AFC East: Buffalo Bills

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Bills 

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
12:15
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Is a consensus developing around which position the Buffalo Bills should draft with the ninth overall pick?

After trading for wide receiver Mike Williams earlier this month, the Bills are expected to target offensive tackle or tight end with their first-round selection.

In each of his four mock drafts, ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has projected a tackle to the Bills. So what about in his most recent mockInsider, which was released today?


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The Buffalo Bills pulled off the shocker of the first round last year when they selected former Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel with the No. 16 overall pick.

Manuel
Buffalo received various criticisms from draft experts. Manuel was the first quarterback taken when many felt it was a reach. ESPN’s Todd McShay was perhaps one of the harshest critics of the Bills, calling the Manuel pick “a waste” in the first round.

“He is someone you develop three or four years down the road,” McShay said last year. “Personally, when I look at this pick, I think it's one of those you look at as a waste. Because there was opportunity to do something really good with this draft pick, and not even at the quarterback position. There were plenty of other positions they needed to draft to get better in certain areas. ... EJ Manuel is not a first-round draft pick at the quarterback position. I think it's going to be a big mistake for this organization."

A year later the jury is still out on Manuel. He had an up-and-down rookie season where he threw for 1,972 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

But where would Manuel rank if he was in this year’s draft with other top quarterback prospects such as Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater? According to former NFL general manager and current NFL Network analyst Charlie Casserly, Manuel still would not rank favorably in 2014.

“I've got a lot of guys rated ahead of [Manuel] based on their college career and based on Manuel's college career," Casserly said on NFL Network this week. "Bridgewater, Bortles, Manziel, [Derek] Carr, [Jimmy] Garoppolo and [AJ] McCarron -- I've got them all rated ahead of EJ Manuel coming out a year ago. And you know what, LSU quarterback [Zach] Mettenberger, I've got him ahead of Manuel, too."

Seven 2014 rookie quarterbacks ahead of Manuel? Ouch!

It’s clear that Casserly was (and still is) not a fan of Manuel. But saying last year’s first-round pick would be behind that many quarterbacks in the 2014 draft is harsh.

Ultimately, the only opinions that matter are Manuel and the Bills organization. It’s up to Manuel to prove detractors -- such as McShay and Casserly -- wrong on the football field this season.
The Buffalo Bills pulled off one of the biggest surprises in the first round of last year’s NFL draft when they selected EJ Manuel. He was the first quarterback taken off the board, and the pick garnered national headlines and mixed reaction.

What will the Bills have in store this year in the first round with the No. 9 overall pick? ESPN draft expert Todd McShay provided his fourth mock draft Insider, and Buffalo's projection may surprise you.


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Mettenberger
The Buffalo Bills have representatives in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday to check out former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger's pro day, a source tells ESPN.com.

Buffalo was 28th in passing last season and has one of the NFL’s least-experienced group of quarterbacks. EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel and Dennis Dixon have all combined for just 20 career starts.

Mettenberger is one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in this year’s draft. He threw for 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions for LSU before a season-ending knee injury last November hurt his stock. Wednesday marks the first time Mettenberger will throw in front of pro scouts since the injury.

Most project Mettenberger to be a second-round pick. He's considered in the second tier of quarterbacks prospects behind Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel.
Buffalo Bills controlling owner Mary Wilson, the widow of late owner Ralph Wilson, greeted fans as they signed a guestbook for her late husband at a memorial service Saturday.

The Bills released the following statement from Mary Wilson during the event:
"I want to take this opportunity to thank Bills fans and people everywhere for their tremendous outpouring of love for Ralph. Their heartfelt condolences and warm wishes have truly been a comfort for me, Ralph’s daughters Christy and Dee Dee, Mary Owen and the entire Wilson family during this difficult time.”

“Ralph loved his life and he had a great full life that touched so many people in a variety of ways. He loved his family and his many friends. He loved his Buffalo Bills and he loved the fans. Before he passed, he told me that he wanted people to celebrate his life after he was gone. He wasn’t big on tears. And so that’s why we are referring to events such as the one today as “celebrating” the life of Ralph Wilson.”

