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Bills Beat Blog

By Joe Buscaglia
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Bills decide against using franchise tag

The Jairus Byrd drama from two years ago will not be duplicated at One Bills Drive. The National Football League deadline for teams to use the franchise and transition tags on impending unrestricted free agents has passed, and the Buffalo Bills declined to use either option.

Bills GM Doug Whaley confirmed the decision with a very brief statement:

"We have chosen not to use the franchise or transition tags this year."

Of the players set to hit the open market on March 10, the only name that might have garnered some consideration for the franchise tag was defensive end Jerry Hughes. Hughes, 26, is coming off back-to-back seasons that he amassed 10 sacks and is the highest-ticket unrestricted free agent from the Bills roster in 2014.

If the Bills would have applied the franchise tag to Hughes, they would have owed him a fully guaranteed $14.813 million for 2015 if the two sides could not strike a longterm agreement. Buffalo originally acquired the defensive end in a one-for-one trade (for Kelvin Sheppard) with the Indianapolis Colts in the 2013 offseason.

In addition to Hughes, the other notable free agents coming from the Bills roster are running back C.J. Spiller and safety Da'Norris Searcy. Teams can begin to contact the representation of unrestricted free agents starting on March 7, leading to the beginning of the free agency on March 10 at 4 pm when players can start to officially sign with other teams.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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No More McCown; QB picks Browns over Bills

The Josh McCown derby is officially over, and the Buffalo Bills are without the veteran quarterback that they so coveted. The Cleveland Browns announced on Friday night that they had agreed to a free agent contract with McCown, spurning the Bills' offer.

The Bills started the courtship process of the 12-year veteran quarterback last week ahead of the 2015 NFL Combine in Indianapolis. After his two-day visit in Buffalo, he met with both the Chicago Bears and New York Jets at the Combine, and then traveled to Cleveland this week to meet with the Browns. 

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the 35-year old McCown signed a three-year contract with the Browns to compete with Johnny Manziel for the starting quarterback job. He was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the month after accruing a 1-10 record in 2014. In his career, McCown thrown for 61 touchdowns to 59 interceptions.

The Bills still only have two quarterbacks on the roster: former first-round pick EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel. The official start of the NFL Free Agency Period is set for March 10 at 4 pm.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Report: Bills in contract talks with QB McCown

A week after the Buffalo Bills initially brought the apple of their free agent quarterback eye in for a visit, it appears the two sides are entering the next phase of a potential partnership. According to one report, free agent quarterback Josh McCown and the Bills are getting a bit more serious.

Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News reported Thursday morning that the Bills and McCown have started to discuss the financial aspect of a potential contract, and if all goes well, a deal could be struck as soon as Friday. The free agent quarterback was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the month, and has since visited with the Bills, Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.

In one season with Tampa Bay, McCown went 1-10 as a starter and passed for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He signed as a free agent with the Buccaneers after a successful season as Jay Cutler's backup in Chicago. When Cutler was injured, McCown threw for 1,829 yards and 13 touchdowns to just one interception in eight games of work.

The 35-year old McCown will be entering the 13th year of his career.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Buscaglia: NFL Mock Draft #1

As the NFL offseason starts to shift into its next gear, the rumors circulating around the 2015 NFL Draft are only just beginning.

Unlike most years, the Buffalo Bills do not have a first round pick and will have to wait patientily -- pending a trade up in the order -- until the evening of Friday, May 1 to make their first selection. Holding the 50th overall selection, how might the 49 picks before them pan out?

Here is the first of many looks at a mock draft. Of course, please remember that this mock draft, and all mock drafts, are for entertainment purposes only.

Round 1
1)  - QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
- He is the best quarterback available in this draft. As long as the off-the-field stuff checks out, he should be the first player selected on April 30.

2)  - DE Leonard Williams, USC
- Ken Whisenhunt has a certain type of quarterback that he likes, and Zach Mettenberger is that guy. Instead, Leonard Williams enters and tries to live up to his weighty expectations established throughout the year.

3)  - DE/OLB Dante Fowler, Florida
- Speed, size and a local appeal make this a home run pick for Gus Bradley and David Caldwell.

4)  - WR Kevin White, West Virginia
- The most impressive wide receiver from the NFL Combine has the tape to match. The Raiders need a big time target for Derek Carr.

5) **TRADE  (from WSH) - QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
- Jimmy Haslem does what Jimmy Haslem wants, and no GM in his own building will stop him. 

