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Andrew Cuomo resignation introduces new dynamic to Bills stadium negotiations

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Mike Florio breaks down Josh Allen's six-year, $258 million contract extension with the Buffalo Bills and examines how this deal could impact other QBs around the league, including Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson.

In 14 days, Andrew Cuomo will be out as governor of New York. At that point, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will take over, and her first order of business undoubtedly will be preparing a successful campaign to secure the gig more permanently via the November 2022 election.

This sudden change necessarily affects the negotiations between the Bills and county and state officials for a new stadium. The Bills want plenty of public money and they want to move quickly, given that the current lease expires in 2023. Hochul will need to assess whether and to what extent a major financial commitment to the only NFL team that actually plays in New York will affect her interests in a statewide election.

If she moves to strike a deal too quickly (and if the deal is viewed as too favorable to the billionaires who own the team), it could be used against her in the Democratic primary. Then again, whatever she does will be used against her by opponents. Move too quickly, move too slowly, give too much, don’t give enough. Anything and everything to get people to vote for someone other than the interim incumbent.

The challenge for the Bills becomes finding a way to entice her to do a deal that’s favorable to the team without exposing her to political peril. And it will be important to get everything wrapped up and concluded before the election, in order to prevent a possible replacement from undoing whatever Hochul happens to do.

Last week, before the final dominoes that resulted in Cuomo leaving office began to fall, Hochul (a Buffalo native) said this: “The numbers are not going to be discussed today. They’re unknown at this point because we’re just having preliminary conversations. But let the fans know we’re very excited about the upcoming season. And we expect the Bills will be here a very long time.”

In other words, the state will take all reasonable steps aimed at keeping the team in Buffalo. If the owners reject the deal and/or ultimately find a better deal elsewhere and take it, that will be on them not the politicians.

It therefore wouldn’t be all that difficult to spin a decision by the Bills to reject the best offer of public money. It becomes trickier if Hochul and the state/county collaboration will get the team what it wants or something close to it, especially at a time when the public mood is decisively against public money for rich private interests.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that the notion that the Bills want a stadium fully funded by taxpayer money is a deliberate moonshot that was intentionally leaked so that, if/when the final number lands in the area of 40-50 percent, Hochul will look like a hero -- and that, in turn, she’ll have a major feather in her cap as she tries to parlay a short-term stint into an official four-year term.