AFC East: Angelo Crowell

Patriots win out in compensatory forecast

March, 10, 2010
In the book of great NFL mysteries, it's listed on the same page as "How did the Raiders wash Fred Biletnikoff's socks?"

The unanswerable question I'm referring to: "How does the NFL determine compensatory picks?"

Nobody knows because the league refuses to provide detailed insight into the formula. We know it depends on the number of free agents gained and lost the previous offseason and how well those players performed that year. Factors include the player's salary, playing time and awards -- we think.

But there's a compensatory vigilante out there who goes by the handle AdamJT13. He seems to have darn near cracked the code and has been giving accurate forecasts for 10 years.

My personal policy is not to link to people who write anonymously, but AdamJT13 has a track record and provides a unique service. With that in mind, here are his compensatory projections for AFC East clubs. The NFL will announce the official rundown in a couple weeks.

Buffalo Bills: None. They signed two qualifying free agents (quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, center Geoff Hangartner) and lost two (cornerback Jabari Greer, linebacker Angelo Crowell). AdamJT13 adds the Bills could get a compensatory pick at the end of the seventh round based on net value of the players lost, depending on the evaluations.

Miami Dolphins: Sixth-round pick. AdamJT13 notes it might be a seventh-rounder, or depending on how the NFL views guard Joe Berger, nothing at all. They signed one definite qualifying free agent (center Jake Grove) and lost two definites (cornerback Andre' Goodman and safety Renaldo Hill).

New England Patriots: Four seventh-round picks for losing receiver Jabar Gaffney, long-snapper Lonie Paxton, fullback Heath Evans and running back LaMont Jordan, but not signing any definite qualifying free agents. Gaffney could be good enough for a sixth-rounder.

New York Jets: None. They signed at least as many qualifying free agents (linebacker Bart Scott, safety Jim Leonhard, cornerback Donald Strickland and maybe linebacker Larry Izzo) as they lost (receiver Laveranues Coles, linebacker Eric Barton, defensive end C.J. Mosley and maybe cornerback Hank Poteat).

Around the AFC East: Jets QBs don't miss rumors

April, 9, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

New York Jets

  • Newark Star-Ledger reporter Dave Hutchinson writes Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff find it refreshing not to answer Jay Cutler questions.
  • Newsday's Erik Boland talks with defensive end Marques Douglas, who ranks third in tackles for loss over the past six seasons.
  • New York Daily News beat writer Rich Cimini reports running back Leon Washington is confident he'll get a new contract hammered out.
  • Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News says the Cowboys can't lose restricted free-agent receiver Miles Austin, who's visiting the Jets.

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Crowell would be another Buffalo surprise

March, 16, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

If you were to have asked me two weeks ago to rank the most unlikely Buffalo Bills signings this offseason, these players would have comprised my top five:

  1. Barry Sanders
  2. J.P. Losman
  3. Angelo Crowell
  4. Travis Henry
  5. Terrell Owens

Steve Wyche of has reported Crowell was expected to visit the Bills on Monday if the seventh-year linebacker wasn't able to reach terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the weekend.

Two sources close to Crowell informed me in January there was no way he would return to the Bills after they placed him on injured reserve right before last season started.

The Bills made the controversial move because Crowell waited so long to decide he was going to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery that would have sidelined him a projected four to six weeks. But the Bills erased their leading tackler for the duration.

The Bills claimed they needed the roster spot. Logic implied vindictiveness.

But the Bills probably hurt themselves in the process. If they bring Crowell back after interviewing Jamie Winborn, Cato June and Freddy Keiaho, it will only underscore how much the Bills could have used him last year.

Around the AFC East: Pats chatting with Wilfork

February, 21, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

  • New York Daily News reporter Rich Cimini thinks the Jets could release right guard Brandon Moore to clear extra room for free agent linebacker Ray Lewis.
  • Vinny DiTrani of the Bergen Record writes about new coach Rex Ryan's unbridled confidence.

Bills free-agency dossier

January, 16, 2009

Posted by's Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills have a healthy number of free agents in every category, but not many regular starters among them.

Buffalo's priority free agents appear to be cornerback Jabari Greer, linebacker Keith Ellison, center Duke Preston, third-string quarterback Gibran Hamdan and not much else.

The Bills are about $27 million to $30 million under the salary cap.

Unrestricted (free to negotiate with any team beginning Feb. 27)

Restricted (Bills have right to match offer from other team)

Exclusive rights (cannot negotiate with other teams if tendered qualifying offer)

Around the AFC East: Jauron sweats it out

December, 30, 2008

Posted by's Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots New York Jets

Bills defensive coordinator 'disappointed'

November, 26, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills went into 2008 with high hopes on defense. Strong safety Donte Whitner was so psyched up about the season he issued a playoff guarantee over the summer.