“This man accomplished so many things during his time and most of them have been well documented in the past couple of weeks. But the one thing that everyone has mentioned in their kind words was his sense of humor and that certainly was one of his most endearing qualities. Ralph most likely would have offered a funny quip about today’s event. But at the same time, he would have been profoundly touched by the fans outpouring of emotion."
When the Tennessee Titans released running back Chris Johnson earlier Friday, each NFL Nation reporter was polled on his or her team's chances of signing Johnson. For the Bills, I said their interest was 'low,' because of the presence of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in the backfield.

Then came news Friday afternoon from ESPN Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky, who reported that the Bills and Miami Dolphins were the two teams closest to making a move with the Titans before Johnson was released.

Spiller
Johnson
It's a nugget that could be as much about C.J. Spiller as it is about Johnson.

With Spiller and Jackson, there would be few opportunities for Johnson to get carries. That wouldn't be the most efficient use of Johnson, who has rushed for at least 1,000 yards each season since being drafted in 2008, so something would have to give.

Both Spiller and Jackson will become free agents this season. Jackson is 33 -- and has faced injury issues in both knees -- but he performed much more consistently than Spiller last season. It would be almost unimaginable for the Bills to move on from Jackson, their offensive captain, in favor of Johnson.

That leaves Spiller, who never got into a groove in first-year offensive coordinator Nate Hackett's system. Although Spiller averaged 4.6 yards per carry, he averaged fewer than three yards per carry in six games. On plays with at least five yards to gain for a first down, Spiller lost yardage on 14.4 percent of his runs, the worst rate among NFL running backs with a qualifying amount of carries.

Hampered by an ankle injury, Spiller played 34 percent of offensive snaps, considerably less than Jackson's 56 percent and the fewest since Spiller's rookie season. Spiller's 185 receiving yards were also the fewest since he was a rookie.

Spiller said following the season that he would not request a trade.

“A trade? Nah. I don’t have any reason to. [I’m] satisfied,” he said on Dec. 30. “You know, I don’t have any, you know, bad feelings with this organization or with [CEO] Russ [Brandon] or with, you know, [general manager] Doug Whaley. You know, I like Coach [Doug] Marrone and I like [running backs] Coach [Tyrone] Wheatley, so I have no reason to go nowhere else, but you know that’s stuff I can’t control. But I wouldn’t go up there and ask for one.”

Spiller has a $5.9 million cap hit this season, the sixth-highest on the Bills' roster. However, trading Spiller would only save about $1.8 million Still, there would be incentive for the Bills to trade Spiller this offseason instead of losing him to the open market next offseason.

Now that the Titans have released Johnson, the Bills have the opportunity to sign him without having to give up anything in a trade. If they choose to pursue Johnson further, it would continue to cast doubt on Spiller's future.
The Titans held on to Chris Johnson until Friday because they felt they had potential to trade him.

At least two teams gave Tennessee a real sense that a deal could be reached. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported four teams were interested, but a source tells me Miami and Buffalo were the teams that came closest to making a move.

Johnson would have had to reduce his contract, which called for base salaries of $8 million, $8 million and $7 million.

I can't envision Johnson wanting to go to Buffalo. Choosing to hit the open market instead of facilitating a trade there would be an understandable move.

The Dolphins and Miami might be attractive. But if he didn't like the Titans' offensive line in transition, the shakeup the Dolphins have undergone hardly suggests a line that will have jelled by opening day.
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Mike Williams is getting a second chance.

Four-and-a-half years after then-Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone announced that Williams had left the team, Marrone and the Buffalo Bills traded for the talented wide receiver Friday.

The Bills will send a sixth-round draft choice to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for Williams.

It will be a homecoming for Williams, who is a Buffalo native and attended Riverside High School in the city. After a standout high school career, Williams had a rocky tenure at Syracuse.

Williams was suspended for the entire 2008 season at Syracuse after cheating on a test. In November 2009, Williams left the team after he and three other teammates were involved in a crash coming home from a late-night visit to a casino. One report later said that Marrone, in his first season as Syracuse's head coach, held a team vote and the majority of players wanted Williams to return, but that coaches weren't able to contact him.

