Buffalo Bills: Alex Carrington

Circling back on unsigned Bills

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
The Buffalo Bills had the NFL's fewest unrestricted free agents.

A week into the signing period, half of those players are off the market. Safety Jairus Byrd signed with the New Orleans Saints, while tight end Scott Chandler and kicker Dan Carpenter both re-upped with the Bills.

What about the Bills' three remaining free agents? Here's an update:

DL Alex Carrington: Carrington has logged some frequent-flier miles since the negotiating period opened. Carrington made a visit last week with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the NFL Network reported he was en route Sunday to meet with the Oakland Raiders. Carrington will then visit the St. Louis Rams, per the report. The interest in Carrington could stem from his versatility; he has potential as both a 3-4 defensive end and 4-3 interior pass-rusher. Look for Carrington to sign with a team soon; it's unlikely he'll return to Buffalo.

LB Arthur Moats: The Cleveland Browns are the only team that has been connected to Moats thus far. It's a fit that would make sense -- former Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is likely seeking players with knowledge of his system. Moats recently switched agents, hiring high-profile negotiator Drew Rosenhaus. To this point, Moats is still on the open market. He started 12 games last season and is likely seeking a deal that pays him as a starter. Whether teams view him a full-time starter is another story. Like Carrington, the odds are against him returning to the Bills.

S Jim Leonhard: Leonhard hasn't drawn any reported interest to this point. At 31, he's said next season will be his final in the NFL. Leonhard is undersized and isn't likely to earn a starting job at this point in his career. Still, he brings a heady, veteran presence to a secondary, which could eventually earn him a contract. It's too early to rule out a return to the Bills, but this looks to be a situation where teams will wait until later this spring or this summer to add Leonhard.
Jairus Byrd might not be the only Buffalo Bills free agent to depart this offseason.

Defensive lineman Alex Carrington is set to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, reports Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Rapoport previously reported that Carrington had drawn interest from the Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams.

Carrington started the first three games last season before suffering a season-ending quad injury. His best fit could come as a 3-4 defensive end -- making him in a fit in Pittsburgh -- although he also has value as an interior pass-rusher in a 4-3 scheme.

Bills general manager Doug Whaley said Tuesday that the Bills offered a contract to Carrington.
With the free-agent signing period set to open Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley said talks are "status quo" with safety Jairus Byrd.

"Lines of communication are open," Whaley told WGR 550 on Tuesday afternoon. "We still have until 4 where we're the exclusive negotiating people. But we'll see how that goes. The clock's ticking."

Byrd is seeking a deal worth at least $9 million per season, according to ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter James Walker. The three-time Pro Bowl safety has been linked to talks with the St. Louis Rams and Dolphins, among other teams, during the open negotiating period that began Saturday.

Meanwhile, Whaley said the Bills have been aggressive in trying to retain two of their other free agents: tight end Scott Chandler and kicker Dan Carpenter.

"They have some offers on the table," Whaley said. "We're just waiting to hear back from them."

Yahoo! Sports' Rand Getlin reported Tuesday that Carpenter was flying from South Florida to Buffalo.

Whaley also said the Bills have extended contract offers to defensive lineman Alex Carrington and linebacker Arthur Moats.

"We're waiting to hear back from those guys," he said. "Hopefully we hear back before 4 p.m."

Pricing the market: Alex Carrington

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
With the free-agent signing period approaching, we'll take a closer look at each of the Buffalo Bills' free agents, finding the closest matches in last offseason's free-agent class:

Pending Bills free agent: Alex Carrington
Position: Defensive lineman
Experience: 4 seasons
2013 stats: 3 games played (3 starts), 10 tackles
2013 snaps: 14.3 percent (defense), 3.1 percent (special teams)

Last offseason's closest match: Jarius Wynn
Experience: 4 seasons (entering 2013)
2012 stats: 7 games (0 starts), 6 tackles, two sacks, one pass defensed (for Tennessee)
2012 snaps: 11 percent (defense), 2.5 percent (special teams)
Signed with: San Diego Chargers
Contract: 1 year, $30,000 signing bonus, $745,000 base salary
Overview: Wynn was a sixth-round pick of the Packers in 2009, playing sparingly his first two seasons. His best season came in 2011, when he recorded 19 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble in 16 games (including four starts). Still, he wasn't able to crack the Packers' 53-man roster the next season and was a late-season pickup by the Titans. He turned that opportunity into a free-agent deal last spring with the Chargers but was cut after five games.

