NFL Nation: Eugene Parker

ESPN's Chris Mortensen is the latest reporter to suggest that the agents for unsigned Detroit Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh are seeking more money than the player selected ahead of him in the 2010 draft, quarterback Sam Bradford.

The numbers Mortensen reported are staggering -- six years, $90 million with $56 million in guarantees -- but likely represent a negotiating tactic rather than a hard-line from agents Roosevelt Barnes and Eugene Parker. As we discussed Saturday, it's difficult to imagine the Lions paying Suh more than the quarterback premium Bradford received.

What probably has created some wiggle room for Suh's agents is the large gap between Bradford's total guarantees ($50 million) and that of the No. 3 overall pick Gerald McCoy ($35 million). Stay tuned. The Lions have two practices Sunday, at 9 a.m. at 3:15 p.m.
The Detroit Lions had multiple conversations Saturday with the agents for defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but they did not reach an agreement in time for Suh to participate in the Lions' opening practice of camp.

Suh was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, and the No. 1 (Sam Bradford) and No. 3 (Gerald McCoy) have reached contract agreements. So if negotiations don't conclude sometimes this weekend, we'll know that a bigger gap remains than simply waiting for the players on either side of Suh's slot to set the market.

Bradford received $50 million in guarantees, while McCoy got $35 million. That $15 million gap is pretty substantial, even considering the "quarterback premium" Bradford received, and it gives Suh's agents some wiggle room if they choose to haggle for the final dollar.

Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com reports that Suh is seeking more guaranteed money than Bradford, arguing he was bypassed as the No. 1 overall pick only because the St. Louis Rams didn't want to pay a defensive tackle so much money. If that's the case, we're going to be in for an extended holdout. I can't imagine a scenario where the Lions would agree to those terms.

Speaking to Detroit reporters Saturday, Lions president Tom Lewand seemed optimistic that a deal was within reach. He said he planned to have at least one more conversation with agents Roosevelt Barnes and Eugene Parker before the end of Saturday and added: "As long as we're talking, we're making progress and we continue to talk. We are very, very focused on trying to get a deal done."

Stay tuned.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys agree to terms

July, 22, 2010
7/22/10
7:34
PM ET
I definitely didn't think we'd be writing this today: The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to terms on a five-year contract with first-round pick Dez Bryant, according to ESPNDallas.com. The club announced the news late Thursday afternoon. Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com is reporting that Bryant will receive $8.3 million in guaranteed money, which is in line with what Vikings receiver Percy Harvin agreed to as the No. 22 pick overall last year.

In recent days, both the Cowboys and Bryant's agent, Eugene Parker, have been optimistic that they'd quickly agree to a contract. But a lot of us thought the fact the Cowboys were opening camp earlier than usual would hinder the negotiation. I'm sure Jerry and Stephen Jones' longtime friendship with Parker played a role in this thing happening so quickly.

"This was very important to me to be able to get this done in time for the first practice," Bryant said in a released statement. "I want to help this team. I want to compete. I can't wait to start playing football again."

There was some thought that Bryant would want top-10 money since he was widely regarded as the best receiver in the draft, but the $8.3 million is not in that neighborhood. Bryant has said he wanted to be in camp on time, and that's what happened. He had a reputation for showing up late to events at Oklahoma State and it plagued him during the buildup to the draft, but Thursday's news could help change the narrative.

His teammates and coaches will be excited to see the first-rounder show up for the first practice. I'll be there for Jerry Jones' and Wade Phillips' opening news conference in San Antonio on Friday, and something tells me they'll be even more excited than usual. If Bryant wants to win a starting job heading into the regular-season, he's off to a good start.

The Cowboys have a history of signing their first-round picks on the second or third day of camp. It's a big surprise the two sides agreed to terms while the majority of first and second-rounders around the league still haven't signed.

Honestly, the $8.3 million in guaranteed money is a little lower than I expected for Bryant. But if he's as good as the Cowboys think he is, this contract will get torn up two or three years down the road. I'll be back later this evening to let you know what Stephen Jones says about the agreement.