The next spring, the Buccaneers drafted Williams in the fourth round and he burst onto the NFL scene. As a rookie, Williams started 16 games, catching 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns. He matched his reception total the next season and added 63 catches in 2012 for a career-high 996 yards.

[+] EnlargeMike Williams
Rob Foldy/USA TODAY SportsAcquiring Mike Williams cost the Bills only a sixth-round pick.
His steady performance over his first three seasons earned Williams a five-year contract extension last summer, but a hamstring injury limited Williams to six games last season.

In February, Williams faced misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and trespassing after he hosted a string of parties at his Tampa house. New Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith later called Williams' behavior "disturbing," according to the Tampa Bay Times. Williams was also hospitalized last week after being stabbed in the thigh by his brother.

The Buccaneers have traded away a player who started to become a headache for the team, while the Bills acquire a player with significant potential.

The move comes with little risk to the Bills. A sixth-round pick is a small price to pay for a player of Williams' talent. From a financial standpoint, the Bills won't break the bank this season to add Williams.

Williams' cap hit in 2014 will be $1.8 million, which includes a guaranteed $1.2 million base salary and a $600,000 workout bonus. In 2015, Williams is due a guaranteed $5.2 million base salary and a $1 million roster bonus. While the deal continues through 2018, there is no guaranteed money after the 2015 season.

Where does Williams fit in the Bills offense? That remains to be seen. It's possible the Bills could now decide to move on from Stevie Johnson, who has an $8.5 million cap hit this season. However, that remains a long shot. If they keep Johnson, it wouldn't be hard to envision Williams, Johnson, and Robert Woods -- a second-round pick last season -- forming the core of the Bills' receiver group.

Williams' acquisition puts T.J. Graham, a third-round pick in 2012, squarely on the roster bubble. Graham started six games last season but is seen as a one-dimensional player who must find ways to contribute beyond being a speed threat.

Trading for Williams also makes it less likely that the Bills will target one of the top wide receiver prospects -- Clemson's Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M's Mike Evans -- with the ninth overall pick in next month's NFL draft. They could instead turn their attention to one of the top offensive tackles available, although the draft is always a fluid process and much could change based on which players are still on the board.

Ultimately, this trade will be judged as much by Williams' off-field behavior as his on-field performance. Under Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley, the Bills have shown a willingness to acquire players with character concerns. Last season, they drafted two players who were arrested in college -- linebacker Kiko Alonso and safety Duke Williams -- and they signed fullback Evan Rodriguez, who had two DUI arrests, last season.

The Bills also hosted wide receiver Kenny Britt, who has been arrested multiple times, on a free-agent visit last month. Additionally, the NFL Network reported that the Bills had interest in DeSean Jackson, whose off-field behavior was in the spotlight following his release by the Philadelphia Eagles. Britt signed with St. Louis and Jackson signed with Washington.

Last spring, when the Bills signed undrafted free agent Da'Rick Rogers -- who was dismissed from Tennessee's football team after failed drug tests -- Marrone gave an explanation for the signing that could likely apply to Williams' case, as well.

"I've had experiences before, myself as a position coach, coordinator, where we've taken some kids that made mistakes when they were younger," Marrone said. "We do believe in giving people second chances, especially when they have shown for a long period of time that they have done a good job."

Now it's Williams' turn to have a second chance.
In his latest mock draft, Insider ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper projects picks based on how he would choose players, not on how he believes the draft will actually unfold.

In this case, Kiper's selection for the Buffalo Bills at ninth overall falls in line with what most have projected the Bills to do.


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The Buffalo Bills are hosting three more players on pre-draft visits Wednesday, the team announced.

A pair of Ohio State prospects -- linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby -- as well as Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk are all visiting the Bills' facility.

The Bills hosted Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas and Indiana receiver Cody Latimer on Tuesday, which were the first two visits that the team has disclosed. Each NFL team is allowed 30 visits prior to May's draft.

Shazier had an unofficial 40-yard dash of 4.36 seconds at his pro day, which would have ranked among the top performances at any position at the NFL combine. Shazier did not run at the combine because of an injury.