Last offseason's second-closest match: Alan Branch
Experience: 6 seasons (entering 2013)
2012 stats: 16 games (16 starts), 29 tackles, one sack, one pass defensed (for Seattle)
2012 snaps: 55.9 percent (defense), 12.6 percent (special teams)
Signed with: Buffalo Bills
Contract: 1 year, $3 million
Overview: Branch, a former second-round pick, never settled into a permanent role with the Arizona Cardinals. His best two seasons came in Seattle, earning him a one-year, "prove-it" type deal from the Bills last spring. When an injury ended Carrington's season, Branch slid into his spot and started the final 13 games of the season. That earned the 325-pounder a three-year extension in December.

Verdict: Carrington's injury last September throws a wrench into his valuation on the market this spring. The Bills could argue that Carrington deserves a deal like Wynn's -- small money for a player who has yet to prove himself in the NFL. Wynn's best season (in 2011) and Carrington's best season (in 2012) are close parallels. Carrington had 19 tackles and two sacks; Wynn had 19 tackles and three sacks. Wynn is slightly smaller but the belief is that both players are best suited as defensive ends in a 3-4 defense. Meanwhile, Carrington's side will argue that he was off to a great start last season and that the injury prevented him from fulfilling his potential in the Bills' defense. Had he played a full season, Carrington may have put up numbers similar to Branch in 2012. It's unclear how Carrington will fit into Jim Schwartz's defensive scheme, so it's hard to pin down how the Bills might value him. However, the most likely scenario is that a team projects Carrington as a potential starter within their defense and offers him a deal somewhere in between Branch's and Wynn's.
We recently chatted with ESPN NFL Insider Matt Williamson, a former scout for the Cleveland Browns, about a variety of Buffalo Bills topics.

Next, we'll take a closer look at the Bills defense under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz:

Overall thoughts on scheme: "By judging what the Detroit Lions have done over the years, they're not going to blitz much. They'll do some but their linebackers aren't considered great pass-rushers. They don't have a lot invested at their linebacker positions in Detroit. They want studs up front [on the defensive line]. By that standard, I think Buffalo fits that."

Thoughts on defensive line: "I'm a real, big Kyle Williams fan. [Marcell] Dareus is a bit of an enigma to me, because I think he's a good player, but I don't know exactly what he is. And that doesn't necessarily matter. He's kind of a big, fat guy but he's not Vince Wilfork. He's not Warren Sapp. He's not a 3-4 [defensive] end. So I don't know exactly what he is. But I think he's best in a 4-3 and can be disruptive and is a quality player against the run and pass, he's just probably never lived up to the draft position he was taken [third overall in 2011]."

Defensive end fits in Schwartz's scheme: "It was Kyle Vanden Bosch for a lot of years. They went out and signed Jason Jones this year to play end, who is a 290-pound guy. Generally, in the Wide-9, they're going to look for speed off the edge. I think Mario Williams is a good player, but I'm not sure that's his game. I like how Jerry Hughes played for the Bills this year and I think he's a keeper, but I don't think he can handle every snap as a 4-3 end. They might need another [defensive] end. A 260-pound guy that runs a 4.6 [40-yard dash]."

On possible diminished role for Alan Branch: "Agreed. Short yardage, I guess he's a defensive end. On passing downs, maybe he's a defensive tackle. He's certainly not an end. I don't think he's a great Wide-9 fit. He's not Ndamukong Suh. That's for sure. I think he's more of a 3-4 end. 'Let's be stout at the point of attack, eat up as much space as possible, don't lose in the run game.'"

On Alex Carrington's role: "Yeah, maybe. Maybe he's a third or fourth [defensive] end for you. He's obviously a bigger body than Hughes. So he could do some different things there. But I still think they're an end short, especially because [Mario] Williams isn't young. You could draft an end reasonably high, an upside guy."

On needs at linebacker: "At outside linebacker. But those guys are kind of like [offensive] guards to me. You can almost find them anywhere. The Lions did that too. They had very little resources in their outside linebackers. [DeAndre] Levy was a [third-round] pick. They had a revolving door at the other spot."

On Manny Lawson: "I don't think he fits the scheme. I think he's best as a 3-4 outside linebacker and I think he's not nearly productive enough to count on. It wouldn't shock me at all if he's a cap casualty."

