Bills Rumors

Bills Interested In Josh Norman

The Bills have checked in with free agent cornerback Josh Norman, GM Brandon Beane says (via the team website). So far, the talks have been informal, though there’s an obvious connection between the longtime Panthers star and the Bills’ regime. 

We have looked into him and even talked to him,” said Beane. “Nothing more than that. I’m sure he may have some other teams that he’s looking at beyond Buffalo. Probably a similar situation to Greg Olsen, he’s in a spot where he’ll be able to choose where he wants to go. I don’t know what his plan will be of whether we’ll come to any type of agreement.”

Beane and head coach Sean McDermott – formerly with the Panthers – were in the running for Olsen before he signed with the Seahawks. Their familiarity could lead to something with Norman and the cornerback position is on their to-do list.

The Bills are set to return Tre’Davious White, Taron Johnson, and Levi Wallace (ERFA) at cornerback while Kevin Johnson is out-of-contract. They’ll have to weigh Norman and other big-name CBs against larger needs, however. The Bills could use a top-end receiver, a reliable tight end (since the Olsen deal didn’t come together), and upgrades on the offensive line.

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AFC Injury Notes: Landry, Phillips, Beckham

Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry was unable to avoid offseason hip surgery, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Landry had been hopeful that rest and rehab would be enough to deal with his injury during the offseason but instead opted to go under the knife. The news did not come as a huge surprise given the fact that Landry had previously mentioned he regretted not getting surgery sooner, but it remains noteworthy nonetheless.

The timetable for his return appears to be six-to-eight months, which would allow him back onto the field at some point during training camp.

Here’s some more injury notes from around the AFC:

  • Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips discussed the grueling recovery process from a torn ACL with Bills Insider Chris Brown. Phillips described his experience going through the “very long, slow process” working back to the field. On top of his original rehab, Phillips suffered a major setback in September, which delayed his recovery timetable even further. At this point, Phillips does not expect to be a full go until training camp.
  • Unlike teammate Jarvis Landry, Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. should be back at full strength from surgery in less than a month, per Cabot. Beckham, who underwent core-muscle surgery in late January, is on pace to be recovered in time to participate in offseason minicamp. While he did not attend minicamp last offseason, the combination of a new head coach in Cleveland and his attempts to come back from an injury could make his attendance more likely.

Seahawks Sign TE Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen‘s first free agency tour will produce a deal with the Seahawks. The veteran tight end will choose Seattle over Buffalo and Washington, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

The 13-year veteran agreed to a one-year, $7MM deal with the Seahawks, per Schefter, who adds this pact comes with $5.5MM guaranteed. The chance to play with Russell Wilson helped make Seattle a more attractive destination than those with ex-Panthers staffers in place, per Schefter (on Twitter).

Wilson has gone through a few tight ends since Jimmy Graham‘s departure. Ed Dickson experienced consistent injury troubles over the past two years; so has promising youngster Will Dissly. Olsen will add a proven weapon to Seattle’s pass-catching corps, coming in for his age-35 season.

The Seahawks last season were down both Dickson and Dissly, and they traded Nick Vannett to the Steelers early in the season. Jacob Hollister started both playoff games. Barring injury, Olsen will be in line to join Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf as one of Wilson’s top three targets next season. The Seahawks will be Olsen’s third team, following the Bears and Panthers.

In nine Carolina seasons, Olsen became one of the best players in franchise history. He eclipsed 1,000 yards en route to three Pro Bowls from 2014-16 and helped the Panthers to a 15-1 season that produced an NFC championship. Since coming into the league as a first-round pick out of Miami in 2007, Olsen has 8,444 receiving yards — third-most in the NFL among tight ends in that span.

Olsen, however, experienced significant foot trouble late in his Panthers tenure. Although Olsen played 14 games last season, he missed 16 games between the 2017-18 campaigns because of multiple foot maladies. This marks another injury-prone tight end on Seattle’s roster. The potentially rebuilding Panthers released Olsen, who had one more season left on his Carolina contract, earlier this month.

This will put Ron Rivera‘s Redskins in the market for another tight end and may move Sean McDermott‘s Bills to pursue one as well. FOX will need to delay plans to hire Olsen for one of its Sunday broadcast teams as well. The network has used Olsen for multiple broadcasts late in his career and made him an offer to join full-time this offseason.