The Bills signed a pair of free-agent linebackers, Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers, last month, but both have questions as pass defenders. Shazier, who is projected to be an early-round pick, would be a good fit next to Kiko Alonso in sub packages.

Roby is also expected to be an early-round pick. His role would be less certain, at least initially, as the Bills have Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, and Corey Graham atop their depth chart at cornerback.

Seastrunk is projected to be a mid-round pick. That could be the sweet spot for the Bills to draft a running back. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are both scheduled to become free agents after this season, which creates a long-term need at the position.
Representatives from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, which is treating former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly for oral cancer, released the following statement Tuesday:
NEW YORK -- Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly will start chemotherapy and radiation treatments targeting cancer cells in his maxillary sinus and adjacent tissues next week, Peter D. Costantino, MD, executive director of Lenox Hill Hospital’s New York Head & Neck Institute, reported today.

Mr. Kelly will be receiving a single dose of chemotherapy at Lenox Hill Hospital, along with concurrent daily radiation therapy treatments. The chemotherapy will be repeated as an outpatient in approximately three weeks and six weeks. The radiation therapy will be a six-week regimen carried out at the North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute's Center for Advanced Medicine in Lake Success, NY, which is home to a new $47 million, 30,000-square-foot radiation medicine facility that opened earlier this year.

"At the conclusion of chemotherapy and radiation, we will wait two-to-three months to determine the status of his cancer before deciding if surgery will be necessary," said Dr. Costantino, a leading authority on cranial base tumor surgery and craniofacial reconstruction.

Dr. Costantino noted that Mr. Kelly has not been previously treated with chemotherapy or radiation, so he said he is confident that this current treatment regimen has a good chance of successfully impacting the cancer. "As I have stated previously, Jim Kelly’s condition remains very treatable and potentially curable,” he said. “Even if chemotherapy and radiation are not successful in eradicating the cancer, his skull-base tumor remains operable."
Buffalo Bills fansAP Photo/Paul SpinelliThe Bills have a passionate fan base, but more lucrative markets are a threat to lure the team away.
A week ago, relocation wasn't on the minds of most Buffalo Bills fans.

Following the death of owner Ralph Wilson last Tuesday, it's an issue that the city, the team and its fans must now face. While the complicated process of finding a new owner and the Bills' current stadium lease will prevent relocation in the immediate future, the long-term outlook of the team is still uncertain.

Wilson's death has magnified a debate that will only sharpen in the coming years. Some, like former Buffalo mayor Tony Masiello, say the Bills are supported well enough to remain in the region.

"There are a lot of good reasons to have a football team in Western New York," Masiello told ESPN on Monday. "It's a regionally based franchise with loyal, committed fans. We've produced in the past and we'll produce in the future."

Others, like Buffalo News metro columnist Donn Esmonde, say that business interests will shift the team to a more lucrative market.

"Enjoy the Bills here while you can," Esmonde wrote Sunday. "I like a long shot as much as the next guy. But let’s not kid ourselves. The economics of the NFL long ago whizzed past our smaller-market, economically stagnant burg."

The NFL is not fond of relocation. League policy "favors stable team community relations" and states that "no club has an entitlement to relocate simply because it perceives an opportunity for enhanced club revenues in another location." Ultimately, there needs to be the right set of circumstances and a new owner must clear several hurdles before moving a team, including a three-quarters vote of NFL owners.

In proposing relocation, teams must consider 12 factors, per NFL policy.

The factor that protects Buffalo the most is "[T]he extent to which fan loyalty to and support for the club has been demonstrated during the team's tenure in the current community." There is little doubt that the Bills have a passionate following in the area. Even though the team struggles to sell out some of its home games, the Bills play in the NFL's 11th-largest stadium. Comparing stadium capacity to regional population, there is relatively strong support for the team.

"Sunday in and Sunday out, there are 72,000, 73,000 people in [those] stands," said Masiello, who served as Buffalo's mayor from 1994 to 2005.

Yet, that could potentially be dwarfed by greater opportunities elsewhere. Another factor listed is "whether the club proposes to relocate to a community or region in which no other member club of the League is located; and the demographics of the community to which the team proposes to move." Los Angeles, for example, is the second-most populous city in the country. It doesn't have an NFL team.

