AFC East: Owens signs

Bills fans abuzz over T.O. deal: Part 1

March, 8, 2009
3/08/09
4:41
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

When I want to find out what Buffalo Bills fans are thinking, I often stop by Two Bills Drive, a message board where passionate observers congregate to talk about their team.

Two Bills Drive sure was buzzing Saturday night. There was a mixture of bewilderment, exhilaration and anguish over Buffalo's decision to sign Terrell Owens to a one-year, $6.5 million contract.

  Owens introduced
  NFL.com Video
  Bills WR Terrell Owens meets the media for the first time after being introduced in Buffalo.

Because I wanted to hear from diehard Bills supporters more than the casual football fan, I asked Two Bills Drive members to submit their thoughts to my AFC East mailbag for the purpose of sharing them here. The response was overwhelming.

Overnight, even with one less hour to work with, I received enough responses to shatter the AFC East mailbag record set back during the great Cassel-Brady debate of aught-8.

There were too many submissions to include in one post, so please enjoy the first of two installments of reaction to T.O. and Buffalo.

Ryan in Buffalo writes: I think that the Bills' signing of TO is one of the most significant things to happen to the Bills this decade. Bringing in a bona-fide future hall of famer is so unlike the Bills that it's turning heads all around the league. He definitely has the power to make Buffalo's offense competetive, and if things don't work out, then he's gone after one year. I suppose it's all on Edwards now--Owens being on the team frees up Lee Evans, and if Trent can get the ball in TO's or Lee's hands, then I honestly think that Buffalo's offensive woes will finally go away. But Edwards no longer gets the benefit of the doubt--with a strong corps of receivers like he has now, he has to step up and prove that he's a legit starter in this league.

Brendan in Camp Pendleton, Calif., writes: Great signing. I've missed most of the past two seasons due to deploying to Iraq. I already got my season tickets for this season and this signing makes it all worth it. For better or worse it shows the front office is trying and is willing to spend the money.

Michael in Albany, N.Y., writes: Tim, I live in Albany, holding the Bills flag highly here in Giants Country. The word that describes my state is "apprehension." Could this work? Maybe. Is there the possibility for a train wreck? More than maybe. That's what worries me. That said at least people are talking about my team. It is a brave new world for Bills fans and the Bills themselves.

Adam in Charlotte, N.C., writes: Shocked. Speechless. Buffaloed. This goes against all that is good and right in the universe! I called my best friend and fellow Bills fan and his comment was, "You mean I have to cheer for that jerk"? Signing T.O. goes against everything that Buffalo stands for: humility, hard work, and community. However, there is some genuine excitement about being relevant again. I despise T.O., but I love the Bills more.

Matt in Rochester, N.Y., writes: The Pats, Dolphins, and Jets all have secondary issues, and I think Owens, if employed correctly, could give the them fits. None of the aforementioned franchises have the corners to press Owens at the line. Whether they admit it or not, he's going to make them respect Buffalo's previously anemic passing game.

Dan from Parts Unknown writes: On the surface, signing TO seems like complete desperation. However, the Bills have sorely lacked a playmaker on Offense or Defense for years... and TO is just that. Not to mention, the Bills have had little identity or fire on the field for years. So, maybe it's just what the doctor ordered. Of course, it could blow up miserably in their face.

Dave in Fort Myers, Fla., writes: Forgive me for not buying into this whole "T.O-Lee Evans" nonsense. Seems to me that T.O. was in a similar situation last year with a WR by the name of Roy Williams, and we saw how that worked out. Not to mention that the Bills have no QB on their roster close to the talent level of Tony Romo. Why should I believe this offense poses a threat to my Phins and the rest of the East?

Stewart from Eden, N.Y.., writes: Tim - My biggest concern with the signing is the mental state of Edwards. At some point during the season TO is going to blow up and potentially turn this franchise into a three ring circus. How Trent responds and his susequent play will speak volumes about his leadership qualities.

 
  James P. McCoy/Buffalo News
  Terrell Owens was nothing but smiles Saturday at a press conference announcing his arrival to Buffalo.

Joe in Buffalo writes: I have to admit, I have always been a Terrell Owens basher. Nonetheless, this franchise needed something to jumpstart it's beat. This was a VERY proud franchise in the 1990's and I feel that Terrell, at the very least, will bring back on offense that has been missing here for over a decade! Nobody circles the wagon....like the Buffalo Bills!

Nick in Rochester, N.Y., writes: Owens will be a distraction - A welcome distraction for fans that have watched their team miss the playoffs for the last nine years.