Cleveland gets: 5th overall, 69th overall, 5th round pick
Washington gets: 12th overall, 19th overall, 43rd overall

6)  - DE/OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska
- After losing out on Mariota, the Jets settle in on Geno Smith in 2015 and try to revamp the defense as much as possible.

7)  - DE/OLB Shane Ray, Missouri
- The Bears are switching to a 3-4 base defense, which means they need some personnel that suits it. Ray will help out from the outside linebacker spot when they are in traditional looks.

8)  - DE/OLB Bud Dupree, Kentucky
- Speed kills, and the Falcons need a pass rusher. Dupree has risen quite a bit.

9)  - DT Danny Shelton, Washington
- The Giants do need an offensive tackle but can't pass up the value of Shelton here, in hopes he can form a powerful tandem with Jonathan Hankins.

10)  - OT La'El Collins, LSU
- The Rams have a perpetual problem on the offensive line, so they add yet another one to the mix.

11)  - WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
- A bit of a luxury pick here, but the Vikings do need a top target for the ever-improving Teddy Bridgewater.

12)  (from CLE) - S Landon Collins, Alabama

13)  - DE/OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson

14)  - OT/G Brandon Scherff, Iowa
- The Dolphins could go with a wide receiver, but they still have some glaring weaknesses on the interior of the offensive line. Scherff can start inside, immediately.

15)  - WR DeVante Parker, Louisville

16)  - CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State

17)  - OT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh
- There were some thoughts of taking a running back here, but drafting Clemmings can move D.J. Fluker inside as a mauling, power-run guard.

18)  - WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
- The lack of talent at the wide receiver position in Kansas City must be addressed this offseason. They can't depend solely on tight end Travis Kelce and the aging Dwayne Bowe.

19)  (from BUF via CLE) - OT Ereck Flowers, Miami (FL)

20)  - CB Jalen Collins, LSU

21)  - DT Malcom Brown, Texas

22)  - OT Andrus Peat, Stanford

23)  - DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State
- Regardless of who the Lions re-sign of their defensive tackle group, they are likely going to need another starter in there for 2015. Goldman fits that mold.

24)  - DE/OLB Eli Harold, Virginia

25)  - OT D.J. Humphries, Florida

26)  - HB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
- The first running back of the draft goes, and he breaks the first-round running back curse. If Justin Forsett doesn't re-sign, the Ravens will need to look to youth for their running needs. Wide receiver was also a consideration here.

27)  - DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA

28)  - C Cameron Erving, Florida State

29)  - ILB Denzel Perryman, Miami (FL)

30)  - DE/OLB Danielle Hunter, LSU
- A young player with explosive athleticism. He could rise even higher than this as a pass rusher.

31)  - WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri

32)  - WR Devin Funchess, Michigan
- Devin Funchess could be Bill Belichick's newest toy. He could become the move tight end the Patriots have been searching for to pair with Rob Gronkowski, and he has some wide receiver versatility.

Round 2

33)  - OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M

34)  - G A.J. Cann, South Carolina

35)  - DE Mario Edwards, Florida State
- Edwards is a big body and he can move. If he ever hits his potential, the Raiders could have a young and feared pass-rushing group with him and Khalil Mack.

36)  - OT Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State

37)  - CB Byron Jones, Connecticut

38)  - CB Marcus Peters, Washington

39)  - NT Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma

40)  - OLB Shaq Thompson, Washington
- The Giants will probably look at Thompson as a swiss army knife option that they can play at either safety, linebacker or in rushing the passer. Just because he didn't meet expectations at the NFL Combine, don't expect teams to jump ship on him and his versatility.

41)  - CB Ronald Darby, Florida State

42)  - HB Todd Gurley, Georgia

43)  (from CLE) - DE Arik Armstead, Oregon

44)  - HB Jay Ajayi, Boise State
- The Saints featured a power run game quite a bit last season with Mark Ingram. Now that he's a free agent, the Saints could look to the draft to address the position, and Ajayi can provide that power mentality they're looking for. Not only that, he can be a three-down player and not force Pierre Thomas or anyone else on to the field.

45)  - G Laken Tomlinson, Duke

46)  - TE Maxx Williams, Minnesota
- Vance McDonald has been a disappointment and Vernon Davis really struggled to be a big piece of the offense last year. They could start grooming his replacement in the athletic Maxx Williams.

