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine would like to add. Pettine previously was New York Jets defensive coordinator, and some of their players are about to hit the market.

Safety LaRon Landry will be a free agent, and the Jets reportedly will release linebacker Bart Scott, a Pettine favorite, who played the weak-side role.

George Wilson released by Bills

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo News has learned the Buffalo Bills have released safety George Wilson.

The move comes after a season in which the seven-year veteran started all 16 games and served as a defensive captain and NFL Players Association team representative.

Wilson, 31, made 104 tackles and defended five passes, but failed to record any "big plays," registering zero sacks, interceptions or forced fumbles. In two close losses -- to Tennessee in Week Seven and St. Louis in Week 14 -- Wilson dropped would-be interceptions late in the fourth quarter that would have sealed two Buffalo victories.

"It ended up ricocheting off the palm of my hand and bouncing away from me. Those are the plays you end up replaying in your head over and over again and wishing the ball would have bounced your way," he said after the loss to the Rams.

Continue reading "George Wilson released by Bills" »

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |