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Top three tacklers gone: Bills trade Kelvin Sheppard for Jerry Hughes

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills now have gotten rid of their top three tacklers from last season.

The Bills announced this afternoon they've traded linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to the Indianapolis Colts for pass-rusher Jerry Hughes.

Hughes was the 31st overall pick in the 2010 draft, but has been a disappointment, starting only seven games in his three NFL seasons.

Hughes made 41 tackles and added a career-high four sacks for the Colts last year.

Sheppard, a 2011 third-round pick, was third on the Bills last year with 77 tackles, three for losses, two sacks and a pass breakup.

The Bills previously cut leading tackler Nick Barnett and No. 2 tackler George Wilson. The Bills' fourth-leading tackler, safey Jairus Byrd, isn't under contract.

Nigel Bradham, Bills expect him to be a defensive playmaker

By Tim Graham

Among the highlights of the Buffalo Bills' pre-draft news conference Tuesday were General Manager Buddy Nix's remarks about linebacker Nigel Bradham.

Linebacker is considered a weakness for Buffalo. The position was disappointing as a whole last season, and then Buffalo cut leading tackler Nick Barnett.

Nix, however, claimed Buffalo's linebackers are underrated.

"We've got some talent there," Nix said, "and a lot more than people think."

Continue reading "Nigel Bradham, Bills expect him to be a defensive playmaker " »

Kyle Moore signs with Bears; Revolving Bills roster updated

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills lost another free agent.

Kyle Moore, a surprise performer last year on a disappointing defensive front, signed a one-year contract Monday with the Chicago Bears.

Moore, despite being inactive the first four games, started seven straight games in November and December. Moore made 24 tackles, three for losses. He notched the first three sacks of his career.

Analytics website ProFootballFocus.com rated Moore 25th in pass-rushing among all 4-3 defensive ends who played at least 25 percent of their teams' snaps. The site tallied 23 quarterback hurries for Moore, tying him for 30th in the NFL.

Moore had arthroscopic knee surgery in January, but a source informed The Buffalo News the Bills wanted to re-sign him. But last month's acquisition of linebacker Manny Lawson might have made Moore expendable.

Moore was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fourth-round draft choice in 2009 and eventually landed on the Detroit Lions' practice squad, from where the Bills plucked him in November 2011.

An update accounting of the comings and goings on Buffalo's roster in free agency:

Players who have re-signed

  • • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson
  • • Running back Tashard Choice
  • • Tight end Dorin Dickerson
  • • Colin Brown
  • • Linebacker Bryan Scott
  • • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin

Players whose rights have been retained

  • • Tight end Mike Caussin
  • • Safety Jairus Byrd

Players who have joined

  • • Quarterback Kevin Kolb
  • • Defensive tackle Alan Branch
  • • Linebacker Manny Lawson

Players who have departed

  • • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Wide receiver Donald Jones (New England Patriots)
  • • Wide receiver David Nelson (Cleveland Browns)
  • • Guard Andy Levitre (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Guard Chad Rinehart (San Diego Chargers)
  • • Defensive end Chris Kelsay (retired)
  • • Defensive end Shawne Merriman (retired)
  • • Defensive end Kyle Moore (Chicago Bears)
  • • Linebacker Nick Barnett
  • • Cornerback Terrence McGee
  • • Safety George Wilson (Tennessee Titans)

Nick Barnett posts April Fool's wish

By Mark Gaughan

Score an early April Fool's joke for free-agent linebacker Nick Barnett, who tweeted early this morning that he was glad to be back with the Buffalo Bills.

Barnett, whose contract ran out at the end of the season after two years with the Bills, remains on the free-agent market, as he subsequently has acknowledged. The Bills, meanwhile, still can use some insurance at the coverage linebacker position.

Comings and goings: Buffalo Bills offseason moves so far

By Tim Graham

And on the seventh day of free agency, the Press Coverage blog reviewed the Buffalo Bills' offseason personnel moves to date ...

Players who have re-signed

  • • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson
  • • Linebacker Bryan Scott
  • • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin

Players whose rights were retained

  • • Tight end Mike Caussin
  • • Tight end Dorin Dickerson
  • • Safety Jairus Byrd

Players who have joined

  • • Linebacker Manny Lawson

Players who have departed

  • • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Wide receiver Donald Jones (New England Patriots)
  • • Wide receiver David Nelson
  • • Guard Andy Levitre (Tennessee Titans)
  • • Guard Chad Rinehart (San Diego Chargers)
  • • Defensive end Chris Kelsay (retired)
  • • Defensive end Shawne Merriman (retired)
  • • Linebacker Nick Barnett
  • • Cornerback Terrence McGee
  • • Safety George Wilson (Tennessee Titans)

PFF analytics show which Bills provided most, least value in 2012

By Tim Graham

When the Buffalo Bills rebooted their operations in January, a point of emphasis was the creation of an analytics department. While no details have been divulged on how the Bills will implement analytics, a common usage around the league is in determining contract values.

