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Bills Beat Blog

By Joe Buscaglia
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One year after his passing, Bills announce plans for Ralph Wilson statue

So much has happened over the course of one year for the Buffalo Bills franchise, but none of it could have happened without team founder and owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. having brought the franchise to the area as part of the American Football League. At the one-year mark of his passing, the Bills announced that a statue will be built in Wilson's honor outside the stadium that bears his name.

Team co-owner Kim Pegula issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:

"Mr. Wilson was an icon in both the professional football world and in the Western New York community,” said Pegula. “This is our opportunity to honor his legacy and to allow our fans to share their gameday experience with the man who brought professional football to Buffalo.”

Wilson originally purchased the franchise and had them competing starting in the AFL in 1960. The Bills then joined the National Football League as part of the merger in 1970.

His wife, Mary Wilson, also issued a statement with the news that her late husband would be honored in that way.

"It just seems so fitting to honor Ralph with a statue in Founder’s Plaza, where fans will have the opportunity to interact and pose for photos. Ralph was so approachable and he absolutely loved the fans and he would have been honored and humbled to stand among them for all-time,” said Wilson. “I think everyone will appreciate the detail in the statue, even to the point that it replicates what Ralph wore to the stadium on game days, and I want to thank Terry and Kim Pegula for honoring Ralph in this special way.”

The life-size statue is based on a photo taken of Mr. Wilson with Thurman Thomas along the sidelines on October 21, 1990 during Buffalo’s 30-27 victory over the New York Jets.
Additional details regarding the construction and official timeline for completion of the project will be announced at a later date. The statue will be unveiled at some point in 2015.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press


Details of Charles Clay's contract with Bills

The Buffalo Bills successfully acquired the apple of their free agent eye and officially have tight end Charles Clay as a member of the roster. It's the first time the Bills addressed the position in a significant manner in quite some time, and now the full details of the contract have become available.

According to official documents obtained by WGR Sports Radio 550, the five-year contract that could be worth as much as $38 million also carries a guaranteed $24.5 million for Clay, $10 million of which as a signing bonus that he receives up front. He'll receive a roster bonus of $10 million shortly into the start of the new league year in 2016, which along with the signing bonus, and base salaries for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, make up the full $24.5 million guaranteed to him.

The cap hits for Clay, with the exception of the 2016 season, are fairly manageable. The tight end will carry cap numbers of $5 million in 2015, $13.5 million in 2016, and $6.5 million from 2017 through 2019. The contract also carries a no trade clause through the first three seasons.

The 2016 cap hit is rather extreme for a player at his position, however, the Bills can lower the cap number significantly if they so choose. Since the large majority of the $13.5 million cap hit is tied to a $10 million roster bonus, Buffalo has the option to restructure the contract and convert the roster bonus into a signing bonus, which would then be prorated into the rest of the contract.

For instance (although not the only way to restructure the deal), if the Bills were to convert the entirety of the $10 million roster bonus into a signing bonus, it would reduce the team's cap number for Clay from $13.5 million down to $6 million. It would, under this scenario, raise the cap number on the final three years of the contract up to $9 million.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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NFL first: Bills-Jags London tilt to be available digitally

For the first time in franchise history, the Buffalo Bills will be playing a game in Europe. That won't be the only 'first,' for the National Football League, either.

The NFL announced on Monday that the October 25 matchup between the Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars will be available not only in local television markets, but it will be available on a digital platform to every fan around the world as well. The game will not be available on the NFL's Sunday Ticket package, according to reports.

It will be the first time in NFL history that a national regular season matchup will be shown on a platform other than a television network. The Bills and Jaguars will kick off in London at 9:30 am.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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NFL suspends blackout policy for 2015

The National Football League blackout policy for local television has been on that has met much criticism for quite some time. If a team did not sell out a home game by a certain point of the week, the game would not be eligible to be televised locally.

For 2015 at least, that much has changed.

The NFL has decided to remove the blackout policy for the 2015 season, and agreed to do so during a vote on Monday. That means that regardless of how empty a stadium is, it must be televised in the market, and the surrounding markets within a 75-mile radius of the football team.

The Buffalo Bills are one of a few teams that have been affected by the league's blackout policy over the years. While no team had a game be blacked out in 2014, both the Bills and San Diego Chargers had a game that was not seen locally due to the long standing rules.

The league recently softened the policy, allowing teams to choose the ticket sale percentage barrier that fans must cross to avoid a blackout. Teams could choose anywhere from 85-to-100 percent, and the Bills chose to keep it at the 100 marker.