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Franchise Tag In Play For Jordan Phillips?

An interesting name has surfaced as a possible franchise tag candidate — one that appeared on the waiver wire during the 2018 season.

The Bills drafted Ed Oliver at No. 9 overall last year, have promising 2018 third-rounder Harrison Phillips coming back from injury and are set to retain Star Lotulelei for a third season. Nevertheless, teams are expecting the Bills to tag defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.

That scenario would represent a remarkable rise for the elder of the Bills’ two D-line Phillipses. Buffalo claimed the former second-round pick off waivers from Miami in 2018. A key cog in the Bills’ top-tier pass defense, Jordan Phillips registered 9.5 sacks last season — nearly twice as many as he collected from 2016-18. Phillips also recorded 16 quarterback hits but graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 103 interior defenders (out of 113 full-time players).

The 6-foot-6, 341-pound defender would collect approximately $16.7MM on a franchise tag in advance of his age-28 season. That would be a significant raise for the part-time starter, who signed a one-year, $4.5MM deal in March 2019 to stay with the Bills.

While the Bills have several notable investments at defensive tackle, they do possess plenty of cap space to afford a tag. Buffalo is projected to hold more than $82MM in space — third-most in the league. Should the Bills tag Phillips, it would give them a deep stable of interior defenders and further illuminate the need for an outside pass rusher. Shaq Lawson is a free agent, and Trent Murphy has not exceeded 10 QB hits in either of his two Bills seasons.

It would still be interesting to see Phillips’ name included with the likes of Chris Jones, Matt Judon or Yannick Ngakoue — all potential tag recipients. Those pass rushers will carry much greater name recognition going into the tag window. Teams can apply tags from Feb. 25-March 10.

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Latest On Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen‘s free agency tour has come to an end after three stops, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The tight end is currently in negotiations with the Bills, Redskins, and Seahawks, and he will not be meeting with any other teams. 

The Panthers parted ways with Olsen earlier this offseason in yet another signal that they are prepared for a total rebuild. This, of course, came weeks after the dismissal of longtime head coach Ron Rivera. Soon, the Panthers’ revamp may result in the release of one-time MVP quarterback Cam Newton.

Back to Olsen – the veteran has rebuffed numerous offers from multiple networks who are hoping to lure him into the broadcast booth. Instead, he’s intent on playing at least one more season in the NFL with an eye on contending for a championship. If winning is Olsen’s priority, one has to think that the Seahawks would be at the top of his wishlist.

The Bills and Redskins also hold appeal for Olsen, who will turn 35 in March. In Buffalo, Olsen could be a key part of the offense and siphon snaps from youngster Dawson Knox. With the Redskins, Olsen would get to rejoin longtime mentor Ron Rivera. Depending on how things shake out in D.C., it could even be a full-fledged reunion. The Redskins cut Josh Norman on Friday, but they could fill their void at cornerback by pivoting to James Bradberry, who spent the last four years in Carolina.

At this stage, Olsen is no longer a top-flight tight end. However, he was still reasonably productive last season and it’s clear that he still has some gas in the tank and fire in his belly. For his career, Olsen has notched 718 catches, 8,444 receiving yards and 59 touchdowns.

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Bills, Star Lotulelei Agree On Restructure

Star Lotulelei signed a lucrative deal with the Bills in 2018. The veteran defensive tackle agreed Tuesday to restructure it.

The former Panthers first-round pick will see a $1.75MM reduction in his 2020 base salary in exchange for that figure — now set to be $4.50MM — becoming fully guaranteed, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. This will essentially ensure Lotulelei remains with the Bills this season.

The sides also agreed on additional guarantees for the 2021 season. Lotulelei will receive an extra $2.5MM in injury guarantees for next year. His contract, which previously contained no guaranteed money beyond 2019, runs through the 2022 season. It will still tag the Bills with more than $5MM in dead money to release Lotulelei in 2021.

The Bills have used Lotulelei as a starter in each of the past two seasons, and even though Pro Football Focus has not viewed the nose tackle as particularly productive, the team has him stationed as one of its top 2020 cap figures. Lotulelei played 516 snaps this past season, recording two sacks.

Buffalo stands to gain minimally from this restructure, but the team is not exactly hurting for cap space. The Bills entered Tuesday projected to hold just more than $80MM in 2020 cap room.

