We are now officially less than 48 hours away from the start of the 2009 NFL free agent signing period. Over the next two days, action will really start heating up as players sign tenders, make decisions on re-signing with their current teams and get ready to hit the open market. For the Buffalo Bills and several of their current and potential targets, news is already trickling in.
- On Tuesday, former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor visited One Bills Drive. Today he'll travel east to spend the day visiting the Patriots. Buffalo and New England are, as of this moment, considered the only two potential suitors for the 33-year-old veteran, but there is growing speculation that Taylor may not make it out of Foxboro without a deal.
- Joining Taylor in a tour of Buffalo's facilities was former Patriots wideout Kelley Washington. One of the league's better special teams players, Washington stated his intrigue with Buffalo's league-renowned special teams units. Washington has several other visits scheduled, and will make those visits over the next week or so.
- Some of the most valuable free agents on the market are Buffalo's own players, and cornerback Jabari Greer certainly fits that description. The Bills are expected to up their offer of $4 million per season sometime this week; the Bills offered Greer a 5-year deal worth $20 million over the weekend. Buffalo's latest offer is not expected to keep Greer from testing the open market, however.
- Speculation that the Bills will actively pursue Texans restricted free agent tight end Owen Daniels continues to ramp up. Houston has until Thursday to tender Daniels; it's expected that Houston will either offer a $2.2 million tender (with first-round compensation) or a $2.8 million tender (with first- and third-round compensation). The level of compensation will dictate the level of aggression with which the Bills pursue Daniels, but we can confirm that the three-year veteran is regarded very highly by Buffalo's front office.
- There's an interesting situation brewing in Baltimore. Center Jason Brown is widely regarded as the best free agent center this season, but as it stands right now, the chances of Brown actually hitting the open market are just 50/50. Ray Lewis is the key - if he stays in Baltimore, the Ravens will turn their attention to Brown; if Lewis leaves, they'll spend more time (and money) getting LB Bart Scott re-signed, allowing Brown to hit the open market. If Brown ends up seeking a new employer, the Miami Dolphins are expected to pursue the young veteran heavily.
- Meanwhile, the consensus second-best free agent center, Minnesota's Matt Birk, is currently moving closer to re-signing with the Vikings. Birk is a Minneapolis native who has spent his entire career with the Vikings, and it's highly likely that a new deal will be wrapped up prior to Thursday night/Friday morning. If Birk re-signs, expect names like Jeff Saturday (who likes Pittsburgh), Brad Meester and even Geoff Hangartner to become hotter names on the open market.
- There are whispers (and right now, they're only whispers and difficult to confirm) that the Bills are intrigued with the athletic prowess of Dolphins free agent linebacker Channing Crowder. Reports indicate that Miami has informed Crowder to test his market value, and Crowder isn't thrilled about it. The young veteran has undoubtedly overvalued himself in terms of potential dollars, but he's got a lot of ability. He's a name to keep an eye on.
- The Kansas City Chiefs released veteran QB Damon Huard on Wednesday (along with several other veterans). In an off-season that features very little in the way of proven and reliable veteran quarterbacks, Huard's name may vault to the top of Buffalo's list of potential backups to starter Trent Edwards. Huard is a heady veteran that doesn't make a lot of mistakes, and he's still solid enough to win football games. Even at age 35, he's a far smaller risk than other candidates such as Rex Grossman and Kyle Boller. There is already a strong feeling that the Bills will look to secure Huard's services. In order to do so, however, they might need to talk him out of retirement, as many feel that's the route he'll eventually choose.