It was a contract extension that was critical for the future success of Buffalo's secondary. Set to become a free agent at season's end, Terrence McGee would have commanded a boatload of interest on the open market. Fortunately the veteran cornerback wanted to re-sign with the Bills all along. After a month of negotiations an agreement was reached as McGee signed a multi-year extension with the club on Friday.
"You definitely feel good about your long term security when you can get a deal like this done, but more importantly it allows you to focus more on football," McGee told Buffalobills.com. "At the same time I did my best to not even think about it because you don't want it to affect your play. But it is good to get it over with and focus on making it to the playoffs."
McGee, 28, has been the team's number one cornerback for the last two seasons, drawing the top coverage assignments every week. He finished the 2008 season as the team leader in interceptions and pass breakups.
"I've been here for almost five years with Terrence and to see him as a second-year guy and see him now as our number one corner and witness that maturation process and see him grow year after year is something special," said safety George Wilson. "He's really elevated his game year after year."
Locking up McGee long term was an important move by the Bills. As promising a prospect as Leodis McKelvin might be, Buffalo still needs a proven corner to start on the other side. Had McGee departed via free agency this offseason filling the void would have proven difficult.
The veteran cornerback has been a model professional, which is typically the type of player the Bills choose to re-sign to lucrative long-term contracts. Lee Evans was the most recent example until McGee signed late this week.
"He's one of the better tackling corners in the league," said Wilson. "He's had some great people to learn from from (Antoine) Winfield to (Nate) Clements and Lawyer Milloy and Troy Vincent."
Unlike Winfield or Clements, however, the Bills made retaining McGee a priority preventing their top cornerback from hitting the open market.
"It feels real good because there have been some talented corners that have left," said McGee. "So it feels good to know they wanted to keep me here and allow me to end my career as a Bill."
McGee, called 'Game Day' by his teammates, is also one of the most respected players on the team in Buffalo's locker room.
"He's definitely a man of few words, but he lets his actions speak for him when it comes to the game of football," said Wilson. "As far as getting through the week of practice, it may look like he's struggling to get through it from being sore or banged up, but he always finds a way to bring it all together for Sunday. That just goes to show his commitment to this team and his love of the game."
Ironically, McGee could not practice Friday because of a back spasm, but after spending some time in the training room and signing his long term deal the veteran corner's back suddenly felt looser.
"It's a little bit looser now than it was this morning," he said smiling. "But I'll be alright for Sunday."
And with McGee signed long term Buffalo's secondary should be alright for many more Sundays to come.