On Nigel Bradham: "I think he fits this new scheme better than the old scheme. I think he can run and hit well enough to be maybe an OK 4-3 outside linebacker. ... I don't think [Sam and Will] are all the distinguishable in Detroit's system. It think they're more left and right [outside linebackers], run and hit guys. I don't remember them having any 6-3, 245-pound 'Sam' guys. It's more that they're outside linebackers are interchangeable than the old school Bucs, Tampa-2."
Back in September, we broke down the Buffalo Bills' 53-man roster, position-by-position. Now that the Bills' season has ended, we'll review those grades:

Position: Defensive line (preseason grades)

Mario Williams -- 87.4 percent
Kyle Williams -- 82.2 percent
Marcell Dareus -- 72.0 percent
Jerry Hughes -- 52.7 percent
Alan Branch -- 52.1 percent
Corbin Bryant -- 28.8 percent
Alex Carrington -- 14.3 percent
Stefan Charles -- 7.1 percent
Jay Ross -- 4.2 percent


Preseason take: The addition of Branch this offseason was significant. He started 16 games for a top-ranked Seahawks defense last season and stepped right in on Sunday, playing 33 snaps against the Patriots. Ross and Bryant are more developmental pieces who have spent much of their careers on practice squads. In today's NFL, though, depth along the defensive line has become less important as linebackers and defensive backs are used more and more. Grade: B+

Postseason review: This grade was right on the mark. When Carrington went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 3, it was Branch who stepped in and filled the void. The seventh-year veteran started the final 13 games of the season and was rewarded with a three-year contract extension in December. He and Hughes may have been the Bills' best acquisitions last offseason. Other than Carrington, the Bills' defensive line stayed very healthy, which prevented Bryant and Charles from being thrust into larger roles.


Preseason take: There are a few question marks here. Mario Williams has dealt with injuries since arriving in Buffalo, missing time last season because of wrist surgery and sitting out most of training camp this season due to plantar fasciitis. Kyle Williams played in only five games in 2011 due to a foot injury and had offseason Achilles surgery this year. Dareus, the third overall pick in 2011, still needs to show he can be a consistent threat for offenses. Grade: B

Postseason review: This grade should have been higher. The Bills managed Kyle Williams' health well, sitting him out for most Wednesday practices. He did not miss a game. Same for Mario Williams, who shook off an early-season ankle injury to play in his second consecutive 16-game season. Dareus also brushed off preseason questions and became a consistent force, setting a career high with 7.5 sacks. His late-season tardiness for meetings might be the only blemish against this unit.

Bills re-sign DL Jay Ross

September, 24, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills on Tuesday re-signed defensive lineman Jay Ross.

Ross, who spent the entire preseason with the Bills, fills the roster spot that opened when defensive lineman Alex Carrington (torn quad) was placed on injured reserve Monday.

In Carrington's place, Corbin Bryant and Alan Branch are expected to see increased playing time. Ross steps in as another reserve option.

The Bills also swapped defensive linemen on the practice squad. They released undrafted rookie Izaan Cross and signed Adewale Ojomo, a Miami product who played in one game last season for the New York Giants.

Bills return to Buffalo battered, bruised

September, 23, 2013
It was one of those road trips to forget. Not only did the Buffalo Bills drop to 1-2 after losing 27-20 to the New York Jets on Sunday, but they also suffered injuries to several key players.

Here's a run-down of all of their injuries at the moment:

Running back C.J. Spiller (knee) -- After rushing 10 times for 9 yards, Spiller sat on the bench most of the third quarter before the Bills eventually announced he had a knee injury. He later departed for the locker room and did not return.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (fractured right hand) -- Speedy rookie went down in the opener and is expected to miss "some time," according to head coach Doug Marrone. The third-round pick still had a cast on his left hand as of last week, but was spotted during practice doing conditioning work.

Guard Kraig Urbik (left knee) -- Starting right guard briefly left the game on Sunday, but later returned to action. He was seen in the locker room after the game with a large wrap on his left knee.

Guard/center Doug Legursky (left knee) -- Top interior reserve was carted off the field in the preseason finale, but returned to practice on a limited basis last week. Worth monitoring if he takes the next step in his return this week by participating in team drills in practice.

Defensive end Mario Williams (unknown) -- Leading pass-rusher had a quiet game against Jets (two tackles, no sacks) and remained on the sidelines late in the game. Marrone did not have an update on Williams after the game and a team spokesperson would only say that he was undergoing treatment. The Buffalo News reported that he was limping badly after getting X-rays post-game.

Defensive lineman Marcell Dareus (ankle) -- Former third overall pick left Sunday's game and does not return. No word on his status.

Defensive lineman Alex Carrington (left knee) -- Another starter on the defensive line, Carrington is carted off late in the fourth quarter. He was later spotted in the locker room with a heavy limp before trainers fit him with an immobilizing brace on his left knee.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (fractured wrist) -- Top cornerback fractured his left wrist in the third preseason game and remains out of practice. As of last week, he still had several pins visibly extending out of the joint.

