Update [2008-3-1 11:27:45 by Brian Galliford]: Pro Football Talk is now reporting that there is conflicting information on the Stroud-to-Buffalo situation. The details:
But a source with knowledge of the situation insists that Stroud is still in Buffalo, and the source says that reports that Stroud cut his visit short are "incorrect."
This is a Clemens-McNamee type of a conflict; someone is clearly right, and someone is clearly wrong.
The plot thickens. Personally, I found it odd that Stroud would leave town so quickly; I'm tending to believe that the Bills are trying to talk his price down, but the teams are still in negotiation (again, that's just speculation on my part). Stay tuned... End Update
Less than a full day after the Buffalo Bills released veteran DT Larry Tripplett - a move perceived by many to be in anticipation of a big deal for a new tackle - the Bills are still searching for a replacement. Many thought that since Jaguars DT Marcus Stroud was reportedly in Buffalo yesterday that the Bills were close to making their biggest DT splash since signing Sam Adams.
However, reports have since surfaced that negotiations between Stroud and the Bills have broken down:
The three-time Pro Bowl selection cut short his visit with the Bills in Buffalo on Friday after the team's interest cooled upon learning Stroud was seeking a significant raise, a person familiar with the player's visit told The Associated Press.
If the Bills are unable to land Stroud via trade - and there still could be an outside shot of a deal occurring - the Bills do have a couple of options at the position. Veteran Cover-2 DT Anthony McFarland was released this past Wednesday, and while no longer an elite option, could significantly help the development process of current DT John McCargo and any rookie the Bills choose to add. A McFarland signing would still have to be considered a quality move, if only a stop-gap measure. Since McFarland was released due to a failed physical, a potential signing, wherever it occurred, would have to come with extensive tests of the patella tendon that caused him to miss the 2007 season.
There is also an unconfirmed rumor that the Bills are ready to sign former Vikings DT Spencer Johnson to a deal. Further clarification on this rumor is needed before it can be taken seriously, but Johnson has some pass-rushing potential. Conceivably, he would be signed as a younger, cheaper, slightly more athletic version of Tripplett to play the 3-technique on obvious pass downs. He's a rotational player, but he has the ability to make more of an impact than Tripplett ever did. Johnson was Minnesota's nickel tackle, in essence, leaving first and second down to the Williams duo of Pat and Kevin.
There are also several DT options available to Buffalo in the draft. It's not time to panic yet, Bills fans - especially if the rumors about the Spencer Johnson signing turn out to be true.
Other Bills Free Agent News
After signing former Giants LB Kawika Mitchell (a player we'll have much more on in the coming days), the team did not slow down in reaching out to potential free agents. The team is expected to meet with Titans TE Ben Troupe, Falcons FB Corey McIntyre, and Falcons TE Alge Crumpler (possibly) over the next few days. The team has also been in contact with the agent of Cardinals WR Bryant Johnson, who is expected to visit Chicago and likely won't sign anywhere until Bernard Berrian sets the market.
Just as I predicted on Thursday, the Bills made trying to find a DT one of their top priorities. If the Bills aren't able to make a deal for Stroud and aren't interested in a McFarland (or even a Dewayne Robertson), look for them to quickly wrap up a deal with Johnson and wait to find their fourth tackle in the draft. That's exactly what they did at the running back position last season. The Bills should have a specific direction at this position by the end of the day today.
Wide receiver should be Buffalo's top priority at this point. With several big names (Berrian, Johnson, D.J. Hackett) still available, the Bills should set up a visit with a wideout over the next couple of days. Once Berrian signs (look for Oakland to overpay for him), Johnson and Hackett will look to sign quickly themselves. The Bills may need to get on this train quickly, lest they have another glaring hole to fill come draft time.
As always, keep your browsers open and refreshed on Buffalo Rumblings, as we'll keep you up to date on all the rumors swirling around the Buffalo Bills.