47)  - WR Devin Smith, Ohio State

48)  - HB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

49)  - ILB Bernardrick McKinney, Mississippi State

50)  - HB Tevin Coleman, Indiana
- The two other names considered at this slot were Oregon offensive lineman Jake Fisher and Miami (FL) tight end Clive Walford, but neither could provide the potential impact that Tevin Coleman might be able to do in his first season in the league. Despite the running back position being a deep one, the Bills won't hesitate to select someone that fits their running style, and Coleman is exactly that. He's falling a bit at the moment due to an injury, but he has all the potential to be an every down running back for whatever team he plays for.

Round 3

81)  - TE Nick O'Leary, Florida State
- To spare you from having to scroll through 30 more names this early in the draft process, we'll skip straight to the Bills pick at 81st overall. The Bills are said to be in the market to add multiple tight ends, and not many offer the kind of package that Greg Roman and Rex Ryan may want than Nick O'Leary. As a tight end, he is limited athletically which means he will never stack up with the Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham's of the world. But what he does offer is an every down presence, one of the most consistent tight end targets in college football over the last three years and an incredible presence in the red zone. O'Leary is as smart at beating a defense as they come, and he shows up in clutch times. With a hard-nosed type of playing style, Rex Ryan will surely love what O'Leary brings to the table.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Sources: Bills are not in pursuit of QB Bradford

Since the offseason started and head coach Rex Ryan was hired, the Buffalo Bills have made it their mission to find a quarterback to compete with former first-round pick EJ Manuel for the starting job. Although one report indicates that the Bills may be in pursuit of one quarterback, sources to WGR Sports Radio 550 refute that notion.

A Yahoo! Sports report from Tuesday afternoon that the Bills were in pursuit of St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford via trade, but sources to WGR says that the notion is not real and the Bills are not currently attempting to acquire the quarterback.

Bradford is entering the final year of his contract with the Rams, and the team has publicly stated their allegiance to him as recent as last week at the NFL Combine. CBSSports.com reported last week that Bradford's agent had received permission to seek a trade.

Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News initially refuted the Yahoo! Sports report.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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LIVE at the NFL Combine: Day 4

Who's ready for some quarterbacks? Everyone's favorite day at the NFL Combine is here, with the offensive skill players taking center stage at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Follow all the action throughout the four days at the Combine right here with the live blog. You’ll find the latest tidbits of news, player interviews and results from Indianapolis.

4:02 - Things are winding down here in Indianapolis, which brings us to the end of yet another journey in Indianapolis. The media availability is finished, but the NFL Combine will continue for the next two days with more workouts on the field. Thanks to all for following along over the last four days.... more draft content coming up soon!

2:52 - The running backs are the next group up for workouts and the talented group saw a couple of standouts in the 40-yard dash. Perhaps the most impressive, Florida State runner Karlos Williams posted an unofficial time of 4.48. It's even more impressive when you see that he is 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds. Some of the other top names and how they ran:

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin: 4.52
Jay Ajayi, Boise State: 4.57
Ameer Abdullah: 4.61
Duke Johnson: 4.55
T.J. Yeldon, Alabama: 4.65
Mike Davis, South Carolina: 4.61
Buck Allen, USC: 4.53

1:45 - Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota put on a show in the throwing drills on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. Both players showed an effortless arm strength and fantastic accuracy in throwing to wide receivers that they never have before. They confirmed what was already known: they are the top two quarterbacks in the 2015 NFL Draft, and it isn't even close. As for some others, Baylor's Bryce Petty had some flashes but that has never been his issue. Alabama's Blake Sims, Auburn's Nick Marshall and Oregon State's Sean Mannion left a lot to be desired.

12:34 - West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White just threw down the gauntlet at the NFL Combine. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound White posted unofficial 40-yard dash times of 4.35 and 4.36. To go along with all the buzz he was building even before the week in Indianapolis, White could wind up being a top five pick. Impressive.

11:48 - The second group of quarterbacks just finished up the 40-yard dash, and the winner of the day was Oregon's Marcus Mariota. He was expected to run very well, and the likely top-10 pick did not disappoint with a 4.52 40-yard dash. Alabama's Blake Sims impressed with a 4.58, while Florida State's Jameis Winston clocked in with a 4.97. Don't get too carried away, though. The 40-yard dash isn't really a huge predictor of success for the position. The throwing drills are next.