The Bills traded for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud. Linebacker Paul Posluszny, a former Butkus Award winner, and Ko Simpson were returning from season-erasing injuries.

After 11 games, the Bills are about as pedestrian as you can get. They rank 19th in scoring defense, 16th in total defense, 20th in run defense and 16th in pass defense.

"I am disappointed with where we are at this point," Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Wednesday. "I didn't think we were an elite defense. I thought we were good enough to be in the top 15 or top 10 defenses.

"When you allow explosive plays, that screws up every number that you could think of. And then we had trouble, maybe two weeks we didn't do very well on third down, maybe three weeks. It's an accumulation of things like our continuity isn't as good as it was early, and so now we just have to get our continuity back and try and get our mojo back."

A few injuries have exposed a stunning lack of depth.

While the New England Patriots suffer a series of monumental, year-ending injuries and keep winning, the Bills are staggered by some nagging problems.

Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel has been the biggest loss, a bum foot keeping him out six straight games. Whitner has missed time with a separated shoulder. Cornerbacks Terrence McGee and Jabari Greer have battled sprained knees.

"As we always say, everybody's got their injuries," Bills coach Dick Jauron said. "You just have to find a way to play through them, over them, and find a way to get a victory somehow."

But what of their reserve linebackers? They made a controversial decision to put last year's leading tackler, Angelo Crowell, on injured reserve, seemingly to punish him for opting to have relatively minor knee surgery right before the season.

The backups behind Posluszny, Kawika Mitchell and Keith Ellison (he didn't practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury) have been a crew comprised of Blake Costanzo, Teddy Lehman, Jon Corto, Marcus Buggs and John DiGiorgio -- names that could be mistaken for the Tonawanda City Council.

Bryan Scott, the 6-foot-1, 219-pound safety, has been working out with the linebackers.

Bills' decision on LB Crowell gets more significant

October, 22, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills middle linebacker John DiGiorgio is done for the year because of a knee injury.


I wonder what Angelo Crowell is up to these days?

Doesn't matter, I suppose. The Bills placed Crowell, their leading tackler last year, on injured reserve just before the season began even though he might've been back on the field by now.

Crowell's strange situation became that much more dubious with DiGiorgio's season coming to an end.

For those unfamiliar with Crowell's tale, here is a story I wrote last month. To summarize, the Bills were upset Crowell decided two days before the season opener he wanted to have arthroscopic surgery that likely would have sidelined him about four weeks. But the Bills were caught unaware. Incensed by the timing, they put him on IR.

Their hasty decision could haunt them.

Crowell played the strong-side linebacker position in Buffalo's 4-3 defense and amassed 126 tackles by the team's count. DiGiorgio was last year's starting middle linebacker when a broken forearm shelved Paul Posluszny.

Although they played slightly different positions, DiGiorgio's absence leaves Buffalo's depth that much weaker. They also lost rookie Alvin Bowen in training camp. To say the Bills couldn't use a healthy Crowell would be absurd.

Blake Costanzo, cut in training camp but re-signed when Crowell was placed on IR, is Buffalo's most seasoned backup. Costanzo has played nine career NFL games, including six this year, with zero starts. He is listed second on the depth chart behind Keith Ellison at Crowell's old position.

Crowell, whose contract is up after the season, left the Bills when they placed him on IR. His season already over, he opted for a more extensive procedure in mid-September and has been rehabbing in Pensacola, Fla.

Knee-jerk Crowell decision could haunt Bills

September, 19, 2008
 Will the Bills regret hastily placing LB Angelo Crowell, last year's leading tackler, on injured reserve?

Posted by's Tim Graham

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Almost forgotten amid the buzz surrounding the Buffalo Bills is whatever became of Angelo Crowell.

In a bizarre sequence of events, the veteran linebacker elected to have knee surgery three days before the season opener. The Bills, incensed at the timing and fuming over left tackle Jason Peters' holdout, placed Crowell on injured reserve.

Just like that, the Bills scratched last year's leading tackler for the season. They did so even though Crowell's recovery would have lasted five weeks at the longest. He could have played 11 games and the postseason.

The Bills' decision screamed of vindictiveness from emotions already inflamed by Peters' absence. Crowell was on the final year of his contract. Letting him rot will curtail his value on the free-agent market.

But who did the Bills really punish, the player or themselves?

"I'm advising Angelo to take the high road and not respond to some inaccurate comments coming out about him," Crowell's agent, Todd France, told me Friday night.