Ken in Philadelphia writes: The T.O. signing seems like a desperate move by people knowing that their jobs are on the line. Now that the Bills have him, he needs to just shut up and play.

Mike in Grand Island, N.Y., writes: I am all for the TO signing both from a football stand point and a pr move. I had informed the Bills that I wasn't renewing my club seats but I may re-think that position. From a football point of view, it is a relatively cheap price to pay for a legitimate number two treat that should open the field for both Lee Evans and Josh Reed. Hopefully it also shows some other veteran's like Cato June and Kendall Simmons that this team is serious about winning and tip the scales toward Buffalo as they decide were to sign. The public relations bonanza is obvious and it should be remembered that while TO has had his problems in the past, none of those problems w
ere of the legal variety.

Dave in Albuquerque, N.M., writes: I think T.O. being a Bill is just what the Dr. ordered. And don't forget, we still haven't finished in FA or the draft! Go Bills!!!!

Shye in Ashburn, Va., writes: This is a desperate move by a team without hope, without character, and without a plan. The Bills have given us almost nothing to cheer about since the early 90's. I have stuck by this team, because upstate NY is an important part of my identity. There has been an utter lack of leadership from the top down in this organization for at least 10 years, and they have now veered completely off the tracks. Trent Edwards has shown enough talent to maybe be a legitimate NFL starter someday. T.O has demonstrated over and over again that he can not share the stage with anyone. He will never last in a small market that has such a strong emotional tie to this fragile, storied franchise. Have fun in Canada with your new OLD receiver Ralph - you just lost one of your most loyal former fans - along with my dollars.

Pat in Tonawanda, N.Y., writes: Having followed the Bills since the early 1960's I would argue that T.O. is by far the best wideout to ever wear a Bills uniform. This would include any generation, Dubinion, Chandler, Lewis, Butler, Reed (A and J), Moulds, Price, etc.

Clint in Buffalo writes: Tim, I am responding to your call for reaction on the TO signing from diehard Bills fans. I consider myself one so I thought I would pass along my thoughts, My initial reaction was,"Are they (the Bills) crazy?" I mean TO is past his prime, has a giant ego problems, and a distraction and even a dissenter in the locker room. But then I saw the marketing genius of it. It is a move they may or may not help the Bills win on Sunday ( I can only hope it does ) but it will sell tickets and guarantee the Bills will be one of the most talked about teams during this off season. Pure and simple this signing is a marketing ploy and one that I've lived through before.

Steve in Buffalo writes: I'm sure there are alot of mixed feelings on the T.O. signing in Buffalo. I for one want to give the Bills some credit on this one. The Bills FO finally velcro'd on a set and took a risk!!! This might work out well and it might not but the good thing is that it's only a 1 yr deal. The first year is usually when teams get the good T.O. I also believe that the Bills may now have a chance to attract other FA possibilities that might not have otherwise looked at the Bills now that they can see we are willing to take risks to make the team better and get over this loooong playoff drought.

Mr. Anonymous from Baltimore, Md., writes: From a diehard Bills fan via twobillsdrive.com: Most of us Bills fans have laughed at the problems T.O. has had in other places, but now that he is a Bill, I'm half startled and half excited. The odds were long that he'd sign, and even longer that he'll stay after a year, but Dick Jauron has no excuses anymore. The Bills have the tools to get to the playoffs with T.O., so I think Jauron's results will be the bigger story come November and December.

Jonathan in Rochester, N.Y., writes: The signing of Owens is something I really didn't want to see Buffalo ever do. His me first attitude has left many teams in shambles. However, the one year contract is genius. It's his last chance to show the world he can play nice and get another contract after this year. Going out appreciated by the media would only help his HOF chances.

Kenny in Brooklyn writes: Um, this signing is nothing short of awesome. I cannot understand how adding one of the best WRs in the game ever that can still play at a high level is a bad move. Lee Evans can now play without two guys in his face at all times. This opens up the offense. I think Bills fans really, truly only care about winning. As long as the guy isn't hurting anyone else who cares if he's selfish. This was the thinking behind drafting James Hardy that hasn't panned out yet. But I love giving Hardy (who clearly needs it) more time to recover and develop. I'm not going to say superbowl but I want to. Even if TO calls out the entire organization by week 5 I still love the move. And let's face it, if he called out the organization he'd probably be right on since they've really put out a weak product for years.

Bill in Livonia, N.Y., writes: It's good news for Bills fans. As far as any controversy is concerned, we all need to learn to live with it. It will make sports news more fun.