Update: Here's what Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones told reporters at Valley Ranch on Thursday evening: “You can make things difficult, but I think at the end of the day, the best thing that can happen to a rookie player is to get on the field right away. That certainly helps his long-term career, which ultimately helps his viability as he moves forward as far as future contracts are concerned. You get those contracts based on how you perform in your first one."

The Beast will provide reports from San Antonio beginning Friday afternoon and then we'll attend the Cowboys' first practice Saturday. Please stay close to your laptop or mobile device.

Will Dez Bryant hold out?

July, 20, 2010
7/20/10
10:07
AM ET
For the most part, signing first-round picks had become a pretty straightforward process -- unless Michael Crabtree was involved. Teams simply waited for the draft picks around them to get signed and then it was relatively easy to arrive at a dollar figure.

But because the Cowboys are playing in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 8, they're beginning training camp about four or five days earlier than usual. That means the club might not have any first-round contracts to work with while attempting to sign wide receiver Dez Bryant, the 24th overall pick.

Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com thinks the Cowboys might work off Percy Harvin's contract with the Vikings from last season. Harvin, the No. 22 overall pick, received $8.4 million guaranteed. But Watkins also indicates that Bryant is probably expecting top-10 money, which seems like a farce.

If the Cowboys wanted to pay Bryant top-10 money, perhaps they would've moved up the board and selected him in the top 10. Instead, they waited for him to fall into the 20s before moving up three spots. I'm not sensing that we have another Crabtree holdout on our hands, even though Eugene Parker represents both Crabtree and Bryant.

But it wouldn't surprise me all that much if Bryant missed the first four or five days of training camp in San Antonio. By that time, the Cowboys will have more contracts to work with. But if anyone in Bryant's camp truly thinks he's getting top-10 money, this could be a long, painful process.

The good news for Cowboys fans is that Jerry and Stephen Jones have an excellent relationship with Parker. But this is something that bears watching. Hopefully Bryant will at least show up for the Southern California portion of training camp.

The Big Question: Will Jerry go after Dez?

April, 20, 2010
4/20/10
1:00
PM ET
» NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Could a free-falling Dez Bryant be too much for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to resist?

[+] EnlargeDez Bryant
Paul Jasienski/US PresswireIf Dez Bryant is available later in the first round, the Cowboys could be one team to make a play for him.
In talking to scouts around the league and perusing dozens of mock drafts, it's pretty clear that Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant is the top wide receiver in this draft. But for a variety of reasons, a lot of folks have him falling into the 20s in Thursday's first round. Most scouts I've visited with agree that Bryant is essentially a "good kid."

It's annoying to hear folks talk about "character" issues and then not back it up with anything of substance. We all know about Bryant's harsh punishment for not being truthful with the NCAA about a meeting with Deion Sanders. But I don't think that's what is causing his stock to drop. He's represented by the same agent, Eugene Parker, as 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. And you'll recall that Crabtree didn't exactly have a smooth entry into the league. Crabtree's uncle, David Wells, was very involved in that process. Wells is now advising Bryant. After watching what happened with Crabtree last season, you can see why teams might be leery of Bryant early in the draft.

That said, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has met with Bryant and he's very familiar with both Parker and Wells. If Bryant slips into the 20s -- as many mock drafts are now suggesting -- Jones could make a play for him. Some draft gurus (Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News for one) even have Bryant slipping all the way to the Cowboys at No. 27. If that happens, I'm almost certain the Cowboys would select him. But also keep in mind that the Ravens are sitting at No. 25. Something tells me they'll want to see what the Cowboys are willing to give up for Bryant.

I think Bryant might be the most compelling player in the first round. Don't be surprised if the Cowboys take the story to the next level.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi knows about tampering. He has done it. He admits it.

Lombardi, appearing on Wednesday night's episode of Showtime's "Inside the NFL," shared his thoughts about tampering charges the San Francisco 49ers filed against the New York Jets over unsigned rookie receiver Michael Crabtree.

The 49ers have accused the Jets of interfering with their efforts to sign the No. 10 overall draft pick by communicating with his agent, Eugene Parker.