11:26 - The first group of quarterbacks are through their workouts, and it was a mostly lackluster showing for the group. Duke's Anthony Boone had a rough day with his accuracy, as did East Carolina's Shane Carden. The ball came off Brandon Bridge's arm nicely, but his footwork clearly has some ways to go which puts him purely on "project" status. The second group has both Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. Stay tuned.

10:45 - Dorial Green-Beckham is one of the most interesting stories at the NFL Combine this year, and his results on the field have been extravagant. At 6-foot-5 and 237-pounds, teams have been following DGB to see just how well he would run on Saturday, and he has yet to disappoint. The Missouri wideout ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, and looked as smooth as one can in the gauntlet drill. He's got his demons off the field, which will impact his draft stock more than anything. But on the field, he's been a monster.

9:32 - With the Buffalo Bills being charter members of the 'Need a QB Club,' odds are they have a heightened interest to how the quarterbacks will perform in the on-field workouts. Some of the players from the first group were flying in the 40-yard dash. UCLA's Brett Hundley and Nevada's Cody Fajardo each hit the 4.63 mark which are the best of the day. Meanwhile the super-intriguing, late round option that is Brandon Bridge of South Alabama posted a time of 4.72. Marcus Mariota will be running with the second group.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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LIVE at the NFL Combine: Day 3

The 2015 NFL Combine is halfway to completion, but that isn't before we enter the next phase of the annual event. After all the talk, finally, the on-field workouts will start up at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday.

Follow all the action throughout the four days at the Combine right here with the live blog. You’ll find the latest tidbits of news, player interviews and results from Indianapolis.

3:25 - The Jameis Winston press conference just happened. Some of the bigger talking points from the interview:

- Winston brought up, several times, that his biggest goal is to earn the trust of everyone in the NFL. He wants to be a face of the franchise, and knows that's what he must do to be the person and player that he wants to be.
- The quarterback said nothing was wrong with his shoulder, and that he intends on throwing at the NFL Combine on Saturday during workouts.
- He stressed on numerous occasions that this was the first time he's had an offseason to focus solely on playing quarterback. To this point in his life, his spring and summer was always dominated by baseball.
- Recently a picture has made the rounds on the Internet of Winston throwing the ball without a shirt on, and some wondered if his weight ballooned in the offseason. The ever-confident Winston addressed the issue head on: "A lot of people thought I was fat. I look good and I know it!"

2:08 - The workouts of the tight ends are now done for the day, and to be fair, it was quite an underwhelming day. Of the top tight ends available, there weren't any standouts. In fact, it was a bit of a slow group with the players at the top of the list. Minnesota's Maxx Williams ran an 4.78, Florida State's Nick O'Leary clocked in with a 4.93 and Miami's Clive Walford had a 4.79. Even the gauntlet drill -- an exercise that tests a player's hands, athleticism, and location skills -- most that participated dropped at least one pass. The two standouts in that drill were O'Leary and Williams, possessing very natural hands and movement skills.

1:20 - The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the foremost authorities on implementing analytics into their organization, and have even used it in player evaluation. Jaguars GM David Caldwell offered up a smart, well-thought out answer as to how they utilize analytics in the roster building process.

"I think it's important to say hey, it's a good tool. It's a great tool for us. You're not going to use everything... it doesn't translate for every situation, every player. But, for us, it's a good tool. It's a good system of checks and balances. And this whole industry, what we do personnel wise, coaching wise is we have scouts that look at players but a good checks and balances, let's have the position coaches look at players, let's have our GM look at players. Ok, what do the analytics show about this specific player? What are the probabilities of this player, at this size, making it in the NFL? And then there are going to be situations where you maybe ignore that, and you're going to go with what the coaches feel, what the scouts feel. And then there's going to be situations where you say 'Hey, we're going to look at Denard Robinson in the fifth round because his speed-size score shows that he could be a pretty good running back.' That would be a good example of it working. And maybe our coaches, our personnel may have said, 'you know what, I don't know if we have enough time to have this guy work out.' We're in the fifth round, the probability of fifth rounders making and starting in the NFL is not great, so, let's take a kid that's great that has dynamic speed and good size, and we feel like that we can get him bigger and be a running back. So it's a tool. It's not going to dictate decisions, but it's going to help us go to the right decision."

12:15 - An appropriate update from the NFL Combine during the lunch hour. This might be the best thing you see all day:

11:40 - All those Bills fans that were holding out hope in a trade for St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford won't like this:
Bradford isn't going anywhere, folks.