Dan from Parts Unknown writes: honestly, I'm a little shocked by the Bills signing T.O. It's seems like the Bills might be a little desperate. But, I think considering it's a one year deal, it could work out well for the Bills. Seems to me he fills the Bills offensive needs perfectly.

Josh in North Tonawanda, N.Y., writes: I hope the T.O. signing is the start of a new way of thinking of the Bills front office. Bringing in premier players like Owens will greatly help Buffalo's marketability. Hopefully this signing will result in more interest from football fans in Toronto and maybe get us some more nationally televised games. Lord knows we could use the revenue. Killing this playoff drought would be nice too.

Mike in Brooklyn writes: i'm tired of hearing about how this is going to ruin the team's locker room chemistry. we haven't made the playoffs in 10 years! what do we have to lose? the best teams we ever had were the bickering bills of the levy era. i'll take some passion over the lifeless teams we've been throwing out there under jauron.

Lori in Port Allegany, Pa., writes: Here goes: I'm not a T.O. fan, let's make that clear right off the top. I've always preferred the guys who quietly went about their business (Marvin Harrison comes to mind), not the prima-donna 'tude copped by so many elite wideouts. That said ... The one-year deal is good for both sides. Owens will be motivated to kick some butt this year and try to snag one more good contract, and if some blowup does happen and the Bills decide to dump him, they don't have to worry about eating a big cap hit. How much does he have left? Not sure, to be honest. But he WILL show up for training camp at St. John Fisher in shape, and as regards pure physical talent, he's light-years ahead of anyone else the Bills were going to line up across from Lee Evans. That includes Coles, Galloway, or anyone else they looked at in FA. My concern remains the mental side of it, especially with a young quarterback and a coach on the hot seat. This signing could be a stroke of genius ... or a disaster of Hindenburg proportions, if he starts brewing up a storm in the locker room. And right now, I have no clue which way it'll go.

George in Buffalo writes: We have missed the playoffs for nine long years. No matter what shenanigans TO pulls, it can't get any worse than it already is. If we continue to lose, at least it'll be interesting. Get your popcorn ready!

Mr. Anonymous in Buffalo writes: Bottomline is T.O is a playmaker and people here in Buffalo are going to love that. They are also going to mortified the first time he throws one of his hissy fits on the sidelines. Young team with a young quarterback and you bring in who? Oh my...

Rob in Salt Lake City writes: Last season I had had enough with Dick Jauron after the teams collapse. I had all but given up on the Bills and was not planning on making my yearly pilgrimage to Buffalo for
a game. This signing has me super excited about the team again and there is no way I'm going to miss out on getting to a Bills game this season.

(Read full post)

Can young QB Edwards handle Owens' antics?

March, 8, 2009
3/08/09
1:01
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards is in that NFL "tweener" stage. He has played two seasons. He's not a rookie, but the term "veteran" doesn't seem to apply quite yet.

QB Comparison Last 3 Seasons
It was clear T.O. wasn't happy with Tony Romo last season, but Owens should be careful what he wishes for:

Romo Bills QBs
TD-Int 81-46 45-43
Passer rating 94.7 79.9
30-yd completions 62 38
-- Compiled by ESPN Stats & Information

Edwards has played in 24 games and started 23. He has experienced a fair share in his short time in the league, but he hasn't been exposed to anything like Terrell Owens, who signed a one-year deal with the Bills on Saturday.

The most turbulence Edwards has endured stemmed from his competition with J.P. Losman.

He never has had his sexual preference publicly questioned or his competitive drive ridiculed. He hasn't had a receiver shriek at him on the sidelines in full view of the cameras and fans. He never has been accused of a conspiracy to not distribute the ball to a specific receiver.

Good luck, Trent.

Because Edwards is young and still developing into a game-worn starter, I figured it would be appropriate to review the ages of the quarterbacks who have been exposed to -- and quickly grew tired of -- Owens' act in the past.

Here are the ages of Owens' quarterbacks on the date they started their first game together:

Owens' past three quarterbacks have been glad to see him leave, and each of them was older and wiser than Edwards.

Their relationship will be pivotal to how well the Owens move plays out in Buffalo. But based on the receiver's me-first track record, Edwards will be the one doing all the work to make sure everybody stays happy.

