Buffalo Bills: jasper brinkley

Happy Monday. We've arrived at what is typically the busiest week of the NFL offseason.

Since Saturday, teams have been able to enter into talks with opposing teams' free agents. Starting Tuesday at 4 p.m., deals can become official.

Until then, let's recap what we've learned over the past few days:

1. The Bills will need to make a decision on several players who are due large roster bonuses this week. Quarterback Kevin Kolb ($1 million) and linebacker Manny Lawson ($500,000) are both due roster bonuses on Thursday. On Saturday, the Bills owe wide receiver Stevie Johnson a $1.75 million roster bonus. Last week, Bills general manager Doug Whaley addressed Kolb's situation with John Kryk of the Toronto Sun. "It's a tricky situation," Whaley told Kryk. "We're going to be very careful how we handle this, and the foremost consideration in the whole equation is him being healthy." It would be a surprise if Kolb remains with the team past this week. Lawson and Johnson are longer shots to be released but their situations still bear watching.

2. Last week, the Bills hosted linebackers Jameel McClain and Jasper Brinkley, who were both released by their former teams. Brinkley could be off the market soon, as Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo reported Sunday that the Minnesota Vikings will bring back Brinkley on a one-year deal. Meanwhile, McClain will still meet with the Vikings on Monday, reports 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson. We ranked linebacker as the Bills' top free-agent need and we wouldn't be surprised if the Bills made a play to sign one of the top free-agent linebackers available. Jon Beason and Karlos Dansby are among those who are hitting the open market this week.

3. ESPN.com Miami Dolphins reporter James Walker reported Monday that safety Jairus Byrd is seeking a deal that pays him at least $9 million per season. That would make Byrd the highest-paid safety in the NFL, at least in terms of average salary per season. The NFL Network reported over the weekend that the Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams have expressed interest in Byrd.

4. While Tuesday is the start of the free-agent signing period, it's also the first day that teams can complete trades. At this point, don't rule out activity on that end from the Bills.
The Bills are hosting linebacker Jasper Brinkley on a visit Thursday.

Brinkley, 28, was released by the Arizona Cardinals last month. In 15 games last season, he made three starts, tallying 27 tackles. He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings after being drafted in the fifth round out of South Carolina.

At 6-foot-1, 252 pounds, Brinkley is similar in size to Jameel McClain, whom the Bills hosted on a free-agent visit Wednesday. Both players project to middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme but also have experience as inside linebackers in a 3-4 scheme.

Both visits suggest that the Bills are taking a hard look at the free-agent market at linebacker, where their depth was thin last season. Arthur Moats is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, leaving Kiko Alonso and Nigel Bradham as the top options on the roster for middle and weakside linebacker.

Other news: The Bills took care of some free-agent housekeeping Thursday, re-signing cornerback Brandon Smith to an undisclosed deal. Smith was scheduled to become an exclusive-rights free agent. Meanwhile, the Bills tendered contracts to their other three exclusive-rights free agents: fullback Frank Summers, wide receiver Chris Hogan, and guard Antoine McClain. All three are expected to sign their tenders and join the Bills' offseason roster.

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