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Greg Olsen Expected To Sign With NFL Team This Week

Greg Olsen is almost ready to make his free agent decision. By the end of the week, the tight end expects to choose his next NFL squad, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. 

Olsen kicked off his free agent tour by meeting with the Bills last week. Today, he’ll huddle up with the Redskins before moving on to the Seahawks on Wednesday.

It has been said that Olsen is also weighing a jump to broadcasting, but from the sound of it, the tight end will be staving off retirement for another offseason. Olsen has garnered lucrative offers from both ESPN and FOX over the years, so it stands to reason that those opportunities will be there waiting for him, whenever he’s ready to hang ’em up.

The Seahawks would probably represent Olsen’s best chance to win a Super Bowl ring, but the Bills and Redskins also have a lot to offer. With the Bills, Olsen would have an opportunity to pair with the young and promising Josh Allen and occupy a significant role in the offense. The Redskins, meanwhile, would allow him to reunite with Ron Rivera, the longtime Panthers coach that guided him to a streak of three 1,000-yard seasons and multiple Pro Bowl appearances.

Olsen, 35 in March, has notched 718 catches for 8,444 yards and 59 touchdowns over the course of his career. Last year, he had an uncharacteristically quiet season with the Panthers – 52 grabs, 597 yards, and just two touchdowns in 14 games.

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Bills To Lose Assistant To 49ers

  • The 49ers appear to have a replacement lined up. Aaron Whitecotton will join San Francisco’s defensive staff, per Marvez. A Bills assistant for three seasons, Whitecotton worked with 49ers DC Robert Saleh for four seasons in Jacksonville prior to relocating to Buffalo.

Redskins Visit Up Next For Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen finished up his Bills visit on Thursday morning, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Olsen, who isn’t in any particular rush to sign, left without a deal. His next visit will be with the Redskins, followed by the Seahawks. 

The order of Olsen’s three visits may or may not be an indicator of his preference. The Bills would make some sense for Olsen – they’re not high on anyone’s list of Super Bowl contenders for 2020, but they do have a talented young quarterback in Josh Allen and Olsen could provide him with a better security blanket than rising NFL sophomore Dawson Knox.

Ditto for the Redskins – expectations aren’t high in D.C., but they would give Olsen an opportunity to reunite with old friend Ron Rivera. Of course, the two were together for years in Carolina, where Olsen went on a tear of three straight 1,000-yard seasons. No one knows what’s in store for Jordan Reed after a scary number of concussions; Olsen can help them fortify that position and possibly take over as the TE1, if needed.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, are in a better position to win right away. And, with serious uncertainty around their tight end situation, Olsen would be a logical fit. Will Dissly might not be 100% after his Achilles tear and Ed Dickson could be a cap casualty in the coming weeks. Beyond those two, Luke Willson is scheduled for free agency in March and Jacob Hollister will be a restricted free agent.

There will probably be more teams beyond those three with interest in Olsen. Earlier this week, Olsen said that he’d like to hear from the Bears – his first NFL team – but hasn’t been in touch with them since his release from the Panthers.

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Greg Olsen To Visit Bills, Redskins

That didn’t take long. Hours after Greg Olsen‘s release from the Panthers was made official, his free agency tour is taking shape. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the veteran tight end will take visits with the Bills and Redskins this week (Twitter link).

Though it doesn’t guarantee anything, this development makes it sound as if Olsen will play in 2020 and will postpone his journey to the broadcast booth for at least another year. If he were to sign with Washington, Olsen would reunite with longtime Carolina head coach Ron Rivera, and recent rumors suggested that Olsen is indeed amenable to joining the ‘Skins.

Fresh off their second playoff appearance in three years, the Bills would appear to give Olsen a better chance at bringing home a championship ring in 2020. But both Buffalo and Washington are obvious fits for the 34-year-old (35 in March), as neither club got much production from the tight end position in 2019.

The Bills were paced by rookie Dawson Knox, who averaged just under 26 yards per game. Rookie tight ends rarely excel, and while the Bills surely expect Knox to take a step forward in 2020, Olsen would represent a reliable veteran target for QB Josh Allen.

The Redskins, meanwhile, lost Jordan Reed for the 2019 season due to yet another concussion, and they have a young quarterback of their own in Dwayne Haskins who would benefit from Olsen’s presence. But Olsen will likely generate more interest from other clubs before he decides to put pen to paper.

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