ProFootballFocus.com, one of the most popular analytics sites, has applied its metrics to the Bills' 2012 roster to determine who underperformed and outperformed their salary-cap figures last year.

You can check out PFF for its explanation of each player, but here are the lists:

Undervalued

  • 1. Jairus Byrd, safety
  • 2. C.J. Spiller, running back
  • 3. Andy Levitre, left guard
  • 4. Kyle Williams, defensive tackle
  • 5. Alex Carrington, defensive tackle
  • 6. George Wilson, safety
  • 7. Nick Barnett, linebacker
  • 8. Scott Chandler, tight end
  • 9. Bryan Scott, linebacker
  • 10. Cordy Glenn, left tackle

Overvalued

  • 1. Mario Williams, defensive end
  • 2. Chris Kelsay, defensive end
  • 3. Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback
  • 4. Brad Smith, wide receiver
  • 5. Terrence McGee, cornerback
  • 6. Spencer Johnson, defensive tackle
  • 7. Mark Anderson, defensive end
  • 8. Tyler Thigpen, quarterback
  • 9. Erik Pears, right tackle
  • 10. Shawne Merriman, defensive end

The Bills already have released two of the PFF's 10 most undervalued players (Barnett and Wilson). Byrd, Levitre and Scott could become unrestricted free agents in a couple weeks.

From the overvalued list, the Bills have dumped McGee. Kelsay announced his retirement Wednesday night. From the free agents on the list, we safely can assume Thigpen won't be back, Merriman's probably a goner and Johnson isn't worth re-signing.

Bills' defensive purge totals eight captaincies, 38 seasons, 500 games

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills have parted ways with four veteran defenders in less than three weeks.

Defensive end Chris Kelsay, cornerback Terrence McGee and safety George Wilson didn't play games for any other team. Linebacker Nick Barnett started every game for the Bills the past two seasons after eight years with the Green Bay Packers.

Here is a breakdown of how much experience has been deducted from Buffalo's roster with these four players.

  • • 38 seasons
  • • 500 games
  • • 404 starts
  • • 59.5 sacks
  • • 44 interceptions
  • • 20 forced fumbles
  • • 20 fumble recoveries
  • • 7 defensive touchdowns
  • • 8 seasons as Bills captain

Numbers, of course, don't paint the complete portrait.

Kelsay (neck) and McGee (knee) ended last season on injured reserve. Barnett and Wilson were the Bills' top two tacklers, but they were lacking when it came to game-changing plays.

But the Bills' defensive leadership will have a substantially different composition in 2013.

Manti Te'o endures his media penance at NFL combine

TeoCombineAP
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o holds a news conference with reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. (Photo: Associated Press)

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- NFL teams are grilling Manti Te'o about his fabricated dead girlfriend.

That has been happening here at the NFL scouting combine behind closed doors. The Buffalo Bills will be among the 20 teams Te'o speaks with, and every one of them has asked him tough questions.

"No," Te'o replied with a laugh when I asked him if any of the teams have let him off the hook. "They're all asking me."

The interrogation went public this afternoon.

Te'o began to rehabilitate his reputation in the NFL media community with an effective news conference in Lucas Oil Stadium. The 15-minute session was the first time Te'o met reporters in an uncontrolled setting since the national championship game.

Continue reading "Manti Te'o endures his media penance at NFL combine" »

Bills to ask Manti Te'o what in hell that girlfriend thing was all about

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Buffalo Bills want some answers from Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o this week.

Doug Whaley, the Bills' assistant general manager, told The Buffalo News today in Indianapolis that Te'o will be among the 60 college prospects they interview here at the NFL scouting combine.

Te'o made international headlines last month when it was revealed his dead girlfriend -- a significant part of an inspirational tale about a kid playing through tragedy to become a Heisman Trophy runner-up -- didn't exist.

Continue reading "Bills to ask Manti Te'o what in hell that girlfriend thing was all about" »

Terrence McGee 'blindsided' by Bills call, but he'd love to return

McGeeAPBy Tim Graham

Terrence McGee expected the Buffalo Bills to cut him.

When the phone call came this morning, however, the frequently injured cornerback said he "felt blindsided."

The Bills cut McGee because of a failed physical. He had one year left on his contract with a base salary of $1.75 million.

The announcement came three days after unloading two other veteran defenders: linebacker Nick Barnett and safety George Wilson.

Continue reading "Terrence McGee 'blindsided' by Bills call, but he'd love to return" »

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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 | tgraham@buffnews.com


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 | mgaughan@buffnews.com


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 | jskurski@buffnews.com

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