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Sunday, March 12, 2006
Bills tackle needs, sign DT Tripplett, TE Royal

ESPN.com news services

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Defensive tackle Larry Tripplett and tight end Robert Royal signed with the Buffalo Bills on Saturday as the team wasted no time addressing its numerous needs on the first day of free agency.

Royal, who spent the past four seasons with Washington, agreed to a reported five-year, $10 million contract that includes a $2.5 million bonus. Tripplett spent the past four seasons with Indianapolis, where he started four games last season.

The moves came shortly after both players visited the team at its Orchard Park headquarters.

Their additions fill two holes on the Bills' roster after the team released three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Sam Adams and three-year starter Mark Campbell on March 1. Tripplett is expected to take over a starting spot after the team also failed to re-sign Ron Edwards.

Royal is expected to compete with backup Tim Euhus and Kevin Everett for Buffalo's starting tight end job. Buffalo's third-round pick in the 2005 draft, Everett missed his entire rookie season after tearing a ligament in his left knee during mini-camp.

The Bills, who also have openings on their offensive line, opened free agency projected to be about $16 million under the $102 million cap.

Tripplett appeared in 15 games last season with the Colts, credited with 24 tackles and a career-high four sacks. His best season was in 2003, when he had a career-high 49 tackles and one sack in 16 starts.

Tripplett was the Colts' second-round pick in the 2002 draft out of Washington. Overall, he's been credited with 124 tackles and five sacks in 60 games, 30 of them as a starter.

Royal is coming off a career season with 18 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in 15 games, including 14 starts. Overall, he has 31 catches for 249 yards and five TDs -- four in 2004, when he emerged as a red-zone threat -- in 35 career games.

He was the Redskins' fifth-round pick in the 2002 draft out of LSU, where his 59 catches for 707 yards rank third among tight ends in school history.

Royal spent his rookie NFL season on injured reserve after spraining his left ankle during a preseason game against New England. He also missed the final 10 games of the 2003 season because of a hip injury.

"I still have a lot in the tank. I'm very young and once I go out there, I can prove a lot of people wrong," Royal said, referring to questions about his durability. "I'm glad I've got this opportunity to show people, and I'm just excited."

Buffalo also signed receiver Andre' Davis to a one-year, $1.3 million deal on Sunday and reached an agreement to re-sign guard Greg Jerman to a two-year, $1.3 million contract that includes $100,000 to sign.

Davis, who has 190 yards and a touchdown for the Patriots last season, will have an $800,000 base and a $500,000 signing bonus.

Davis previously played with Bills backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb in Cleveland.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton was used in this report.