The decision came at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona this week.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Bills get their man: Dolphins will not match offer for TE Clay

When the Buffalo Bills signed tight end Charles Clay to an offer sheet, the Miami Dolphins had until Sunday at midnight (into Monday) to declare if they were going to match the contract. Instead, the Dolphins chose to move on way ahead of the deadline.

The Bills announced on Thursday evening that the Dolphins have declined to match the offer sheet that was initially extended to the tight end. Instead, Clay officially becomes a member of the Bills organization, adding to a multitude of offensive weapons collected during the 2015 offseason.

Clay, who was transition tagged by the Dolphins prior to the start of free agency, signed a five-year, $38 million offer sheet with the Bills that comes with a guaranteed $20 million. The deal will also pay him $24.5 million over the first two years of the contract, and carry a cap hit of $12 million in 2016 according to reports.

Even though the Bills have now successfully signed a transition tagged player, they will not owe the Dolphins any draft pick compensation. The transition tag only guaranteed the right of first refusal to Miami.

Clay, 26, compiled a 56-catch season in 2014 for 605 yards and three touchdowns, but is also noted for his work as a run blocker. He is a four-year veteran and has a career yards per catch average of 11.2. The Bills' cupboards are a bit bare at the tight end position, having only MarQueis Gray, Chris Gragg and Chris Manhertz before the signing of Clay.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Locations : Miami
People : Charles ClayChris GraggChris Manhertz


Report says Bills gave Harvin three-year deal: why it makes sense

The Buffalo Bills officially announced the signing of wide receiver Percy Harvin on Wednesday, in what was widely thought to be just a one-year contract worth $6 million. According to the latest report, Harvin will still make that much money for the 2015 season, but the deal he signed also helps the Bills with cap room in the short-term.

According to Jason LaCanfora of, Harvin signed a three-year, $24 million contract that has a voidable final two seasons. The wideout gets a $3 million signing bonus, with a base salary of $2.9 million and a $100,000 workout bonus for 2015.

So what is the reason for the three-year pact?

If the numbers are accurate, it's to provide the Bills with some cap relief in 2015. By signing a three-year deal rather than the one-year, the $3 million signing bonus will be prorated over the entire duration of the deal, rather than just being associated to 2015.

The $3 million signing bonus would then be spread out over 2015, 2016 and 2017 at $1 million a piece. So, for 2015, the Bills would owe the $2.9 million base salary, the $100,000 workout bonus and the $1 million prorated signing bonus to the cap and have it only cost them $4 million.

By adding two more years to the deal, it conceivably saved the Bills $2 million on the 2015 cap, while still paying Harvin his full $6 million as originally reported. If the Bills were to void the deal after the 2015 season, they would owe $2 million in dead money to the 2016 salary cap.

The contract also gives the Bills the flexibility to keep Harvin past 2015 if they so choose, but the cap numbers would go up by quite a bit. With only a $4 million cap hit for 2015, that would leave a remaining $20 million for the final two years that have to be accounted for if the deal is not voided.

Once the full details of the deal are posted we'll have further clarification, but as of now, that's the short-term reason for a three-year deal.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of the Associated Press
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Percy Harvin, Bills officially sign on the dotted line

The Buffalo Bills made it a top priority to invest in -- and potentially fix -- an offense that left far too many yards and point on the field in 2014. They've made another move in that direction on Wednesday.

The Bills announced that unrestricted free agent wide receiver Percy Harvin officially signed with the team. It's been widely reported as a one-year deal, worth $6 million. Harvin made his lone free agent visit to Buffalo and then took some time to ponder before ultimately deciding on signing with the Bills.

Harvin is said to have a strong relationship with both Bills head coach Rex Ryan and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who both worked with the wideout in New York last season. Harvin was let go by the Jets on Tuesday afternoon, following the official acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

The wideout's struggle to fit within a locker room since he was a first-round pick out of the University of Florida in the 2009 NFL Draft has been well documented. Harvin, 26, was first traded from the Minnesota Vikings to the Seattle Seahawks for a first, a third, and a seventh-round draft pick. After only one-and-a-half seasons in Seattle, the Seahawks elected to move on and trade him to the Jets for a conditional pick.

In 2014 between the Seahawks and Jets, Harvin caught 51 passes for 483 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 202 yards between the two clubs and another touchdown. 
He joins Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods as the key members of the wide receiver room at One Bills Drive.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press


Bills sign Charles Clay to offer sheet

A week after the free agency period opened in the National Football League, fans of the Buffalo Bills finally have gotten some resolution in regards to tight end Charles Clay. Well, at least for the time being.