Owens, Evans a double threat for Bills

March, 8, 2009
3/08/09
8:30
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Stretching the Field From
Both Sides (2006-08)

Terrell Owens
Owens
Lee Evans
Evans
Other
Bills WRs
30-yard rec 26 22 8
30-yard TD 15 10 3
-- Compiled by ESPN Stats & Information

Terrell Owens and Lee Evans will give the Bills their most dangerous one-two receiving threat since Andre Reed and James Lofton played together in the early 1990s.

Their roles are reversed -- Lofton arrived late in his career as the deep threat to supplement the young Reed -- but the trouble Owens and Evans can cause for opposing defenses could be similar.

Owens and Evans have been two of the NFL's three best receivers when it comes to touchdowns of 30 yards or longer. Owens leads the way with 15, while Evans is tied with three others for third with 10.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to have a threat on the other side," Owens said Saturday night at his introductory news conference in Orchard Park, N.Y. "I'm sure he'll be excited as well.

Most 30-yard TD Catches
(Last 3 Seasons)
The addition of Terrell Owens puts two of the NFL's deep threats together on one team:
Player TD
Terrell Owens 15
Bernard Berrian 12
Lee Evans 10
Randy Moss 10
Greg Jennings 10
Steve Smith 10
-- Compiled by ESPN Stats & Information

"That's what we tried to do in Dallas in bringing Roy [Williams] there. For whatever reason, he came midway during the season, but that didn't work out. That doesn't bother me. I feel like my play kind of speaks for itself.

"If the opportunity kind of presents itself, I make those plays, we make things happen, and as I know, and as everyone knows, Lee's been doing that since he's been here. I think we'll complement each other very, very well."

Evans is considered by many to be among the league's best receivers. The Bills certainly thought he was elite enough to give him a four-year extension worth $37.25 million.

But Evans' stats don't reflect marquee status. He has been easy to contain without another formidable target on the field.

He has eclipsed 1,000 yards only twice in his five seasons. He scored nine touchdowns as a rookie and seven as a sophomore during Eric Moulds' last two seasons with Buffalo. But Evans has scored a combined five touchdowns his past two seasons.

Owens deal gets nation talking about Bills

March, 7, 2009
3/07/09
11:29
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The usually overlooked Buffalo Bills made national headlines Saturday, when they unexpectedly signed future Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens to a one-year, $6.5 million contract.

Here's a sampling of the reactions:

  • Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan asks, "What do [the Bills] have to lose? Tranquility and calm in the locker room, among a bunch of nice guys who haven't won a damn thing?"
  • NFL.com senior columnist Vic Carucci starts out by sharing, "Most of me believes emphatically that this is a horrible idea," but thinks it could work.
  • CBSSports.com columnist Clark Judge says Owens and the Bills "are the ideal fit: Owens is as bad for the Bills as the Bills are for Owens."
  • Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com says the Bills are "the wise ones" to take a discounted chance on a future Hall of Famer.
  • Yahoo! Sports columnist Jason Cole thinks this "scenario provides a way in which Owens can be successful."
  • Sporting News columnist Clifton Brown feels for quarterback Trent Edwards: "Dealing with Owens' personality will be a major challenge for a 25-year-old who has 23 NFL starts."
  • Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News writes Owens is "a good fit for what the team needs most."
  • Pro Football Weekly's Matt Sohn writes "everything about this signing reeks of desperation."
  • Andrew Das on the New York Times' blog "The Fifth Down" writes "if the Bills would just stop quitting in the middle of the season, they would have a chance to make a playoff run."

T.O. gives Bills desperately needed target

March, 7, 2009
3/07/09
8:36
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Initial scrutiny of Terrell Owens will deal with the turmoil he created wherever he has been.

Pundits already are wagging their fingers at the Buffalo Bills for signing an aging, divisive figure.

But when it comes to the moribund Bills, let's face it: This might be a risk worth taking.

Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson is among the group who doesn't think the Bills made a wise move by taking on such a volatile player, but he admitted the move should improve the offense of a team that went 0-6 against the AFC East.

"They certainly needed a pass catcher, preferably a big one like Terrell Owens," Williamson said.

Fewest TD Rec. by WR Last 2 Seasons
Aside from Lee Evans, the Bills have struggled to get production out of their wide receivers. T.O.'s arrival should help a Buffalo team that has the second-fewest touchdowns coming from its wideouts over the last two seasons:
Team TDs
Dolphins 12
Bills 15
Titans 15
Redskins 18
Ravens 18
-- Owens: 25 TD in last 2 seasons
-- Compiled by ESPN Stats & Information

"Even though Terrell Owens is slipping, he can still go get it. That guy's a touchdown machine. He can beat you at all levels, but more than anything is he can go into tight corners. He's physical and his ball skills are great."