Cornerback Leodis McKelvin (right hamstring) -- Starting cornerback went to his knees after a play in first quarter of Sunday's loss, but stayed on the field. A few plays later, McKelvin went down again and did not return. His immediate status is unclear.

Cornerback Ron Brooks (fractured foot) -- For the second straight season, Brooks suffered a fractured foot and will remain out for "some time," Marrone said.

Safety Jairus Byrd (sore feet) -- Pro Bowl safety has sat out the first three games, dealing with plantar fasciitis, a foot condition that has affected both of his feet. Byrd was listed as questionable for Sunday's game after being listed as doubtful for the first two contests.

Kicker Dustin Hopkins (right groin strain) -- Rookie kicker remains out after tweaking his hamstring prior to the season opener. He has yet to practice and the Bills are carrying an extra kicker, veteran Dan Carpenter, until Hopkins returns to health.

Locker Room Buzz: Buffalo Bills

September, 22, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed in the locker room after the Buffalo Bills' 27-20 loss to the New York Jets:

Mario Williams' status unclear: Williams played sparingly in the late stages of the game, prompting speculation that he could be injured. Head coach Doug Marrone told reporters that he saw trainers working on Williams but had yet to speak to the medical staff, adding that coaches were discussing using Jamaal Westerman in that role late in the game. About an hour after the game, with every locker empty except for Williams', a team spokesperson said Williams was undergoing treatment and would not have time for comment.

Carrington in leg brace: Defensive lineman Alex Carrington, who was carted off the field late in the fourth quarter, limped around the locker room after the game. He was initially wearing a bandage wrap over his left knee and was later spotted wearing an immobilizing brace over that knee. A trainer assisted him dressing. Offensive lineman Kraig Urbik, who briefly left the game, also had a wrap on his left knee but was moving well.

No sign of Spiller: Running back C.J. Spiller, who left in the third quarter with a knee injury, was not spotted in the locker room after the game. His locker was empty by the time reporters entered.

Making sense of Pettine's personnel

September, 10, 2013
With 19 different players getting snaps on defense for the Buffalo Bills in Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots, it's easy to lose track of all of the moving parts.

The Bills switched up their defensive personnel on a drive-to-drive basis, which will be par for the course under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine this season.

After taking a second look at the game, we'll try to sort things out:
  1. Pettine has historically leaned on defensive backs more than linebackers in his scheme. So while the Patriots only used four-receiver sets for five plays in the game, according to Patriots reporter Mike Reiss' tracking, Pettine gave Tom Brady and the Patriots a heavy dose of six- and seven-defensive back packages.
  2. Undrafted rookie Nickell Robey was the fifth defensive back on the field and held his own in the slot. The Bills had Ron Brooks in this spot for almost the entire preseason, so while it was a risky move for the Bills to swap him out for a rookie, it paid dividends.
  3. When the Bills went to six defensive backs (their "dime" package), they gave one of two looks: (1) safety Da'Norris Searcy would slide down into the box, helping to pick up receivers across the middle of the field, with Jim Leonhard taking his place in the back end, or (2) cornerback Ron Brooks would come in as an extra cornerback, with more edge responsibilities, with Searcy remaining in a deep zone.
  4. When the Bills went to seven defensive backs, Leonhard slid down into the box, with Searcy remaining deep. It was the opposite look from the dime package.
  5. The front seven in the base defense had one surprise: at linebacker, Arthur Moats stepped in place of Nigel Bradham for stretches, although there were some plays when Bradham was part of the base look.
  6. Bradham and rookie Kiko Alonso began the game as the two linebackers in the nickel package, but in the second quarter, Manny Lawson took over the duties for Bradham.
  7. The defensive front four -- Alex Carrington, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, and Mario Williams -- was the same in both the base and nickel packages. In the dime, Jerry Hughes replaced Carrington to provide more pass rush. When the Bills went to seven defensive backs, it was Williams, Williams, and Hughes along the front.
  8. Defensive lineman Alan Branch played 33 snaps, rotating in at all spots on the defensive line. It was impressive versatility by the 325-pound Branch, who was required to play several different techniques/gap assignments.

Looking forward, the Bills will be without Brooks for "some time," head coach Doug Marrone said, after Brooks fractured his foot in Sunday's game. The best bet is the Bills will stick to their two dime looks, with waiver-pickup Brandon Burton sliding in for Brooks when Leonhard isn't on the field.

