Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com is reporting that the Buffalo Bills have agreed to re-sign cornerback Leodis McKelvin to a four-year, $20 million contract. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com has since learned that the contract includes $7.5 million guaranteed.
McKelvin, who will turn 28 just prior to the start of the 2013 regular season, has emerged as one of the NFL's best punt returners over the last two seasons, returning 31 punts at 18.9 yards per clip with three touchdowns in that time frame. The deal also contains enough total money to reasonably pencil McKelvin in as a starting cornerback entering the 2013 season, though he'll likely be competing with others (Aaron Williams chiefly) for that role.
This deal is similar to the three-year, $15 million contract that the team handed to then 30-year-old cornerback Drayton Florence in the summer of 2011.
The team's first-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, McKelvin has had an up-and-down five-year career in Buffalo, moonlighting as a starting cornerback on several occasions while also getting pushed down toward the bottom of the depth chart on more than one occasion.
At minimum, the Bills have locked up an elite return man for an unusually hefty salary. At maximum, they've locked up a starting cornerback that doubles as an elite return man for a relatively cheap salary. This strikes us as a good middle-of-the-road contract for the two sides; time will tell if Mike Pettine and Buffalo's new defensive coaches can help McKelvin finally realize his potential as a corner, or if he'll wind up being an overpriced return man.