Owens last year caught 69 passes for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys.

The Bills have one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers in the speedy Lee Evans, yet they ranked 22nd in passing offense last year at 190 yards a game. Only five teams threw fewer than their 14 touchdowns.

The Bills have thrown 26 touchdown passes over the past two years, the NFL's second-fewest in that span. Owens grabbed 25 touchdown receptions himself.

"Their red-zone passing game is very ordinary," Williamson said. "They've gotten very little out of the tight end position for years.

"Lee Evans is a real good player, but he's easy to take away when there's nothing else there. He's more or less a vertical threat and isn't a great end-zone player. He isn't a great, physical, bang-into-you, get-the-jump-balls receiver. When the field shrinks, so does Evans' potency."

The threat of Owens will help everybody, but especially Evans. While Owens, who turned 35 in December, doesn't get off the line cleanly anymore and will need pre-snap motion to free him up, teams will have trouble defending the whole field.

"Evans should be thrilled about this," Williamson said. "He's been such a focal point. Finally, there's something else to game plan against.

"Evans is the vertical guy. Owens is going to catch a lot of quick slants. He's fearless over the middle."

  Owens introduced
  NFL.com Video
  Bills WR Terrell Owens meets the media for the first time after being introduced in Buffalo.

Even so, Williamson isn't overly impressed by Buffalo's decision. He's not sold on Trent Edwards as a deep passer and sees too many holes on a line that wasn't all that swift last year and now is without starting left guard Derrick Dockery.

"It's a desperate team and a desperate player," Williamson said. "I'm sure Buffalo would have liked to go in a different direction, but there's not a lot of receivers out there. I'll bet Terrell Owens would have loved to go in a different direction, but Buffalo probably was the only suitor for him.

"With Terrell Owens' attitude, that could be a huge can of worms. If he's up there just because he feels that's his only option, and they start off the season 1-3, you can read the headlines now. It's not going to be pretty."

Video: Bills introduce Owens to Buffalo

March, 7, 2009
3/07/09
8:27
PM ET

Video: Bills' Whitner on Owens

March, 7, 2009
3/07/09
8:06
PM ET

Buffalo Bills safety Donte Whitner discusses how Terrell Owens will impact the franchise this season.

Bills shake up their offense with Terrell Owens

March, 7, 2009
3/07/09
6:22
PM ET
 
  Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
  Terrell Owens agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Buffalo Bills, according to sources.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills have gone 7-9 three straight years under Dick Jauron, who was retained because owner Ralph Wilson claimed the club would be "better served by continuity in the coaching staff rather than a disruptive overhaul."

Even though the Bills haven't gone to the playoffs in nine seasons, their front office essentially stayed the same. Wilson opted to continue without a traditional general manager. The pro personnel director and top college scout remained in place.

The only way the Bills could expect results to change would be if the same administrators -- after years of doing business the same way -- adopted a totally different approach and made the sort of bold move nobody expected.

  Owens introduced
  NFL.com Video
  Bills WR Terrell Owens meets the media for the first time after being introduced in Buffalo.

Bringing aboard Terrell Owens certainly would qualify.

The Bills on Saturday signed Owens for one year at $6.5 million guaranteed.

The price tag is amazingly cheap compared to other contracts being made with wide receivers. The Bills had pursued Laveranues Coles, but he signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Owens is the last guy people would expect the Bills to sign, precisely the sort of player they wouldn't have courted in years past.

The Bills have an aversion to prima donnas, and although they have made some head-scratching decisions in free agency -- making guard Derrick Dockery the highest-paid player in team history, for example -- they are not prone to impulse buys on big-ticket merchandise.

Plus, the Bills already have one of the most expensive receivers in the NFL.

Lee Evans has been the clear-cut No. 1 target in Buffalo's offense and one of the faces of the franchise for years. Last year, the Bills signed him to an in-season extension for four years and $37.25 million.

Who will be Buffalo's No. 1 receiver now?

Owens has a history of being divisive in the locker room. While the Bills have failed to reach the postseason since Wade Phillips was their coach, they prided themselves on their chemistry. The team is loaded with character individuals.

It will be interesting to see whether Owens becomes a distraction, especially if he doesn't get enough passes thrown his way. Offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and quarterback Trent Edwards will be responsible for keeping Owens satisfied.

But the Bills must be applauded for trying something different. They badly needed another offensive weapon and more help to overcome the likely suspension of running back Marshawn Lynch.

Status quo wasn't going to cut it.

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