"We know the Jets are no strangers to tampering charges," said Lombardi, a former personnel chief with the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns. "They go back a long way with Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. They have seen this before."

Parker also represented former Jets running back Curtis Martin, who defected from the New England Patriots in 1998. Parker worked closely with Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum to draw up a contract the Patriots couldn't match. Tannenbaum was director of player contracts at the time. Parcells was head coach.

"There is lineage between the Jets and Parker," Lombardi said. "Now [the 49ers] have charged him.

"One thing we do know is the 49ers have been convicted, if you will, of tampering with Lance Briggs, the Chicago Bears linebacker, when he was a free agent [in 2008]. They were convicted of that charge and had to pay a penalty. So they understand what it takes to prove a tampering charge.

"Now, the league said in a memo in May of 2008 if you file a claim against a team and it turns out to be frivolous, you are at risk."

But Lombardi explained that tampering is more common than you might think and often goes unpunished.

"It’s very difficult to prove," he said. "Trust me, I’ve been a tamperer. I’ve been in the NFL for over 20 years, so I have tampered my fair share of times. It’s hard to prove.

"But I will say this: They have to have specific evidence. If they do, they can convict the Jets. If they don’t, they are in jeopardy."

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Questions, answers and observations as the 49ers prepare for their 2009 regular-season opener without first-round draft choice Michael Crabtree:
Crabtree
1. Is an agreement in sight? The evidence suggests not. Players tend to sign before missing regular-season game checks, but by now we would have seen more signs of movement. None is apparent. Crabtree's throwing session with Trent Dilfer took place three weeks ago, so I wouldn't read much into that. If Crabtree lets one game slip past without signing, we'll know he's as serious as he appears.

2. What is the holdup? It's impossible to know without trusting sources with a vested interest in how the arguments are framed. The cliché says the devil is in the details, and that is probably the case here. High-stakes negotiations for drafted rookies are about identifying which incentive terms will allow the player to maximize total value. What if Crabtree fears he could not hit those incentives in the 49ers' conservative offense? More on that in a bit.

3. Does Crabtree want to play for the 49ers? I'm starting to have doubts. The other first-round picks in this division had a hard time missing training camp practices, let alone exhibition games or the regular season. Beanie Wells traveled overnight to reach Cardinals camp without missing any more practices than necessary. Aaron Curry told reporters he had reached a breaking point after missing one week of camp. Crabtree? Not so much.

4. Why wouldn't Crabtree want to play for the 49ers? Perhaps he's been listening to Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye talking about how they want to run the ball 60 percent of the time, more than any NFL offense ran the ball last season. The way quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Alex Smith performed during the exhibition season probably didn't help. And if you look at Raye's history as a coordinator -- see the chart below -- he's clearly serious about running the football.

Season Offense Coordinated by Jimmy Raye Receptions Leader Receptions Yards
2000 Chiefs Derrick Alexander
78 1,391
2005 Raiders Jerry Porter
76 942
2004 Raiders Jerry Porter
64 998
1991 Rams Henry Ellard
64 1,052
2001 Redskins Michael Westbrook
57 664
1999 Chiefs Derrick Alexander
54 832
1998 Chiefs Derrick Alexander
54 992
1990 Patriots Irving Fryar
54 856
1985 Bucs Kevin House
44 803
1986 Bucs Gerald Carter
42 640
1983 Rams George Farmer
40 556
1984 Rams Henry Ellard
34 622
x x Averages 55 862

The reception leaders in Raye-coordinated offenses averaged 55 catches per season, with only two receivers reaching 65 receptions in 12 seasons. Those same 12 offenses produced 2,105- and 1,808-yard rushing seasons for Eric Dickerson, a 1,432-yard season for Stephen Davis, a 1,300-yard season for James Wilder and a 1,025-yard season for LaMont Jordan.

5. Will the 49ers cave? I do not think so. Crabtree was a value pick, not a need pick. The 49ers knew they wanted to be a power running team. They weren't going to build the offense around a rookie receiver who missed minicamps while rehabbing a foot injury. More broadly, the 49ers and the rest of the NFL have too much at stake to be perceived as altering the informal slotting system teams use to determine value for draft choices.