11:00 - A helpful reminder, since he did not come through the media room like the rest of the quarterbacks on Thursday, Florida State's Jameis Winston will be the main attraction in the media center on Friday. Reporters will likely bring up any and all of his transgressions off the field, which will make how he handles it a must-see interview.

10:43 - As the offensive linemen continue to go through their drills, the first standout of the workouts has identified himself. Oregon offensive lineman Jake Fisher displayed good footwork and athleticism through the work on the field. He also flew through the 10-yard split of the 40-yard dash, which is the most important for that position. Fisher posted a time of 1.78 after 10 yards, which was the best of any in the first group. He's an intriguing prospect that played tackle at Oregon, but some have projected him to guard. With feet like that, he'll probably get a shot at tackle out of the gate in his NFL career.

9:59 - The on-field workouts have started and former Bills head coach Doug Marrone is front and center. Enjoy!
Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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The Essentials: What we learned from Bills GM Doug Whaley at the Combine

Each year at the NFL Combine, the Buffalo Bills will bring the two key decision makers around for the local media to interview and explore all the hot topics that surround the offseason. On Wednesday, head coach Rex Ryan was the first to go and chatted about quarterbacks more than anything. 

However, often times, the most significant interview is with the general manager of the team -- and no exception was made when Doug Whaley spoke with the media on Thursday.

What were the biggest takeaways from the 11-minute conversation? The need-to-know information:

1) Jerry Hughe$$$ close to being signed?
- The Bills and impending free agent defensive end Jerry Hughes have been in constant communication while in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. The Bills sent a proposal to Hughes’ representatives, and they sent a counter-proposal right back. For Buffalo, Jim Overdorf, Russ Brandon and Kevin Meganck are heading up the efforts for the soon-to-be free agents, allowing Whaley to concentrate during the day on the actual event that brought the team to Indianapolis. Compared to some of the other comments shared by Whaley on Thursday, it made him seem downright optimistic about the idea of the defensive end re-signing. For the first time, Whaley cast some shade on the idea of using the franchise tag on Hughes:
“We're trying to avoid that because we're trying to get him long-term for sure and keep everybody on the same page so they felt like hey, we got a good deal, and we say as the Buffalo Bills we got a good deal.”

Hughes appears to be the priority for the Bills at the moment, and for good reason. Stay tuned.

2) Safe travels Spiller, Spikes, and Searcy
- While he didn’t come right out and say the three aforementioned impending free agents would be going on their merry way, it certainly sounded like a departure was entirely possible. On Spiller, Whaley used the terms “close the gap,” and “work to be done” when asked if that gap was significant. If you read between the lines, Spiller likely has the case of thinking his value is far higher than what the team does. If that doesn’t come back, he’ll be off to the land of free agency. Searcy, while a valuable contributor on defense, may fall victim to another contract the Bills signed off on last year. Whaley said, “Searcy is going to be a little challenging because we have paid Aaron Williams, and there's some money tied up in that position and Searcy may probably garner starting money at safety.” A versatile player, he’ll likely garner some interest on the open market. As far as the linebacker Spikes goes, he’s likely as good as gone. Whaley:
“I just talked to him today and the new staff sees a different role than maybe he does. I told him, go out there and see if you can get a team to see you the way you see yourself, if not, then come back and we can talk.”

With Kiko Alonso, Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown and Ty Powell on the roster, the Bills are likely to move on from Spikes.

3) Deep RB class, but that doesn’t mean they’ll wait on one
- Ask 10 different decision makers in the NFL, and most — if not all — will tell you that the running back class in 2015 is a very, very strong one. Being a decision maker in the NFL, Doug Whaley agrees with that statement and said he’s excited about the depth at running back. With so many that could have an impact, and early, might the Bills be more inclined to wait on drafting one?
“People may say that, but I'm a firm believer of if you want that guy and that's your guy, get him, especially in the draft because you don't know if he's going to fall to you. If you're committed to that guy, and you take him in the second, he may not get to you in the third. I don't want to say ‘Aw, I should have.’”

We saw Whaley do that with Sammy Watkins in 2014, despite a wide receiver draft class that was one of the strongest the draft has seen. Those hoping that the Bills will veer away from running back at 50th overall might want to divert their eyes from this quote. It’s a very, very real possibility.

