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Bills offseason re-shapes roster

Posted May 21, 2012

It began with the contract extension for Ryan Fitzpatrick in the middle of the 2011 season. Since then over the past six months Buffalo’s front office has not only re-signed important pieces already on the roster, but added premium talent in free agency and the draft. All of it adds up to a vastly improved squad for Chan Gailey and his staff to direct.

Re-signed their own
After Fitzpatrick signed his multi-year extension in October, Buffalo set out to re-sign more of their own players, whose contracts were set to expire.

Starting right tackle Erik Pears was locked up in mid-December.

By the end of January long snapper Garrison Sanborn was also re-signed and veteran kicker Rian Lindell was added back to the fold as well a week later.

The biggest free-agent-to-be of them all was re-signed to a long-term deal a week before the free agent market opened as number one receiver Stevie Johnson re-signed.

It led to a domino effect as Ruvell Martin, starting tight end Scott Chandler, Kirk Morrison, Derek Hagan, Bryan Scott and Tashard Choice all re-upped with Buffalo over the next month.

Restricted free agents Chad Rinehart and Kraig Urbik, who each had more than 10 starts in 2011 accepted their tender offers and re-signed for 2012 in late April.

All told just a pair of Buffalo’s unrestricted free agents signed with other clubs during the free agent period.

The Bills also rewarded team leader Fred Jackson with a contract extension earlier this month.

Free agent splash
Bills GM Buddy Nix said the team would be aggressive in free agency and the acquisition of prized pass rusher Mario Williams was the landmark move of Buffalo’s offseason.

The pass rush signing however, had a follow up in the form of Mark Anderson, another proven threat off the edge less than a week later.

Quarterback depth was later added with free agent signal caller Vince Young.

Free agent TE/FB Dorin Dickerson was added right after rookie minicamp.

Draft adds top talent
Armed with 10 picks, Buffalo kept nine of them and proceeded to add a pair of offensive tackles, two linebackers, two cornerbacks, an interior offensive lineman, a receiver and a kicker.

Top picks Stephon Gilmore and Cordy Glenn are expected to push for starting roles immediately on defense and offense respectively.

Ten undrafted free agents were later added and remain on the roster heading into OTAs next week.

Outlook
With a roster turnover of just 13 players not counting the undrafted signings, Buffalo has improved the level of talent and the depth of it as well. It has head coach Chan Gailey confident that the team can take the next step.

“I think it’s a great group, but I should be biased,” said Gailey. “They’re ours. We know we have to incorporate the new guys into the team and see where they might be able to help us because we’re still on our quest for a championship and anything less is not acceptable at this time.”