The matter essentially was brushed aside by other news. The next day, Peters agreed to report to the Bills, ending a prolonged saga that hovered over the team for weeks. Then the Bills beat the Seattle Seahawks on the same afternoon the AFC East broke wide open with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's buckled knee.

Crowell became an afterthought. The Bills moved his locker stall from a place of prominence to a corner location befitting practice squad players, and everybody went about their business in Orchard Park.

"No one is going to quit on me," Bills owner Ralph Wilson told Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan after the Seahawks victory.

Crowell won't need the locker. He went home the day the Bills ended his season. He hasn't been back since and doesn't intend to return.

Noted sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews this week performed the operation on Crowell's left knee, which had been bothering Crowell since last season. Crowell is rehabbing in Pensacola, Fla.

France said the procedure was more intensive than the one Crowell would have undergone to get him back on the field sooner. But when the Bills ended Crowell's season, he decided he might as well get the works.

While Andrews isn't the type of doctor who would cut on an athlete for no reason, the Bills claimed Crowell didn't need the surgery. The Bills felt blindsided by his decision even though he struggled through training camp and played only one preseason game.

Adding to the odd situation, though, was the fact Crowell practiced the day before he revealed his intention to have surgery and was not listed on the injury report.

"No player wants to be out any amount of time or have surgery in any season, much less his free-agency year," France said. "At this point, he's dealing with it as best he can. He's trying to stay positive and get 100 percent healthy for next season."

The Bills could have waited to see how Crowell's knee responded to the surgery. They could have kept him on the roster while he recovered, which is what they did last year with backup defensive end Ryan Denney, who broke his foot in preseason and missed the first seven games.

Instead, they banished him to the corner.

Tackles aren't an official NFL stat, which is why there's a discrepancy between the Bills' number for Crowell (140) and's (126). Either way, he led the team last year. He also recorded two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

Keith Ellison is a decent replacement and won't hurt the Bills' defense by being on the field, but for a team that hasn't made the playoffs a franchise-record eight straight seasons, why throw away a top player so hastily?

The only way Crowell would not have made the Bills a better defense down the homestretch would have been unforeseen complications.

The Bills have an unblemished record. But that doesn't mean that haven't already made a major mistake.

AFC East mailbag: We field complaints

September, 6, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

The AFC East mailbag came straight from the complaint department this week.

Readers took umbrage with several of my blogs over the past seven days. They were upset I sketched out a few reasons to be skeptical of Dolphins RB Ricky Williams. They thought some of the selections on my preseason All-AFC East teams were dumb. They didn't like how I slotted their teams in the power rankings. They say I write too much about the Bills. They say I write too much about the Jets-Dolphins game. They say I don't pick up my wet towel off the bathroom floor.

For good or bad, here's the mail. Sorted for your pleasure.

Sergio from Parts Unknown writes: Why are u so negative . whatch ricky do great the season and then i hope u write something again but this time to be positive. if not then leave the fins alone and stop writing stupit stuff find something better to do.

Sam in Norfolk, Va., writes: Why all the Ricky hate?

Mr Anonymous from Cleveland writes: You're a moran, you should think about what you write before you post it seriously. You're giving ESPN a bad rep.

Tim Graham: Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said the running back position was "solved" because Williams was under contract for another year, and I wrote that it could be a reckless assumption.

Just because I bring up some issues that aren't positive about Williams (and to a lesser extent, Ronnie Brown) doesn't mean I'm hating on the guy. I'd like to see Williams do well. A successful season would make for a classic comeback story.

Nowhere in that story do I say he will play poorly or fail or fall on his face. Throughout the whole article, all I'm saying is there are reasons to be skeptical despite Sparano's proclamation.

I'm just taking a wait-and-see approach.

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Audibles: AFC East Week 1 preview

September, 5, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET

One month ago, nobody could have envisioned the Jets and Dolphins being the sexiest Week 1 game in the AFC East. They combined to win five games last year.

But the elements have changed, and fans haven't stopped drooling for weeks.

The Jets pulled off the biggest blockbuster trade in franchise history and obtained future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre. The Dolphins wound up with a fine hand-me-down, signing Chad Pennington and giving him an opportunity for immediate retribution.

Sunday's storylines also include Dolphins football czar Bill Parcells lifting the curtain on his latest project -- against one of his former teams, no less. Dolphins rookie head coach Tony Sparano will make his debut against Eric Mangini, who is from another branch on the Parcells coaching tree. Mangini for the first time will be squaring off to some degree with his former mentor. Dolphins RB Ricky Williams is making his eleventy-sixth comeback and the Jets' rebuilt offensive line will be on display.