4) Is Josh McCown a viable starting option?
- The McCown mentions continued Thursday with the Bills GM, but for the second straight day, the Bills didn’t exactly fawn over the free agent quarterback. Now, both Whaley and Rex Ryan have to be careful in how they answer a question about a free agent because it could be seen as losing leverage, but, neither went out of their way to endorse McCown as a viable starting option in the NFL. Whaley’s quote on Thursday to that very question was somewhat notable: “He can come in and compete with EJ and whoever else we bring in to be the starter.” The Bills need to do something at the quarterback position, but they’re also staying away from going over the moon about that player publicly just in case they flop. It’s smart business, but a bit jarring when initially heard.

5) Dareus becomes high priority very, very soon
- The Buffalo Bills know what they have in Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, so they aren’t going to monkey around with him potentially becoming a free agent. Only signed through the 2015 season, the Bills will immediately shift their attention to Dareus once things start to slow down over the next month or two.
“After we get done with all the unrestricted and everything we do this offseason, then we'll starting broaching that subject.” - Doug Whaley

Whaley was then asked if he considered an extension for Dareus to be a high priority, to which he succinctly replied, “Yes, yes.” The defensive tackle is officially in the on deck circle, and despite all the off-the-field concerns, he is going to get paid a substantial amount of money.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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LIVE at the NFL Combine: Day 2

Welcome back for Day 2 at the NFL Combine!

On Day 1 we heard from Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan... a lot, Josh McCown took over the news cycle, and some of the top tight ends came through the media room. For the second act, Indianapolis surely has a doozy of a day lined up.

Follow all the action throughout the four days at the Combine right here with the live blog. You’ll find the latest tidbits of news, player interviews and results from Lucas Oil Stadium.

5:44 - That will do it from the media room at Lucas Oil Stadium. As it turns out, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston did not come through the media room... but he will on Friday. It will undoubtedly be the biggest interview this year. Winston, plus the first day of on-field workouts will start up here in Indinapolis. Talk to you all in the morning.

5:36 - Before we put a wrap on Day 2 of the NFL Combine, first is one of the better interviews that took place on the day. Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson, a likely Day Three pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, showed that Bills running back Anthony Dixon isn't the only Mississippi State alum with a quirky personality. Robinson was asked about his running style. His response? "Beast Mode 2... coming soon." His face lit up when asked about Dixon, saying that they were pretty close. Keep an eye on Robinson in the draft if the Bills decide to wait on a running back. He has the physical, bruising style that will likely appeal to both Rex Ryan and Greg Roman.

4:03 - Apologies for the wait, but Bills GM Doug Whaley just held court with the Buffalo media and dropped juicy little nuggets all throughout the 11-minute talk. A few highlights before a longer post heads your way...

- Say goodbye to linebacker Brandon Spikes, unless he's willing to sign for low money and a backup role.
- The Bills are in constant communication with the representation for free-agent-to-be Jerry Hughes. He seems to be the priority at the moment.
- There is a bit of a gap between C.J. Spiller and the Bills in the contract negotations.

More to come.

2:02 - If you've listened to WGR at all over the past few weeks, you'll have heard the name Brandon Bridge at least a time or two. A Canadian-born football prospect from just outside Toronto, Bridge decided to go to the United States to play football. A raw quarterback prospect in every sense of the word, the South Alabama graduate has the arm strength and speed that teams drool over. With such a weak class, some team could fall in love with his potential and he could end up going a lot earlier than many are thinking he will. Keep an eye on Bridge, who some fans affectionately named 'Air Canada' in his time at college.

1:01 - One of the late round quarterbacks the Bills could be interested in bringing in is Duke's Anthony Boone, who just spoke to the media here at Lucas Oil Stadium. Boone called former Bills quarterback Thad Lewis his "big brother." Lewis has been helping him throughout the whole draft process and giving him a little insight on the business side of things as well. Lewis also attended Duke University, and is playing the role of mentor to the 6-foot, 233-pound Boone.

12:31 - Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley spoke with the media not too long ago and revealed that former Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett did not follow Doug Marrone to Jacksonville. Bradley and Hackett knew one another when both were on the Tampa Bay staff under Jon Gruden. Bradley reached out to Hackett and the rest is history.

11:33 - Doug Marrone has been spotted in Indianapolis. The former Bills head coach was weaving his way through the common area past some media types and stopped to chat with some reporters. Marrone declined any interviews, unfortunately.

