When the Buffalo Bills signed running back Fred Jackson to a three-year contract extension in May, the focus of Bills fans everywhere shifted to the next two big-name impending free agents on the team's to-do list: left guard Andy Levitre and free safety Jairus Byrd.
Per WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia, who was informed by Levitre himself after OTA practice on Tuesday, the Bills have already reached out to Levitre's representation about the possibility of a new contract. Levitre says that preliminary talks have been held, but that he's not aware that any potential salary numbers have yet been discussed.
Entering his fourth year, the former second-round pick out of Oregon State has been Buffalo's most versatile and durable offensive lineman essentially since he stepped foot on a pro field. He's started all 48 games he's ever played in, sprinkling in some starts at left tackle (and one at center) while predominantly playing left guard.
After a rough rookie season, Levitre showed marginal improvement in 2010, then began the 2011 season playing at an All-Pro level. Injuries forced Levitre to first play left tackle, then one infamous outing at center - and by the time he returned to his left guard post, the momentum he'd built early in the season had evaporated, and he finished the season on a low note.
Still, Levitre has shown that he's capable of playing at a very high level, and while his versatility is a nice thing to have, the Bills need to begin focusing on developing Levitre into a high-end starter at his best position. That's the goal this year - and if things work out well, Levitre could be in for a big pay day.
Byrd has already spoken with reporters during OTAs, but did not give (or perhaps was not asked to give) any indication that the Bills have talked contract with his representation. Still, it's heartening to know that GM Buddy Nix and company have at least gotten the ball rolling with one of these two key figures.