The NFL doesn't want to lose its strong support in Buffalo and the Bills moving would mean a hit to the NFL's income from the region. But the NFL also wants to make soccer fans in London into NFL fans, and make money from them. It wants to sell luxury boxes and club seats to rich corporations in Los Angeles, and make money from them, too. Why let the Lakers and Dodgers have the exclusive rights to those companies' pockets?

"Our region doesn’t have a single Fortune 500 company or an abundance of private wealth," Esmonde wrote. "Owners in larger cities -- Dallas’ Jerry Jones springs to mind -- pocket vastly more dollars than an owner here in sponsorships, local advertising, luxury suites, club seating, season tickets, seat licenses (entry fees for season tickets) and other profit-churners.

"But maximizing dollars becomes imperative for the next Bills owner if he or she takes on debt to buy the team, worth an estimated $870 million. Facing annual loan payments of tens of millions of dollars -- something Wilson never had -- is a huge incentive to be in a market where you can rake it in. That isn't Buffalo."

"I don't buy that for a second," Masiello said. "Corporate Buffalo and Western New York, along with our partners in Rochester and Southern Ontario and Western Pennsylvania, I think everybody will dig deep, whether you're a fan or a business to keep the Bills in Buffalo."

Unless the NFL wants to expand beyond 32 teams and explore new markets without sacrificing existing ones, something has to give.

NFL relocation rules state that, "in considering a proposed relocation, the Member Clubs are making a business judgment concerning how best to advance their collective interests." Owners may eventually need to decide between committing to a Buffalo market that, after 54 years, may have maxed out its fan support or by developing potentially lucrative markets in Los Angeles, Toronto or London.

It's a question that also applies to teams like the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, who both have more urgent stadium concerns than Buffalo, or a club like the Jacksonville Jaguars that is plagued by relatively dismal fan support. Relocating any of those teams would take pressure off Buffalo.

Building a new stadium in Western New York would do more than take pressure off Buffalo -- it would ensure the team's presence in the region for the next several decades.

That would address another one of the NFL's 12 factors, which is "the adequacy of the stadium in which the club played its home games in the previous season; the willingness of the stadium authority or the community to remedy any deficiencies in or to replace such facility, including whether there are legislative or referenda proposals pending to address these issues."

The Bills, Erie County and New York State took the first step toward remedying deficiencies in their 40-year-old facility by completing their "new stadium working group" last week. It's an important move, and the rest of the NFL will be monitoring the committee's progress closely.

"There's going to be a full-court press to keep this team in this city, in Western New York. I know our governor and county executive and mayor," Masiello said. "There will probably be a new stadium six to seven years from now."

Building a new venue will be a years-long process that will likely require the cooperation of a new ownership group. It's hard to envision the parties currently controlling the team pushing the process through to lock any potential buyers into a new local venue. Doing so could drive down the value of the team.

"A new stadium might generate more revenue for an owner," Esmonde wrote. "But sports economists say it won’t squeeze nearly the numbers from our wealth-challenged region as a big-city crib."

Over the last decades of Wilson's life, the Bills were able to avoid the allure of the big city, trying to make do with lesser resources.

"When you're from Buffalo, you're basically an underdog," Masiello said. "We're not glamorous, fancy, but [Wilson] could have moved the team to L.A. or Seattle or some of these other glamorous cities and he kept it in Buffalo and he kept his word."

With Wilson now gone, how much longer can that underdog story last?

That's the question that's now on most fans' minds.
It doesn't feel like spring quite yet, but the third month of the offseason will wrap up today.

Four weeks ago, we asked what we would learn about the Buffalo Bills this month.

Here are the answers to most of those questions, along with some other developments:

Uncertain times in Orchard Park: March went out like a lion for the Bills. The death of owner Ralph Wilson on March 25 sends the franchise into uncharted territory. There won't be any immediate changes, but the eventual sale of the team has naturally led to questions about relocation and the future of the team in the market. The same week that Wilson died the Bills announced their appointments to a "new stadium working group," a committee that will explore the possibility of building a new stadium in the area. The matters of new ownership and a new stadium are interconnected and together they will remain part of the discussion around the team for the next several years.

