AFC East: negotiations

Bills agree to 10-year lease

December, 21, 2012
The Buffalo Bills finally resolved their stadium issue. On Friday the Buffalo News reported the Bills agreed a new 10-year lease at Ralph Wilson.

This keeps the Bills in western New York. However, there is an out in the lease that should be concerning for Bills fans. The team can leave Buffalo after seven years for a relatively small penalty of $29 million. For perspective, that's about half of what the team paid quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick ($59 million) in 2011. The penalty for the Bills leaving before 2020 is a significant $400 million.

That pretty much amounts to a "band-aid" contract for the next seven years. Ralph Wilson Stadium reportedly will get $130 million in revovations, with $35 million being paid by the team and $95 million being paid by county and state tax payers. Both sides compromised from the previous estimate of $200 million or more, mainly due to the difficult economic conditions in western New York.

The good news with this lease is Bills fans do not have to worry about their team relocating for the next seven years. But the Bills' long-term future seems murky beyond 2020.
The deadline for New England Patriots Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker to get a contract extension is about 24 hours away -- and things still look bleak.

A source told’s Mike Reiss this weekend Welker and the Patriots are not expected to reach an agreement before Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. That means Welker will play 2012 on the one-year franchise tag of $9.5 million and become an unrestricted free agent in 2013.

Not much has changed between Welker and the Patriots in the past few weeks. Both sides are talking but progress is slow. The Patriots appear comfortable keeping Welker, 31, on the one-year franchise tag, while Welker wants long-term security.

Either way, Welker said he would not let his contract situation impact his performance. Welker had at least 100 receptions in four of the past five seasons. He is an important part of the offense and that will continue in 2012.

But what happens in 2013 between Welker and the Patriots does not look good. The franchise price tag will increase next year to the point where the Patriots wouldn't pay it. It also appears less likely New England would provide a long-term extension to Welker at 32, when the team isn't expected to do the same a year earlier.

If things play out Monday as expected, this could be Welker's final season as a Patriot. Is this the right call for the defending AFC champions?