6. Who is advising Crabtree? Eugene Parker is the agent of record. We also should not underestimate Deion Sanders' sway as a mentor and opinionated adviser. Sanders suggested on NFL Network that other teams would be willing to acquire Crabtree from the 49ers and meet his contract demands. Sounds to me as though Crabtree would welcome a trade. Sanders is 42 years old, hardened by the league and bottom-line oriented in his assessments. I think he could influence Crabtree's thinking.

7. Is a trade likely? The likelihood increases if Crabtree stays away through the season. The 49ers cannot appear to be acquiescing, but they also need to get value in the end. If the 49ers enjoy a season and Crabtree stays away, a trade becomes more palatable.

8. Who has more at stake? Crabtree. The 49ers do not need a rookie receiver to accomplish what Singletary has set out to accomplish. Crabtree needs the 49ers to get what he wants in the short term. And if he does sit out the season with an eye toward re-entering a future draft, he will have lost money in the short term while possibly alienating other teams. There's no guarantee another team would draft him high enough to offset the compensation Crabtree would have bypassed in the interim.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

To follow-up on an earlier item, Michael Crabtree's agent, Eugene Parker, went on record saying he has never threatened the 49ers about having Crabtree skip this season to re-enter the draft.

Parker: "You've known me a long time and I'm not a guy who makes threats. Nor am I a guy who negotiates in the public. I don't know where this came from but no such threat has been made."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat quotes a 49ers source as confirming what Parker is saying. I just spoke with a 49ers spokesman who offered this: "The 49ers are not going to negotiate in the media. In our view, there has been open and positive communication between both sides."

Sounds to me as though Crabtree's cousin and adviser -- the man who said Crabtree would be "prepared" to sit out the season -- might have overstated things.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

New York Jets

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Two new things I'm hearing about the Jason Peters trade, which is being finalized as I type this:

  • Peters is meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles sans agent Eugene Parker, and talks are going extremely well. So well, in fact, that the deal could be announced Friday. The initial expectation was it could take until Sunday.
  • The conditional pick for 2010 might be only a sixth-rounder. Probably not what Buffalo Bills fans wanted to hear, but the club's intention was to get first- and third-round picks for Peters.
The Bills received a first, a fourth and next year's pick for an undrafted player they didn't invest much in besides time and money.
 
  Icon SMI
  Will the Bills unload disgruntled LT Jason Peters to avoid another lengthy holdout?

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

For the past 72 hours, the Buffalo Bills have dominated NFL headlines.

The league suspended Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch for three games, and star receiver Terrell Owens unexpectedly showed up for voluntary workouts.

The most important offseason Bills story, however, regards neither of them.

While cameras search for T.O. and questions swirl around Lynch's latest reprimand, contract angst roils again within left tackle Jason Peters.

To say trouble's on the way would be false. It's already here. More precisely, it never went away.

Just as he did last year by refusing to join the team until two days before the season opener, Peters still wants to be compensated like a franchise cornerstone and quarterback Trent Edwards' blindside protector.

The Bills don't think he's necessarily worth it. Peters' talent is undeniable, but his commitment is dubious.

The drama apparently will drag on awhile. Amid speculation they will unload Peters before the NFL draft to avoid another prolonged holdout, the Bills sound about as far away from trading the two-time Pro Bowler as they are from reaching accord with him.

Peters' trade value will be at its peak before the draft begins April 25, but NFL sources tell ESPN.com it's highly unlikely a deal will materialize by then.

One AFC personnel executive said teams interested in obtaining Peters must open the conversation with first- and third-round draft picks. The Bills are looking for a bundle of assets in return for perhaps the best player at football's second-most-vital position. Those types of proposals haven't been forthcoming.

The Philadelphia Eagles are the team most frequently mentioned as being interested in Peters. They hold the No. 21 and No. 28 draft choices and lost three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tra Thomas to free agency.

But a league source said the Bills and Eagles haven't held any discussions about Peters.