The Bills and Clay have agreed to an offer sheet, the team announced Wednesday morning. The Miami Dolphins will have until Sunday at midnight to match the offer, otherwise, Clay will become a member of the Buffalo Bills.

According to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, the contract is worth $38 million over five years, with $20 million guaranteed. The deal, according to Carucci, will also pay him $24.5 million in cash over the first two years.

The tight end was issued the transition tag by the Dolphins, giving his original team the right of first refusal. The Dolphins have five days to match the offer, or to allow Clay to walk to the Bills. If Miami does not match, Buffalo will not owe them any compensation.

Clay, 26, compiled a 56-catch season in 2014 for 605 yards and three touchdowns, but is also noted for his work as a run blocker. He is a four-year veteran and has a career yards per catch average of 11.2. The Bills' cupboards are a bit bare at the tight end position, having only MarQueis Gray, Chris Gragg and Chris Manhertz.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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Refresher: where do things stand with Bills and Charles Clay?

Even though the free agency period is a little under a week old, to many it has felt as though the Charles Clay negotiations have dragged on for a month. Clay, the transition-tagged tight end of the Miami Dolphins, is the apple of the Buffalo Bills' free agent eye in 2015.

However, nothing has happened for quite a few days. Where does everything stand at the moment? A refresher on the saga that has affectionately been branded '#ClayWatch':

To start the new year in the National Football League, the Bills flew down to Florida on a private jet and picked up Charles Clay to bring him back for a visit in Orchard Park. The team made Clay a priority in the search for a tight end to fit Greg Roman's offense, and weren't scared off by the transition tag placed on him by the Miami Dolphins.

A multi-day visit concluded with Clay heading back home to Miami without an offer sheet in hand, but that didn't deter the Bills in the courting process. With the transition tag, the Dolphins were guaranteed the right of first refusal, where they would have five days to match whatever offer sheet Clay signs with another team.

Since the visit, much happened that sent mixed signals all throughout the weekend. First, Miami signed tight end Jordan Cameron to a two-year, $15 million contract, which to many meant that the Dolphins had moved on from Clay.

The Dolphins, at least as reporters that covered the team were concerned, had not moved on from Clay. In fact, they were working on trying to convince Clay to sign an extension according to various reports.

They even went as far to shed salary with two trades over the weekend. They dealt both linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and wide receiver Mike Wallace, two big-ticket free agents signed by Miami over the past couple of years, and brought back close to no salary to count against the cap in return.

From there, it seemed they had carved out enough of cap space to re-sign Clay to an extension, which would make any offer sheet the Bills were willing to send to the tight end, in a word, moot. Then, the most recent twist and turn, courtesy of Tim Graham of The Buffalo News:
  With that latest news, all signs are pointing toward the Bills and Clay getting an offer sheet signed within the next few days. So, what then can we expect from the team's offer sheet to the tight end?

Don't expect a contract that will completely crush the Bills' remaining salary cap space for 2015. The one thing that the Bills could do is to pay Clay a lot of cash up front, which thereby would limit the Dolphins' ability to match the offer because of how much cash they just used up front to pay defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

The Bills have all the motivation in the world to work out a creative way to get Clay signed to an offer sheet, so that the Dolphins would not be inclined to match the offer. One look at Buffalo's current 'depth' chart at tight end (MarQueis Gray, Chris Gragg, Chris Manhertz) will tell you all you need to know: a starter is necessary to the success of the offseason.

If somehow the Bills were to miss out on Clay, or the Dolphins change their minds and decide to pony up for the tight end, Buffalo could still look to one other notable free agent that is still unsigned. Former Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham has yet to sign with a team, even after being courted by the Oakland Raiders early on into free agency. He could be an option if all else fails.

For now, #ClayWatch continues, with the next step likely being an offer sheet being sent over by the Bills and signed by Clay. Keep checking back to for all the latest as the situation unfolds.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press


Bills re-sign DE Jarius Wynn

Word caught on that the Buffalo Bills had re-signed a pair of their own early in the week, and the team made the signing of the second of those players official on Saturday morning.

The Bills officially announced that they had signed reserve defensive end Jarius Wynn to a contract extension. According to a source Wynn will make $2.2 million over a two-year contract, and received a $250,000 signing bonus.

Wynn proved to be a valuable backup for the Bills in 11 games, giving both Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes a rest when they needed it. Wynn had 17 tackles and two sacks last season while playing on a one-year deal.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press
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