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Jeff Tuel's uncommon company among undrafted rookie starters

By Tim Graham

Jeff Tuel became the 46th undrafted quarterback to start as a rookie since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, according to data.

If that number seems high, then consider 17 of those were strike replacements in 1987. A slew of quarterbacks who came through other pro leagues (Warren Moon, Jeff Garcia, Bobby Hebert, et al) also count toward the total.

So for the proper context to underscore Tuel's lack of pedigree and experience, know that he became only the 13th undrafted rookie under 25 years old and not from the strike season to start since the merger.

  • Rick Arrington, 1970 Philadelphia Eagles
  • Don Gault, 1970 Cleveland Browns
  • Bill Demory, 1973 New York Jets
  • J.J. Jones, 1975 New York Jets
  • Jim Zorn, 1976 Seattle Seahawks
  • Mike Lloyd, 1980 St. Louis Cardinals
  • Brad Goebel, 1991 Philadelphia Eagles
  • Kelly Holcomb, 1997 Indianapolis Colts
  • Jake Delhomme, 1999 New Orleans Saints
  • Doug Johnson, 2000 Atlanta Falcons
  • Anthony Wright, 2000 Dallas Cowboys
  • Matt Moore, 2007 Miami Dolphins
  • Jeff Tuel, 2013 Buffalo Bills

Willie Totten, a 1987 strike replacement, was the only other undrafted rookie to start at quarterback for Buffalo.

Tuel became Buffalo's third starter this year. That has happened three times in the past six seasons, with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards and Brian Brohm doing it in 2009 and 2010.

Week Nine is the earliest the Bills have started three quarterbacks since 1969, when James Harris, Jack Kemp and Dan Darragh were called upon.

The Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns are the only other teams to have started three quarterbacks this year.

Stevie Johnson: It wasn't as easy as it looked

By Jerry Sullivan

Stevie Johnson just concluded a hastily arranged eight-minute press conference with the media at One Bills Drive. He took the blame for his crucial drop, but cut himself some slack by saying the catch wasn't as simple as it appeared to the naked eye.

"I feel like it was harder than what it was," he said. He explained he shook his man and came wide open, but had to reach for the football and it bounced off his hands. "It was tougher than it was."

Stevie's explanation was reminiscent of two years ago, when he dropped a pass deep in Jets territory late in a 28-24 defeat. After that loss, he deflected some of the blame to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, saying Fitz's pass, which was perfectly on line, came at him too soon out of his break.

Stevie said he wasn't surprised by the negative reaction to Sunday's drop, particularly after his assertion last week that no one on the Patriots could cover him.

"The reaction is as expected," Johnson said. "Everybody is placing blame on me. It's OK. I put myself in that positon. ... When you don't win a game, at the end of the day, that's when you get that negative attention, and I deserve it."

Bills, EJ Manuel must beware of Brandon Spikes

By Tim Graham

With the young Buffalo Bills about to open the season with a rookie quarterback returning from injury, they ought to be wary of Brandon Spikes and his potentially dastardly antics.

The New England Patriots' middle linebacker is dirty and has a history against the Bills.

Spikes drew league fines each time he played the Bills last year, $21,000 for a blindside hit on tight end Scott Chandler and $25,000 for a head-to-head hit on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick that knocked off Fitzpatrick's helmet and turned into a heated altercation.

After the second game, Fitzpatrick said Spikes is "a punk at times," and Bills center Eric Wood called him "a headhunter."

You better believe Spikes would love nothing more than to get inside rookie quarterback EJ Manuel's kitchen and rattle some pots.

Continue reading "Bills, EJ Manuel must beware of Brandon Spikes " »

Stevie Johnson on 2013 attack: 'We can make all the passes'

By Tim Graham

One of Stevie Johnson's most admirable traits is how confident he is in his teammates. The Buffalo Bills receiver always professes his faith in those around him, even Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Johnson went so far as to suggest last season Fitzpatrick should be giving play-calling priority over Chan Gailey.

