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Monday, March 15, 2004
Cornerback spurns offers from Bengals, Chiefs

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent, one of the few impact players remaining on the unrestricted free-agent market, has agreed in principle to terms with the Buffalo Bills, ESPN.com has learned.

Vincent, a five-time Pro Bowl player and until Monday arguably the premier defender still available in free agency, chose the Bills over proposals made by the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs. He considered the offers during the weekend and after visiting with the Chiefs coaches and officials last week, and had promised all a decision by Monday.

Contract details were not yet available, but one league source said that Vincent's deal likely is for six years and worth about $20 million.

The Bengals immediately turned their attention to Vincent's former teammate in Philly, veteran cornerback Bobby Taylor, but seemed to be making little headway in attempting to fill its need at the position. In fact, league sources indicated that Taylor is suddenly being wooed by the Washington Redskins, who were scrambling Monday to create cap room.

Vincent, 32, not only will replace starting cornerback Antoine Winfield, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an unrestricted free agent, but also will bring even more class to a Buffalo organization that has stressed character under the stewardship of team president/general manager Tom Donahoe.

Universally acknowledged as one of the NFL's classiest players, Vincent has won several awards for citizenship and social consciousness. He is also one of the players on the NFL workplace diversity working group.

A 12-year veteran, Vincent has 42 career interceptions and 177 passes defensed, and had three interceptions in 13 games last season. The former University of Wisconsin star has 858 tackles, 4 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and five recoveries.

While he may have lost a half-step, Vincent remains among the top corners in the league, and should be able to play on the edge for at least one more season before he eventually moves inside and concludes his career at safety. His ballhawking skills figure to be key to a Bills defense that statistically ranked No. 3 in the NFL in 2003, but which still struggles in the takeaway segment of the game.

Vincent began his career as a first-round choice of the Miami Dolphins in 1992, the eighth player selected overall that year, and then moved to the Eagles as a "transition" player in 1996. In Buffalo, he will be paired with Nate Clements, the Bills' first-round pick in the 2001 draft.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.