So there's some stuff to watch -- if you're into that kind of thing.

Most intriguing about the latest installment of this illustrious AFL rivalry, however, are the QB subplots. Aside from special teams, either Favre or Pennington will be on the field throughout.

The Dolphins might hold a significant advantage with Pennington. He spent eight years with the Jets and was with them through voluntary workouts, minicamp and the first two weeks of training camp.

When he lines up behind C Samson Satele and surveys the defense, it should feel like taking a ride through the old neighborhood. Pennington is the most efficient passer in NFL history and is known as one of the most cerebral. It will be interesting to see how he integrates the familiarity.

Favre, meanwhile, is learning a system and teammates Pennington knows better than he does. Favre showed proficiency with Brian Schottenheimer's playbook in the preseason, but does he know enough of the calls to make them work in Week 1?

For this game anyway, the edge should be Pennington's.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Jets 21

Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET

If the Bills are realists, they know they're playing for a wild-card berth barring a New England Patriots collapse. The Bills need to win every game they're supposed to, and this is one of them. They are opening their season at home against a Seahawks squad thinned by injuries and suspensions.

The Bills, however, are suffering from an internal crisis. The Bills already were without Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters, whose contract dispute doesn't appear close to a conclusion, when they learned Thursday their top returning tackler from last year was done for the year.

LB Angelo Crowell stunned the Bills by electing to have knee surgery. The Bills, apparently upset that another player was thinking of himself first and the team second, responded by placing Crowell on injured reserve.

But Sunday will come down to how the players respond, not the front office. The Bills either can rally together or wallow in discontent. Backup QB J.P. Losman supposedly is done pouting about his role, but WR Lee Evans expected to have his new contract finalized by now.

The game likely will be decided by the Bills' front seven defenders, their six regulars and whomever replaces Crowell -- either Keith Ellison or John DiGiorgio. The Seahawks are smarting at receiver and will need to run the ball effectively to win. That means they'll need to neutralize DT Marcus Stroud and then deal with MLB Paul Posluszny and strong-side LB Kawika Mitchell.

On offense, all eyes will be on QB Trent Edwards. He was limited to only four series in two preseason games because of a deep thigh bruise. How quickly he can find his game rhythm will be crucial. Bulldozer RB Marshawn Lynch should help.

Prediction: Bills 21, Seahawks 17

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

Patriots coach Bill Belichick should rest QB Tom Brady and give the Chiefs a sporting chance -- kind of like taking the laser sight off the rifle before you shoot fish in a bucket. Or something like that.

The Patriots are among the best two or three teams in the NFL. The Chiefs smell worse than Manny Ramirez's batting helmet.

New England does have a weakness: its secondary. Problem is, Kansas City doesn't appear to have the tools to exploit that shortcoming or accomplish much else. Miami's starters totally manhandled Kansas City's starters in the third exhibition game, traditionally the preseason game that most resembles a regular-season contest.

In case you've forgotten, the Patriots feature WRs Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Jabar Gaffney, RBs Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan and the most formidable defensive front in the league. They have that Brady guy, too.

Prediction: Patriots 42, Chiefs 10

Peters returns to Bills not a moment too soon

September, 5, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

The idea of forfeiting a $191,000 game check every week must not have been appealing to Jason Peters.

Although a statement released from the Buffalo Bills' front office suggests a wait-and-see tone for now, has learned the Pro Bowl left tackle definitely will end his holdout and report to the club on Saturday.

Peters is not expected to play in Sunday's season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, who own one of the NFL's better defenses. Peters still has to learn new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert's system. Peters didn't attend OTAs, minicamp or training camp.

But this development is a victory for the Bills front office. Peters has not been promised a new deal and is arriving in hopes progress can be made. He still has three years left on his contract, and the Bills all along have insisted they would not renegotiate his deal until he reports.

News of Peters ending his silence was a positive jolt for the Bills and bolsters their playoff hopes.

The team learned of Peters' decision while still reeling from Thursday's shocking events involving LB Angelo Crowell.

The Bills' leading tackler from last year stunned them days before the season opener by electing to have knee surgery. The Bills responded by placing Crowell on injured reserve, ending his season.

Here's the full statement the Bills released moments ago:

In regards to the report on that Jason Peters is ending his holdout and returning to the Bills, COO Russ Brandon said, "It is our understanding that Jason has filed a re-instatement letter with the National Football League and that he is reporting to One Bills Drive [Saturday] morning."