Johnson was equally as effusive when describing his excitement about the 2013 passing attack with new quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb.

Continue reading "Stevie Johnson on 2013 attack: 'We can make all the passes'" »

People's Poll: Will Bills improve on throwing interceptions?

By Tim Graham

Back from the long holiday weekend, let's celebrate our post Independence Day hangover with a reprise of the People's Poll.

This week's first installment comes from Kevin McCarthy (@MacTheBartender), who ponders how much different the Buffalo Bills' interceptionastic qualities will be in 2013.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 16 of them last year, tying him for eighth-most in the NFL for a team that ranked 23rd in pass attempts.

The Bills look like a team that could throw a lot of interceptions this year.

They have a rookie and Kevin Kolb playing in an offense run by a first-time NFL head coach and a first-time NFL offensive coordinator.

Kolb has a career 3.3 interception percentage. Fitzpatrick has thrown an interception on 3.6 percent of his career attempts.

What a gag: Buddy Nix's pranksters face federal charges

By Tim Graham

A prank phone call has turned into a federal case.

Two 20-year-olds from Plymouth, Mass., have been charged with intentionally intercepting a wire communication and making a telephone call without disclosing their identity with the intent to annoy or harass the person at the called number.

Joshua Barber and Nicholas Kaiser allegedly recorded a private conversation in March between Buddy Nix, then the Buffalo Bills' general manager, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive Mark Dominik and then forwarded the audio to

On the call, Nix made some unflattering comments about quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills at the time hoped Fitzpatrick would take a pay cut and stick around as a veteran influence on whomever they drafted a month later.

Fitzpatrick eventually declined to restructure his contract, and although he denied his decision was impacted by what Nix said in the recording, sources close to Fitzpatrick told me he was incensed.

Continue reading "What a gag: Buddy Nix's pranksters face federal charges" »

Jim Kelly 'tired' of being Bills' standard, rooting for EJ Manuel

By Tim Graham

Two of the strongest traits EJ Manuel brings to the Buffalo Bills are intelligence and a quarterback's charisma that makes his teammates want to play with him and for him.

So did Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Bills legend Jim Kelly is aware of this. But when it comes to finally finding a franchise quarterback to replace him, Kelly sees potential in Manuel's arrival.

The Bills' opening-day quarterback will be the 11th starter since Kelly retired, and the list is ugly.

Continue reading "Jim Kelly 'tired' of being Bills' standard, rooting for EJ Manuel" »

Will new Bills QB be moribund organization's Manuel ignition?

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills know something nobody else does?

That idea alone is fascinating.

The chance of it being true is small based on the organization's track record. But maybe -- just maybe -- the Bills were smart to name EJ Manuel their franchise quarterback.

And if that decision is proven to be correct, while gathering two additional draft picks, then the possibilities are endless.

Continue reading "Will new Bills QB be moribund organization's Manuel ignition?" »

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 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)

Base value of Kevin Kolb's deal is $6.1 million over two years

By Mark Gaughan

The base value of the contract Kevin Kolb signed with the Buffalo Bills is $6.1 million over two seasons.

Kolb's deal could be worth up to $13 million in total money, but he will have to hit a lot of incentives to reach that amount.

For practical purposes, Kolb's deal is worth $3 million this year and $3 million next year, a league source reports. He gets a $1 million signing bonus and a base salary worth $1.65 million this season. He has a $250,000 roster bonus if he is on the 46-man roster for the season opener. He also has about $100,000 in workout bonuses in this year's total.

In 2014, the contract calls for a $1 million roster bonus and a base salary of $2 million.

In short, the Bills signed Kolb for less than they would have paid to keep Ryan Fitzpatrick. The BIlls also were offereing Fitzpatrick a $3 million per year deal, plus significant incentives. But they were offering Fitzpatrick a four-year contract. Fitzpatrick wound up signing a two-year, $6.5 million deal with Tennessee.

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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 |