As the 2010 NFL season draws ever nearer, there are several Buffalo Bills players that are playing for a bit more than the rest of their teammates this season. With GM Buddy Nix keeping a close eye on his roster at all times, there are five players in particular that, should they satisfy Nix's personnel needs through their level of play this season, could be in for lucrative contract extensions next off-season.
QB Trent Edwards. Picked in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Edwards will play out the fourth and final year of his rookie contract before hitting free agency next spring. Obviously, his inclusion on this list is contingent on his emerging from the QB muddle as the team's starting quarterback, and then proving himself durable and capable of executing Chan Gailey's offense for an entire season. If he can accomplish those feats - clearly, they're big "ifs" - there's a very real chance he gets an extension in Buffalo.
LT Demetrius Bell. There are still two years remaining on the four-year deal Bell inked in July of 2008, but as a former seventh-round pick, his salaries are obviously quite low. Gailey has raved about Bell's athletic abilities, and it seems likely that he'll enter training camp as the leading candidate to open the season at left tackle. Bell struggled with penalties and consistency in 2009, but improvements in both areas could land him a long-term position on the blind side, and a long-term contract to seal the deal.
ILB Paul Posluszny. Like fellow 2007 draftee Edwards, Posluszny is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Also like Edwards, Posluszny has been a durability risk early in his career, playing a full 16 games in just one of his three seasons. As the Bills switch to the 3-4, it's expected that Posluszny will finally enjoy a break-out season after putting up respectable numbers in 2009. He'll play the weak side, with 2010 free agent addition Andra Davis manning the strong side.
CB Drayton Florence. Most Bills fans shrugged their shoulders when the Bills signed Florence to a two-year deal last off-season in an effort to help replace the departed Jabari Greer. Florence was an afterthought until a season-ending injury to Leodis McKelvin thrust Florence into the starting lineup. The veteran was a pleasant surprise as a starter, and will likely retain that role at least to start the 2010 season. Nix was part of the San Diego regime that brought Florence into the league, so another strong season could land Florence a longer-term deal this time around.
SS Donte Whitner. The fifth-year safety is technically under contract through the close of the 2011 season, but the final year of his deal is voidable. Whitner has been solid (312 career tackles, tremendous versatility), but not spectacular (four career interceptions) after becoming the No. 8 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He and Jairus Byrd give the Bills a solid one-two combination at safety, but Whitner has never played a full 16 games in his career.
Which Bills players not on this list do you believe have a chance to receive contract extensions next off-season?