Bills in great shape after inking Evans to extension

October, 2, 2008
The Bills signing of wide receiver Lee Evans to a four-year, $37.25 million contract extension leaves the 4-0 team in great shape for years to come. Center Melvin Fowler is the only starter who is an unrestricted free agent after this season. The defense could lose cornerback Jabari Greer but they drafted Leodis McKelvin in the first round to be the starting cornerback of the future. Prior to doing the Evans deal, the Bills were well under $100 million -- about $94 million -- for payroll. They are doing things right in Buffalo.

The big winner: The big winners from the Evans' deal, aside from Evans and the Bills, are Roy Williams and the Lions. Williams, who has Pro Bowl talent, is now the top free agent receiver next year. Like last year with Randy Moss and Bernard Berrian, there is a big drop after Williams. Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh is probably the next best free agent receiver and he's in his thirties. The Lions aren't expected to trade Williams unless there is a ridiculous offer in the next two weeks. That's unlikely. The plan is to franchise him and try to get maximum value in a trade. Williams can probably ask for $10 million a year. The Lions can ask for more than just a first-round pick. Getting Evans off the market probably helps both sides.

Message sent: The one-game suspension of defensive tackle Tommie Harris by the Bears is an example of how money can't please everyone. Like Plaxico Burress, who fought hard for his five-year, $35 million extension, Harris had to really battle for his four-year, $37.9 million deal. But Harris hasn't practiced with the team since the start of the regular season because of a sore knee. When he missed treatments and became a little testy, the Bears suspended him for Sunday's game against the Lions. Management thinks some of the players who signed extensions aren't playing as hard as they would like. By singling out Harris with the suspension, the Bears confirmed they haven't been happy with some of the more affluent core players on the team.

Hobbled troops: Saints coach Sean Payton can't catch a break. The injury list keeps growing. First-round pick Sedrick Ellis had to get his knee examined after he couldn't make it through individual drills. Ellis' status for the Monday night game against the Vikings is unknown. Payton said Ellis heard a click in the knee during those drills and had to leave. Payton has 14 players on the injured list and has already ruled out receivers Marques Colston and David Patten, tight end Jeremy Shockey and cornerback Aaron Glenn.

Wait and see: The best guess on the return of Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor is next week. Taylor is expected to miss Sunday's game against the Eagles because of last week's leg surgery. Taylor went to the doctor Thursday. He is feeling better but probably not good enough to play.

Bengals being cautious: The fact Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was only throwing 30-yard passes on the side isn't a good sign he will be ready for Sunday's game against the Cowboys. Palmer has inflammation in his right elbow and the team doesn't want to risk long-term injury. Palmer vows to play, but the doctors should make a determination Friday.



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