Around the AFC East: Crowell news mysterious

September, 5, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Bills won't wait on Crowell, put him on IR

September, 4, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills' defense has suffered a resounding blow.

In a one-sentence statement released Thursday night, the Bills announced they've placed LB Angelo Crowell on injured reserve, ending his season. Crowell led the Bills in tackles last year and was a defensive captain.

Crowell was not listed on the Bills' injury report Wednesday, but the Buffalo News is reporting he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday. is reporting Crowell is scheduled for a knee scope to determine the nature of a nagging injury.

Either way, Crowell's season is over. Keith Ellison, who started at weakside LB last year, will move over to Crowell's strongside position.

The Bills responded to Crowell's surgery decision by placing him on IR. That creates room on their 53-man roster. A knee scope -- if that is, in fact, all there is to Crowell's injury -- normally would take only a few weeks to heal.

Had Crowell given the Bills advance notice he wanted the surgery, they could have placed him on the physically unable-to-perform list. That would have allowed him to return to action after sitting out the first six weeks of the regular season.

The move suggests the Bills' front office wasn't too happy about Crowell's decision a few days before their regular-season opener.

Buffalo postmarks all over AFC East mailbag

August, 16, 2008
Posted by's Tim Graham

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- I can't say I'm surprised.

In honor of making my first visit to Buffalo Bills training camp and then their exhibition Thursday night in Toronto, I made one request for Bills fans to submit their questions and comments for this week's AFC East mailbag.

The response was amazing. Seventy-two questions came in over four days, and all but six of them were about the Bills. There was one Dolphins question, one Patriots question, one Jets question and three complaints that I write about Brett Favre too much.

So let me answer the non-Bills questions now: Jerod Mayo appears to be gaining Bill Belichick's trust and could be an immediate contributor; Vernon Gholston looks very uncomfortable when he's not in a three-point stance but he's making strides; Chad Pennington could put Miami in the five- or six-win range.

The rest of this mailbag is dedicated to the Bills because their fans came out strong.

While I read every question, answering each would get repetitive for you to sort through. I received many questions several times over. The most popular subjects were the holdout of Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters (13 questions), Buffalo's playoff chances (seven), the potential for a quarterback controversy after the first preseason game (four), what we can expect from Trent Edwards (three) and how good linebacker Paul Posluszny looks (three).

Matt in Rochester writes: Every year in Western New York there is a sense of hope and promise this is the year the Bills will finally make the playoffs for the first time since the Doug Flutie era. You have gone out on a limb to predict that the Bills will finally make the playoffs (pre-Favre trade). What makes the difference this year?

Tim Graham: Thanks for following my blog, Matt. You're right that I picked the Bills to make the playoffs before the Favre trade -- and before we knew the Jason Peters holdout would drag out so long.

I'm not totally backing off that prediction because I think the Bills have playoff-worthy talent. I just look at the various components and see a 7-9 team that will be better at every position. They clearly were the second-best team in the AFC East last year, and I think they're capable of 9-7 or 10-6 if their youth decides to make a statement.

Mark in Syracuse writes: I am personally drained by the Favre saga, but does having him play for the Jets kill the chance of the Bills to possibly make a run at a wild card spot?

Tim Graham: Favre doesn't totally snuff the Bills' hopes for the wild card, but he makes it harder. With Chad Pennington or Kellen Clemens at quarterback, the Bills had an excellent shot at going 4-0 against the Jets and Dolphins. Now, with Favre to the Jets (and Pennington on the Dolphins), those gimme games got tougher.

Jim in Nashville writes: I need to understand the issue with Jason Peters. It seems that there is more than just a holdout here. I've been a Bills fan for 30 years and don't remember the last time they drew a line in the sand with an important player. Bruce Smith was crucial and whined a lot about money and the more they paid him the better he played. It's obvious we need Peters. Why waste another year on "potential" alone? The Bills need to make some noise.

Tim Graham: I hear you, Jim. This holdout should be worrisome for Bills fans. I think the Bills are drawing a line because they're a small-market team that hasn't made the playoffs since the 1999 season. There's not a lot of extra postseason cash lying around like there was in the Super Bowl years -- as evidenced by their need to outsource games to Toronto. The Bills need to stand firm with Peters for the same reason the police don't negotiate with kidnappers. Buckle once, and everybody knows you might again. The Bills can't afford to reward that approach.

Jason in Rochester writes: The Bills played a preseason game against the Redskins on Saturday. While it wasn't impressive, it was more interesting than 5,000 words on a lap by Favre, don't ya think?

Tim Graham: I saw that first preseason game. Sorry. Favre's penalty lap was more interesting and, thankfully, it was over with much sooner.

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