Bills 'postpone' Toronto game: As predicted, the Bills came to a resolution over their beleaguered Toronto series this month. The game won't be played this season, but the Bills' deal with Rogers Communications remains in place and could resume in future years. It's a decision that came after years of fan complaints about the atmosphere in the Rogers Centre and the lack of an eighth home game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The "postponement" of the series is cast in a brighter light following Wilson's death; if the eighth home game leads to a lag in ticket sales, especially a blackout, it will be a black mark for the region's case against relocation.

Byrd flies away: It seems ages ago given the news of the past several weeks, but the Bills lost a three-time Pro Bowl player this month. The New Orleans Saints signed safety Jairus Byrd to a deal worth $9 million per season, a price that it's hard to fault the Bills for avoiding. However, they still must fill the void within their defense. They're expecting continued improvement from Aaron Williams and gave him a contract extension that reflects that hope, but their other safety spot is a question mark. At the NFL owners meetings this month, coach Doug Marrone suggested that cornerback Corey Graham -- who signed a four-year deal on March 12 -- could be a candidate at that position.

Spikes and linebacker shuffle: The Bills' biggest splash of free agency came when they signed Brandon Spikes, who figures to add an aggressive presence to their defense, especially against the run. Spikes will slide in at middle linebacker in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's 4-3 scheme, with Kiko Alonso moving to the weak side. The Bills also signed Keith Rivers to presumably start on the strong side, and he could also play a role within the sub defense. Changes under Schwartz may reduce veteran linebacker Manny Lawson to a lesser role within the defense.

Joint practices planned: The Bills will likely have the NFL's busiest summer. They figure to start training camp a week earlier than usual -- as early as July 19 -- as they play in the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 3. At some point after that, the Bills will travel to Latrobe, Pa., for joint practices with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Because of ongoing renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills have requested their first two preseason games to be played on the road. Combined with their annual trip to St. John Fisher College, the Bills' equipment and operations staffs will be busy this summer.
Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly is battling a recurrence of oral cancer and has traveled to New York City for treatment.

Kelly was initially scheduled for surgery, but that procedure was canceled Wednesday.

“The cancer is in areas that surgery cannot successfully eradicate,” Kelly’s wife Jill wrote on her Facebook page.

Dr. Peter Costantino, directing Kelly’s treatment at Lenox Hill Hospital, said in a statement that Kelly’s condition “remains very treatable and potentially curable.” He will soon undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

The NFL world and fans across social media have offered their support to Kelly and his family. Earlier in the week, the hashtag #GetWellJimKelly trended nationwide. Along with #PrayersforJK, the hashtag continues to generate positive engagement on Twitter.

Here's a sampling of the love Kelly has received via social media:

Since the Buffalo Bills signed a 10-year lease with Erie County in 2012, it has been believed that it would be difficult -- but not impossible -- to relocate the team before 2020.

Included in the lease is a $400 million penalty if the team is moved within the first seven years, prior to a one-time option to buy out of the lease for $28 million after the 2019 season. In an interview with WGR 550 last month, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz made reference to only the financial aspect of relocation and did not completely rule out the possibility.

"I've sat down and talked to [Bills CEO] Russ Brandon on this a number of times," Poloncarz said. "Numbers-wise, it would be very difficult to move this team by paying the $400 million penalty."

On his Twitter account Thursday, Poloncarz expressed a slightly different viewpoint, citing a Toronto Sun story Wednesday that said the Bills would not move prior to 2020. In a follow-up tweet, Poloncarz called the agreement "ironclad."

Whether it is "ironclad" or just "very difficult" for a new ownership group to move the team prior to 2020, the main takeaway from Poloncarz's Twitter comments Thursday is that there is a separate agreement, outside of the lease, that protects the team from relocation.

That agreement is a complex legal document that Poloncarz said was approved by the NFL. As the Toronto Sun reported Wednesday, that separate document presents the $400 million penalty as a "liquidated damages" matter, meaning it covers the county only if they can't win a court battle. It's just not as simple as the Bills (under a new ownership group) paying $400 million and walking away.

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