That Peters remains a Bill through the draft isn't guaranteed. Significant trade talks still could occur during the next two weeks.

The switchboard at One Bills Drive could get flooded with calls from around the league, but the Bills are said to be resigned to the possibility they'll be forced to deal with another holdout that could last through training camp.

"We're anxious that he's present and involved," Bills coach Dick Jauron said last month at the NFL owners' meeting in Dana Point, Calif. "It doesn't serve anybody's purpose when he misses all that time.

"Last year, he didn't show up. We've just got to anticipate that he will, and we've got to keep working in that direction and keep the lines of communication open and believe he's going to show up because that's all we can do."

Good luck with that.

Peters proved last year he's not afraid to boycott mandatory practices, incurring more than $600,000 in fines.

Peters still has two year left on a contract he signed in 2006. He will be paid an average of about $4 million a year -- not bad for a guy who was an undrafted tight end out of Arkansas, but well under market value for an elite left tackle, which he has become. Bills right tackle Langston Walker's contract averages $5 million a year.

Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon and senior vice president of football operations Jim Overdorf submitted a contract proposal to Peters' agent, Eugene Parker, at the end of last season.

The proposal practically was dismissed out of hand. Counteroffers have been made, but the sides are farther apart than Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann.

Peters wants a deal that pays him eight figures a year. The Miami Dolphins gave No. 1 overall draft pick Jake Long a five-year, $57.5 million deal last spring, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. The Carolina Panthers in February kept All-Pro tackle Jordan Gross from hitting the open market with a six-year contract worth nearly $60 million.

One AFC general manager agreed Peters is a premium tackle and -- in theory -- well worth the Bills' asking price of multiple draft picks, including first- and third-rounders. But the GM questioned whether it would be a prudent investment to give Peters the money he seeks because of perceived dedication issues.

"Once you give him the money, I'm not so sure he plays up to it," the GM said.

Last offseason, with three years remaining on his deal, Peters skipped every offseason workout, mandatory minicamp, training camp and all four preseason games. He begrudgingly reported -- sans new contract -- two days before the regular-season opener.

Peters was scratched from the first game and got off to a slow start while he played himself into game shape. He missed the final two games with a knee injury.

He didn't play nearly as well as he did in 2007, but his peers and opposing coaches voted him to his second straight Pro Bowl.

Internally, the Bills were dismayed Peters received the honor because they feared it would only reinforce the idea he can coast through another offseason and be rewarded.

 
  Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
  If the Bills do unload Peters, they could draft a replacement in the first round, such as Andre Smith.

A club might be hesitant to trade for Peters in part because it could use a first-round pick on a top rookie tackle rather than send it -- along with other draft choices -- to Buffalo.

For the second straight year, there's impressive talent among offensive tackles in this year's draft class. Baylor's Jason Smith, Alabama's Andre Smith, Virginia's Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher of Ole Miss all are immediate starter material.

Buffalo owns the 11th selection and could take one of those players if they were to trade Peters. With the extra first-round pick they would receive in return, they m
ight draft Oklahoma tight end Brandon Pettigrew or a linebacker.

But one AFC executive remarked that pulling off a multipick deal like the Bills are seeking for Peters would get more difficult as the draft draws nearer.

While that might sound counterintuitive because Peters' trade value should be at its zenith, the executive noted scouts become increasingly passionate about their evaluations as the draft approaches and would become less likely to deal a package of choices.

The New England Patriots, with 11 picks in all and six within the top 97, would be an exception. But the Bills aren't trading Peters within the AFC East.

Then again, based on the vibe emanating from One Bills Drive at the moment, there's a strong possibility they won't trade him at all.

The Bills simply aren't working themselves into a lather to get Peters off their roster.

Much can change over the next two weeks. Maybe the Bills get nervous, some calls get made, a deal gets hammered out and he gets shipped to Philly.

At the every least, the Bills have a Pro Bowl left tackle under contract for two more years.

