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Building the Bills: Week 1 of free agency

The Bills have been active around the free agency window in 2015, securing players by extension, new contract or trade.

In the first week of free agency, One Bills Drive was a vortex of activity, with new players signing on, former players taking their leave, and a couple of high profile players (Jerry Hughes, Marcus Easley, Kyle Williams, Jordan Gay and Jarius Wynn) re-signing with the team.

The Bills added four names to the roster through free agency and trades: QB Matt Cassel, RB LeSean McCoy, FB Jerome Felton, and QB Tyrod Taylor. And all four of those new Bills shared some of their thoughts on The John Murphy Show during the week.


Acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings for draft picks, Matt Cassel is going into his 11th year and the NFL and the Bills will be the fourth team he's played for. He told host John Murphy the trade took him by surprise when it was announced last week.

"At first you go, 'What just happened?' because you're not expecting it," he said. "But as soon as I found out I was going to Buffalo there was a lot of excitement. My wife and I were super-excited, we started playing the 'Shout' song on the phone for the kids—'Let's go Buffalo!'—I love it. We were all fired up."

Cassel is the father of two girls, ages three and four, and a 1 ½ year old son. He's already looking for a new home to Buffalo to bring his family to Western New York.

While growing up in Northridge, California, Cassel and his family survived the devastating 1994 earthquake that killed 57-people. Cassel was 11-years old and he remembers the temblor vividly.

"I felt it all right," he said. "I think it was around 4:30 in the morning and my brother and I were in the den area where the television was. The rooms were on the opposite side of the house. The rooms started shaking and we woke up, ran into the kitchen and got underneath this big kitchen table. And all of a sudden, the roof started to come down and there was glasses and dishes falling all over the place. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but our house was condemned. It was one of those crazy situations you have to deal with in California."

Cassel stayed close to home to play college football at USC. But he never started a game for the Trojans, playing behind Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer for the first three years, and then backing up Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinhart in the fourth.

"They gave me a little miniature Heisman Trophy though, because both those guys won the Heisman Trophy," he joked. "Just the one arm. So it worked out well."


The blockbuster trade that sent the NFL's 2013 Offensive Player of the Year to Buffalo had some wondering if LeSean McCoy lost something in 2014. After running for 1,607 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2013, McCoy finished with 1,319 yards and 5 touchdowns last year.

He told The John Murphy Show his drop off in production was due in part to a different offensive philosophy in Philadelphia.

"I think I was just used differently. I was involved in everything, from passing, running game, screens. Last year, I wasn't used the same way. I'm not going to point the finger. Also, there were a lot of injuries. The year I had the big one, 1600, we had 17-weeks of a full healthy line. That makes a big difference. Guys were banged up this past year."

McCoy has had plenty of guidance during his football career from some big name players. When he played college football at Pitt, former Panthers RB Tony Dorsett said McCoy "reminds me of me." And another Pitt all-timer, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, counseled McCoy when the trade with Buffalo was finalized.

"When the trade went down, he was one of the first people to call me," McCoy said. "He said, 'Don't worry about it. You know what you were to Philly and they let you go. Now it's Bills. That's your team. Those are your guys. Play hard and make your name in Buffalo.' That's what he told me."

Former Eagles teammate Michael Vick, who played for Rex Ryan in New York last year, had good things to tell McCoy about the Bills new coach.

"He said Rex loves the players, he'll do anything for them. He won't throw you under the bus. He'll stick his neck out there. He wants to win and he'll do whatever it takes to win."


Felton has spent seven years in the league and Buffalo will be his fifth stop. But Jerome Felton told host John Murphy the red carpet treatment rolled out by the Bills and the Pegulas is unlike anything he's ever seen in the league. The Bills sent a private jet to Atlanta to bring Felton and his girlfriend to Buffalo. And Felton says that kind of treatment means something to free agents.

"It's not all about the money," he says. "Now money matters, obviously. But I tell young guys, you always want to go somewhere where you're wanted. And when an organization pulls out all the stops like that they let you know from the get-go, you're our guy, we need you and we want you to be a Buffalo Bill. When that happens, it just motivates you. I'm ready to work out, I'm ready to get back training. I want to be the best I can be so I give them every penny's worth when it comes to playing football."

Felton's assignment in Buffalo is simple--block. Open holes for LeSean McCoy. He's had just seven total carries in his last four seasons in the league. And he loves being the bruising back who opens up holes for the tailback.

""I really don't look at what I'm doing, catching the ball and things like that. Obviously those things are nice. But when the running back is having a lot of success, getting 200-yards or 150-yards, or averaging five yards per carry—those are the things that get me excited."

"I take it seriously," he told The John Murphy Show. "I joke around that I'm the Secret Service. So he (McCoy) is safe now. Nobody better mess with him-that's all I'm saying."


He's been a career backup in four years with the Baltimore Ravens, but Tyrod Taylor is ready to jump into the Bills quarterback competition. And after sitting behind Joe Flacco for those four years and working against the Ravens first team defense in practice, Taylor says he's well equipped for the roster battle in Buffalo.

"I think so," he says. "I was fortunate enough to go against one of the top defenses every day in practice. I think that carried over to when I got my shots in preseason or some snaps in regular season—I could put out good tape."

Some have speculated that the Bills offense may use Taylor as a read-option specialist, given his mobility and his athleticism. If that happens, Taylor says bring it on.

"I'm open to it. I know I can move. I definitely can throw the football though and I want to show people that as well."

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