After weeks of endless speculation about whether or not Bills DT Darwin Walker would sign a deal and report to camp or whether he'd go back to Philadelphia, we finally have some hard news on the situation... sort of. The AP reports that Walker and the Bills are talking contract, with the goal being Walker's attendance at the team's first minicamp. With that camp starting Monday June 11, that gives the two sides just one weekend to reach a deal.
Most Bills fans are familiar with the situation, so this will be brief - Walker was acquired in the deal that sent Takeo Spikes and Kelly Holcomb to Philadelphia. The Bills received Walker and a 2008 7th-round pick in the deal. Walker was acquired by the Bills with the knowledge that if he did not receive a restructured contract, he would hold out - prompting Marv Levy to write a stipulation into the trade that if Walker did not report to the Bills by August 5th, he would go back to Philadelphia for the Eagles' sixth-round pick next season. With that deadline looming, the pressure has already started to mount on the Bills' front office to get a deal done.
Now, let's get one thing straight - I am a Darwin Walker fan, and I would like nothing more than to see him in a Bills uniform for 16 games this season wreaking havoc in opponents' backfields. While I find this bit of news to be encouraging, I'm not holding out any hope that a deal will get done in the foreseeable future. Call me a pessimist all you want, but there's a lot more to getting a deal done than talking three days before a mandatory camp.
What struck me as interesting was this quote from Albert Irby, Walker's agent:
I'll believe that Walker wants to be a Bill when he shows up to mini camp Monday with or without a restructured deal. "Worst way" implies that there's nothing that would stop Walker from being with his teammates; that obviously isn't the case. Chalk that one up to Irby buttering up the Bills in an effort to milk as much money out of the franchise as possible. He basically confirmed this later:
Getting a deal done before Monday isn't out of the question, but given the amount of ground that seemingly needs to be covered, it seems unlikely at this point. The fact that the two sides are talking this early does tell me one important thing: the Bills want Walker on this roster very, very badly. Two months before the trade deadline that would nullify the deal, Levy and Jim Overdorf have reached out in an attempt to get this thing done. That speaks volumes about their opinion of Walker, even if he has yet to prove that he's the best teammate in Buffalo.
I'd appreciate everyone's thoughts on this bit of news - and if you haven't answered the poll on the right bar of this page, go ahead - there's been some pretty interesting results to date.