11:08 - As long as C.J. Spiller moves on from the Bills -- which at this point is the safe bet -- the franchise will be in the market for another running back that has the potential to start. That position very well could be a target early on in the 2015 NFL Draft for the Bills, and it's a good year to need one according to many. Not only do draft experts feel that way, but so does Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider who said as much during his interview at the Combine. In addition to all the quarterbacks and wide receivers speaking with the media today, most of the running back prospects will be made available for interviews. To whet your appetite, here are the measurements of some of the better names available:
10:28 - A helpful reminder, Bills GM Doug Whaley will meet with the local media today. The questions surrounding the quarterback position are obvious, but equally as important is the negotiations with Jerry Hughes, Da'Norris Searcy, and how he's going to address almost every other position on the offensive side of the ball. That will be happening at some point in the afternoon.

10:00 - Less than 24 hours after the Sam Bradford trade permission report came out from Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch -- the Rams beat writer for the paper -- essentially slammed the door shut. His lead paragraph in the story regarding the report:
"To be clear, Sam Bradford isn’t demanding a trade. And the Rams aren’t interested in trading Bradford.​"
Well, so much for that idea. It was kind of, sort of fun while it lasted.

9:36 - Here's to hoping you all recharged your batteries and are ready for the press conference to end all 2015 NFL Combine press conferences. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the favorite to be the top overall pick at this point in the draft process, will speak to the media at some point in the day. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be rethinking their love for Winston, seeing as how he measured in a quarter-of-an-inch less than his billed height of 6-foot-4. Excuse the immense sarcasm, but that bit of news was actually a hot take-inducing machine to start off the morning here in Indianapolis. But really, today is going to be an interesting day and a big part of it has to do with how Winston handles the media. Stay tuned.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Finding a quarterback is the priority to Bills’ Ryan

It’s one of the most simple concepts in all of professional sports, but also doubles as one of the toughest tasks to complete. The easiest way to sustained success in the National Football League is by finding a long-term, franchise level quarterback.

“It’s a lot easier said than done,” said Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan.

Since EJ Manuel was benched after Week Four of the 2014 season, the Bills have been on a steady road to even more uncertainty at the quarterback position. Kyle Orton retired, Doug Marrone opted out and Manuel is left in limbo.

When Ryan was hired and subsequently introduced, he made no guarantees to the incumbent quarterback on the roster. The only promise was that Manuel would get a chance to compete.

Just to be safe, Ryan has made it a practice to talking up Manuel without committing to him.

“Obviously, this league’s proven when you’ve got a great quarterback, it’s rare that you don’t go to the playoffs with a great quarterback,” the head coach said Wednesday at the 2015 NFL Combine. “It would be nice to get somebody like that. I’m not saying that we have that situation right now. I’m excited about EJ Manuel, though. He’s a young man that has some potential. We’ll see how that pans out.”

Hellbent to not rest on their laurels at the position, the Bills have been active in their search of competition for the former first-round pick. Earlier in the week, the franchise hosted unrestricted free agent Josh McCown on an official visit.

It was the first act to McCown’s flurry of activity that continued on Wednesday. The 35-year old also met with the Chicago Bears and New York Jets.

“It was a great visit,” Ryan said, but wouldn’t commit to McCown being a viable starting option. “Well, we’ll see. We’re not going to tip our hand one way or the other on what our thoughts are, but it’s safe to say that obviously we’re interested in him, that’s why we brought him in.”

Perhaps the reason that such a push for McCown exists is the less than stellar draft class at quarterback, combined with lackluster options in free agency when it begins on March 10.

Outside of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, the 2015 quarterback class has been universally branded as a weak one that lacks any other immediate starting options.

“Just like anybody else, you hear one thing about, ‘Oh, maybe it’s not a very deep class or whatever.’ But there’s always guys that you’ll get excited about, whether it’s at the end of the draft or the beginning of the draft,” Ryan said.

Due to the lack of depth, free agency is the likeliest option for the Bills to add a “significant” piece to their roster. Whether it’s Josh McCown, Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker or someone else, the Bills will need to add a piece.

At least that’s how Rex Ryan wants it to play out.

“I think in an ideal world, you'd have a veteran quarterback with a young quarterback, I don't think there's any doubt about that, whether it's a young guy starting, a veteran backup, or vice versa, but you know, we'll see how it shakes out. I know we're going to try to upgrade that position, if you will, or add to that position, certainly, any means necessary. So we'll see. Right now we know we feel good about EJ, but obviously we've got to add to that as well.”

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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