Grading the Bills' 53: Defensive line

September, 10, 2013
Now that the Buffalo Bills have set their 53-man roster, we'll break it down, position by position:


Personnel: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Alex Carrington, Alan Branch, Jay Ross, Corbin Bryant (Practice squad: Izaan Cross)

Talent: A+. Hard to top this group. The Detroit Lions (with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Jason Jones, and Ziggy Ansah) come close, but the combination of Williams, Williams and Dareus is the best in the NFL. When healthy and clicking, Mario Williams is a premier pass-rusher with excellent athleticism for his size (6-foot-6, 292 pounds). Dareus (331 pounds), Kyle Williams (301 pounds) and Branch (325 pounds) are stout across the middle. At 6-foot-5, Carrington has ideal length for the position, which has also shown up on special teams (three blocked field goals last season).

Depth: B+. The addition of Branch this offseason was significant. He started 16 games for a top-ranked Seahawks defense last season and stepped right in on Sunday, playing 33 snaps against the Patriots. Ross and Bryant are more developmental pieces who have spent much of their careers on practice squads. In today's NFL, though, depth along the defensive line has become less important as linebackers and defensive backs are used more and more.

Reliability: B. There are a few question marks here. Mario Williams has dealt with injuries since arriving in Buffalo, missing time last season because of wrist surgery and sitting out most of training camp this season due to plantar fasciitis. Kyle Williams played in only five games in 2011 due to a foot injury and had offseason Achilles surgery this year. Dareus, the third overall pick in 2011, still needs to show he can be a consistent threat for offenses.

Dustin Hopkins in uniform at practice

September, 4, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills kickers Dustin Hopkins and Dan Carpenter were both in uniform for Wednesday's practice, although it was unclear if Hopkins was participating in the session.

Hopkins suffered a groin injury in Monday's practice, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, causing the Bills to sign the veteran Carpenter on Tuesday.

Both kickers, along with punter Shawn Powell and long-snapper Garrison Sanborn, emerged on the outdoor practice field toward the end of the media portion of the session. The specialists were likely practicing inside Ralph Wilson Stadium, so it is not immediately known if Hopkins was healthy enough to kick on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, defensive end Alex Carrington and right tackle Erik Pears both returned to practice Wednesday. The pair of starters had missed Monday's session with ankle soreness.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (fractured wrist) and offensive lineman Doug Legursky (knee) were the only two players not spotted.

Eric Wood's extension adds four years

September, 3, 2013
First-year Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley made his team's most significant financial commitment to date on Friday, signing center Eric Wood to a four-year contract extension.

Per NFL Players Association records, the deal extends Wood's contract four seasons, with the following base salaries:

2014 -- $3.35 million
2015 -- $4.05 million
2016 -- $4.125 million
2017 -- $4.125 million

The Bills also made a sizable commitment to cornerback Leodis McKelvin in March, re-signing him through 2016 with a value of about $20 million, the Associated Press reported.

So which Bills players might be next in line for a new deal? Tight end Scott Chandler and defensive lineman Alex Carrington may be the top candidates. Both are set to become free agents next spring, and Carrington in particular has impressed the new coaching staff.

Here's a snapshot look at each player's contract length, sorted by the final year of their deal:

RB Tashard Choice
WR Chris Hogan
FB Frank Summers
TE Mike Caussin
TE Scott Chandler
OL Thomas Welch
OL Sam Young
DL Alan Branch
DL Alex Carrington
DL Jay Ross
OLB Jamaal Westerman
LB Arthur Moats
S Jairus Byrd

(Read full post)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills were without a pair of starters for Monday's practice, as defensive end Alex Carrington and offensive tackle Erik Pears both were out of action.

Head coach Doug Marrone said afterwards that both are dealing with ankle soreness.

"His ankle was sore today, and it’s good because tomorrow we’re off, so we just wanted to give him two days off. He shouldn’t be a problem," Marrone said of Pears.

Otherwise, the Bills were close to full health on Monday, with cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and offensive lineman Doug Legursky (knee) -- who both have longer-term injuries -- the only players not spotted.

The Bills will practice next on Wednesday.

EJ Manuel practices again on Monday

September, 2, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel was back on the practice field Monday, one day after returning from knee surgery.

Reporters had access to only stretching and light-intensity position drills. Head coach Doug Marrone said that Manuel would take part in the full practice on Monday, after sitting out team drills on Sunday.

Elsewhere, the Bills were without a pair of starters who were present for Sunday's practice. Defensive end Alex Carrington was spotted at the start of practice riding an exercise bike, while right tackle Erik Pears was also out of action.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and offensive lineman Doug Legursky (knee) also remain out.

Bills players will be off Tuesday before returning to practice Wednesday.