They would prefer to avoid another holdout, but it's an outcome they probably can't sidestep without a radiant proposal or a serious compromise to make him happy.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says draft analyst Rob Rang is now projecting USC quarterback Mark Sanchez as the Seahawks' first-round choice. Drafting a quarterback to sit behind Matt Hasselbeck for at least one season would suggest the Seahawks weren't at all sold on other prospects. Though prosecutors never filed charges after another USC student accused Sanchez of sexual assault, the character-stressing Seahawks have sometimes steered clear of draft prospects with red flags on their resumes.

Also from Johns: A look at the changeover from Mike Holmgren to Jim Mora.

John Morgan of Field Gulls says he thinks Michael Crabtree is the best player available in the NFL draft, and he would be "amped up" if the Seahawks selected the Texas Tech receiver. Morgan provides some statistical analysis showing Crabtree as highly productive.

Also from Morgan: Why he considers Sanchez to be an extremely high-risk prospect among the top-five choices.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic cites a league source as saying Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald could share the Madden 10 cover with Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Also from Somers: Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby wasn't the only player to fire agent Kirk Wood recently. Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans also made the move. Somers wonders how Dansby's expected decision to hire Eugene Parker might affect negotiations with strong safety Adrian Wilson, who already employs Parker. One negotiation would seem to affect the other, regardless of the agent. The Cardinals, who have little salary-cap room, will gain flexibility if and when they release Edgerrin James.

More from Somers: Fitzgerald and quarterback Kurt Warner have charity events planned for the near future.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com thinks Dansby's recent comments suggest the linebacker is looking forward to hitting the open market after the 2009 season.

More from Urban: Parker, Pat Dye and Todd France are among the possible candidates to replace Wood as Dansby's agent.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Kyle Boller felt good about joining the Rams after consulting with Steven Jackson and Richie Incognito. Boller wasn't happy when he heard former Ravens teammate and current Rams center Jason Brown call him gun-shy, but the two have since spoken about the matter. Boller: "I've been with Jason for the last four years [in Baltimore], and I don't have a bad thing to say about him. I think if you talked to him, we've never had any problems. So, we cleared that up right away. It wasn't a big issue at all."

Also from Thomas: Newly acquired receiver Laurent Robinson isn't good enough to affect the Rams' draft plans in the first few rounds, in his view.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee provides background information on Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, who plans to visit the 49ers. Barrows: "Freeman is generally regarded as the third-best quarterback prospect in the draft behind Sanchez and Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. At nearly 6-6 and weighing 248 pounds, Freeman is bigger and more athletic than the other two. In 2008, he threw 20 touchdowns against eight interceptions for the Wildcats. He also ran for 14 touchdowns, the second-highest mark for a major college QB last season."

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

There comes a time during a prolonged holdout when resentment begins to fray the bonds of union brotherhood.

At first, teammates root for their disgruntled comrade to stick it to The Man and squeeze as much money out of the front office as possible. Gradually, their support fades as they sweat and bleed together on the practice field, as they bank all those mind-numbing hours of film and playbook study, as they ice their pain.

 
 Paul Jasienski/Getty Images
 Jason Peters was to make $3.25 million this season on a five-year contract he signed in July 2006.

Sentiment in the Buffalo Bills' locker room already has begun to turn away from truant left tackle Jason Peters, who surely deserves more money but is exhausting the patience of those who should be supporting him most.

Peters is a Pro Bowler, but is Buffalo's third-highest-paid offensive lineman. He was to make $3.25 million this season on a five-year contract he signed in July 2006.

Communication between the sides has been so minimal the Bills' front office is merely assuming Peters wants more money. They can't say with 100 percent certainty, but it's a safe bet.

The Tennessee Titans in April signed their left tackle, Michael Roos, to a six-year extension worth $43 million. The Miami Dolphins used the first pick in the draft on left tackle Jake Long. They're paying him $57.75 million over five years, including $30 million in guarantees.  

The Bills are hurting at tackle, yet it's abundantly clear they're not about to acquiesce. Owner Ralph Wilson isn't one to back down from a financial fight, especially not one with a player who has three years left on a deal already renegotiated once.

If Wilson yields here, only 23 players might report to Bills camp next year.

The Bills have declared publicly they won't renegotiate with Peters until he reports to the team (they're working out a new deal for receiver Lee Evans, who has been around). They also have made it known to Peters' agent, Eugene Parker, they're not willing to renegotiate 2008, insisting any additional money will be paid next year forward.

Sometimes the only leverage a player has is to hold out, and Peters is pushing it to the hilt.

The players are reconciling with the fact that, barring some dramatic development, Peters won't be showing up soon.

At least two prominent members of Buffalo's offense -- players who preferred to remain unidentified -- now wonder how much Peters will be able to contribute even if he does show up. Peters skipped voluntary workouts, mandatory minicamp and training camp while the Bills were installing new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert's system.

Although the 6-foot-4, 328-pound Peters established himself last year as one of the NFL's elite left tackles, there's a belief the new offense will present enough wrinkles to render him a liability if inserted into the lineup right away.

The longer Peters stays away, the harder it will be to integrate even if he's in great shape. Nobody can attest to his conditioning because he's been spotted less often than J.D. Salinger.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills fans shouldn't get too excited that St. Louis Rams RB Steve Jackson is expected to end a prolonged holdout by reporting to camp Thursday.

That development isn't indicative of any looming progress between the Bills and Pro Bowl T Jason Peters, who's embroiled in a contract dispute of his own.

The connection between Peters and Jackson -- aside from the fact they're the last two holdouts in the NFL -- is they share the same agent, Eugene Parker.

But that doesn't mean Peters and Jackson are using the same playbook.

Multiple NFL sources have told ESPN.com there has been no movement between the Bills and Peters, and the club doesn't expect Jackson's situation to have any bearing on Peters' holdout.

Peters and Jackson have different circumstances. Jackson was entering the final season of the five-year, $7 million contract he signed as a rookie. Peters still has three years remaining on a contract that already has been renegotiated once, giving him a maximum annual salary of $4 million.

Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon has said they absolutely will not negotiate with Peters until he shows up. They are hammering out a new deal for WR Lee Evans, who's with the team.

(For the record, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie DE Derrick Harvey also hasn't reported to camp, but he's not technically a holdout. Harvey isn't allowed to show up even if he wanted to because he hasn't signed a contract. You can't hold out if you're not under contract.)

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Peters

Before my plane left the Buffalo Niagara International Airport tarmac Saturday afternoon, I spotted something spectacular.

Buried on the back pages of the Buffalo News was the headline, "Two men claim to have Bigfoot corpse on ice."

"Wow," I muttered to myself. "Sasquatch is easier to find than Jason Peters."

Information about Peters, the Pro Bowl left tackle who's holding out for a new contract, has been scarce. We're talking Loch Ness Monster and Bronson Pinchot stuff here.

There've been reported sightings -- none confirmed -- in Orchard Park, N.Y., Arkansas and Texas.

Updates from those who might know his location have been negligible.

I've had better luck getting calls returned from Gitmo detainees than I have from Peters' agent, Eugene Parker.

Thursday night in Toronto, I asked Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon if there were any updates on Peters.

Brandon told me he's not speaking about the situation until Peters reports to the team. Then, two days later, Brandon went on Sirius Satellite Radio and claimed there had been no movement.

An NFL source tells me the Bills are more committed than ever to their hard-line stance on Peters. They're a small-market team that can't afford to let their players hold them hostage, and they're learning they might not be that bad without him.

There was a belief Peters -- upset he's the third highest-paid Bills offensive lineman -- might have gained leverage in contract negotiations when the Bills lost backup tackles Matt Murphy and Patrick Estes within minutes of each other. The injuries occurred 72 hours before Thursday night's exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Toronto.

But the first-team offense acquitted itself on its two series, driving the Bills to a pair of touchdowns. Although Peters' replacement, Langston Walker, gave up a sack to James Harrison almost for a safety, the Bills were pleased with how their starters performed.

If Peters wants to get paid at all this year, he'll need to emerge from deep cover.

Until then, at least as far as the Bills are concerned, he doesn't exist.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider