Bills GM Nix asks fans for a little more patience

Bills GM Nix asks fans for a little more patience

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix is asking playoff-starved fans for a little more patience while explaining why it's taken him so long to address the team's most pressing need: A franchise quarterback.

With so many holes to fill on the roster when he took over three years ago, Nix said he thought it was better to improve the rest of the team before taking a shot on selecting a quarterback high in the draft.

``There's two ways of looking at doing it: You could get your quarterback first and then try to fill the other holes around him,'' Nix said, Wednesday. ``But then you take a chance on injury and a chance on breaking his confidence down.''

Instead, he added: ``What we did was we had so many needs to start with that every time there was a high-rated player there, we knew he would fill a spot.''

As for whether this is the offseason in which the Bills select a quarterback high in the draft, Nix would only say, perhaps - and only if the right player is available.

``I think the priority is the same,'' he said. ``I think (fans) could take it to the bank every year. We had that intent every year, and we've got it again. Hopefully, they know me well enough that that's what we'll try to do if the guy's there.''

Nix's comments come at a time when the Bills (5-7) are in jeopardy of extending the NFL's longest active playoff drought to a 13th season. Buffalo is on the fringes of playoff contention in preparing to host St. Louis (6-7-1) on Sunday.

Quarterback has been a hot topic of discussion for much of this season in Buffalo because of third-year starter Ryan Fitzpatrick's limitations and inconsistencies. Though Fitzpatrick has been more efficient in helping the Bills win two of their last three, he struggled during a 1-5 stretch in which he combined for nine touchdowns and 10 turnovers (seven interceptions and three lost fumbles).

The Bills did sign Fitzpatrick a year ago to a six-year, $59 million contract extension following the team's better-than-expected 4-2 start. But only $24 million of that is guaranteed. Either way, Nix and coach Chan Gailey haven't ruled out the possibility of Fitzpatrick opening next season as the team's starter.

Last week, Gailey provided Fitzpatrick a vote of confidence.

``We've always said that we are looking to develop a quarterback for the future, but I don't think it's the near future,'' Gailey said. ``As we continue to get better, I think he is going to be the guy.''

That doesn't mean the Bills will ignore looking for an eventual successor.

Nix mentioned quarterback first on Monday, when discussing the team's offseason needs in addressing fans at the Monday Morning Quarterback Club luncheon.

``We want to have a young quarterback we can develop and will be around for eight to 10 years. We're all looking for a Jim Kelly,'' Nix said, referring to the team's Hall of Fame quarterback. ``And I'll tell you this: if you like a quarterback, and like him in the third round, then you had better take him in the second.''

The second position Nix mentioned was receiver, and finding a tall, strong Calvin Johnson-type player to complement starter Stevie Johnson.

On offense, the Bills are set at running back, with the tandem of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. The team's offensive line is gelling into place, too, with the addition of rookie second-round pick Cordy Glenn. Buffalo does risk losing left guard Andy Levitre to free agency this offseason, and is attempting to re-sign him.

``We're headed in the right direction,'' Nix said. ``But when you declare your goal is to build the team through the draft, then it takes patience.''

Time and patience might be running out for Nix and Gailey, but both are expected to get one more season to prove they're capable of turning around the team.

The biggest sign of progress comes on defense now that the Mario Williams-led unit is finally playing up to its high-priced potential.

Williams, who signed a six-year, $100 million contract in March, got off to a dreadful start, as did his teammates on that side of the ball. Through seven games, Buffalo ranked 31st in the NFL in allowing an average 424 yards and 32 points a game.

They've since turned it around, particularly during a three-game stretch in which Buffalo has combined for 11 sacks, forced seven turnovers (three fumbles, four interceptions) and is allowing 244 yards and 17 points per outing.

``I think maybe the best word to express on that would be relief. I'm relieved that we're playing better,'' Nix said. ``I knew we would but, yet, to see it come together has been a good thing for us.

``The way it turned out, I did underestimate how long it would take.''


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....


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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 27, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Here is my sunrise view from this morning:

Looking at next year’s free agents

This post was originally published on March 18. 

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens. 

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard). 

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility. 

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon. 

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup. 

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight. 

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler