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Bills staying put after agreeing to new lease

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Bills staying put after agreeing to new lease

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills aren't going anywhere any time soon, and the team's CEO, Russ Brandon, guaranteed it Friday.

``Guaranteed,'' Brandon said at a hastily called news conference, announcing the Bills had agreed to sign a new 10-year lease with the state and county to continue playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

``This is a monumental day for us,'' he added. ``The Buffalo Bills are right here in western New York, where we're going to be for many decades to come.''

It's a $271 million deal, of which $130 million will be committed to upgrading an aging stadium that opened in 1973. And the agreement includes a commitment to put aside funds and establish an advisory group to explore the potential of building a new stadium for the franchise.

Just as important, the agreement includes a provision that essentially locks the Bills in for the next seven seasons. The franchise would have to pay $400 million if it decides to leave before 2020. The team then has the option of buying out the remaining three years of the lease for $28 million.

``This is an investment that the state is making. It's an investment in the Bills. It's an investment in western New York. And I'm proud to make that investment,'' Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, speaking via a satellite television hookup from New York City because stormy weather prevented him from flying upstate.

A memorandum of understanding with the terms of the agreement was signed Friday, with the actual lease still to be finalized. It's subject to review by the NFL and during budgeting by the state and Erie County.

The deal was reached before the Bills' existing 15-year lease expires at the end of July. And the price tag for renovations is significantly lower than the $200 million Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz projected it would be when talks first began last spring.

In a breakdown of costs provided by officials, state and county taxpayers are on the hook for $226.8 million for the duration of the lease. That includes a series of annual payments for annual capital and game-day expenses.

Of that total, the state and county are committed to making a one-time payment of $94.5 million next year for stadium upgrades, which will include getting new scoreboards, widening concourses and building a new plaza. The Bills' share for those upgrades will be $35.455 million.

``Those that would criticize the state and Erie County for investing taxpayer money to keep the Bills here would be the same ones criticizing if the Bills left,'' Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said. ``If we were to lose them, that would be a shot into the morale of this community and this state that could not be understated.''

The deal comes at a time when fears were again being raised about the long-term stability of a team based in the United States' 56th largest television market, and in a Rust Belt region.

The Bills often have been mentioned as being a target for relocation. Another issue is the status of the team's Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson, who turned 94 in October and whose health is slipping.

Wilson spent about a week in the hospital in late August because of an undisclosed illness.

Though committed to keeping the Bills in Buffalo during his lifetime, Wilson has not made any commitments regarding the team following his death. He has made it clear that he intends to have his heirs sell the franchise, opening the possibility of the team being purchased by someone interested in relocating the team.

Brandon said Wilson's loyalty to Buffalo has never wavered, and he took offense when asked what might happen to the franchise once Wilson dies.

``The question becomes tiresome. I understand it, but it's become tiresome,'' Brandon said. ``Mr. Wilson's loyalty is unmatched as any owner in professional sports. And I think we should be here today to applaud him.''

Wilson was not present for the announcement. He hasn't made a public appearance since attending the Hall of Fame induction ceremony festivities in Canton, Ohio, in early August.

Brandon previously dismissed discussions of the Bills' need for a new stadium, saying the team was committed to continuing to play at its current home.

He's now open to the possibility of a new venue.

``We're going to look at the potential of a new stadium in the next decade or so, and see if it makes sense for our community,'' Brandon said.

With the New York Giants and Jets both playing in New Jersey, the Bills are the NFL's only team based in New York. It's estimated that the state annually earns $20 million in taxes from the Bills.

``This is a forward-looking agreement that thinks about not just today,'' Poloncarz said. ``But it's also forward-looking so that we do what's necessary so that at the end of this 10-year period, we're not just wondering, `What do we do now?'''

The agreement includes a clause limiting the Bills to playing one annual home game and a preseason game once every two years in Toronto. That's similar to the five-year agreement between the Bills and Toronto-based Rogers Communications to have the team play north of the border.

The two sides have been in negotiations and are close to renewing the agreement.

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Associated Press Writer Michael Gormley in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.

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Redskins vs. Jets Week 11: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Redskins vs. Jets Week 11: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

At 1-8, the Redskins have several changes to make if they hope to end the season on a high note. That has started by making a change at quarterback, as interim head coach Bill Callahan has named rookie Dwayne Haskins the team's starting QB for the rest of the season.

Haskins will make his first home start this Sunday, as the Redskins host the 2-7 Jets. The rookie will hope to end a 13-quarter touchdown drought the Burgundy and Gold are currently in, as Washington has not punched it in the end zone since their Week 6 victory in Miami.

Second-year running back Derrius Guice, who hasn't played since Week 1, returns on Sunday. The LSU product should help the Redskins in multiple ways, taking some of the load of veteran Adrian Peterson and also in the passing game as well.

New York is coming off their second victory of the season, defeating their cross-town rival, the Giants, 34-27.

The Redskins lead the Jets in the all-time series, 8-3, but New York has won the past two contests. Here's everything you need to know.

REDSKINS vs. JETS WEEK 11

Who: Washington Redskins (1-8) vs. New York Jets (2-7)

What: Week 11 of the 2019 NFL regular season

When: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, 1 p.m. ET

Where: FedExField, Landover, Maryland

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: Stream on FuboTV, Pregame and postgame coverage streaming on NBCSportsWashington.com

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Spread: Redskins, -1.5

Over/Under: 38.5

Weather:  43 degrees, cloudy

REDSKINS vs. JETS TV SCHEDULE:

8:30 a.m.: Pro Football Weekly

9:00 a.m.: Redskins Talk: Week 11

10:00 a.m.: Inside the Redskins

11:00 a.m.: Redskins Coaches Show

11:30 a.m.: Redskins Nation

12:00 p.m.: Redskins Kickoff Live

4:00 p.m.: Redskins Postgame Live 

REDSKINS 2019 SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Redskins at Eagles (L, 32-27)

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Cowboys at Redskins, (L, 31-21)

Week 3: Monday, Sept. 23, Bears at Redskins, (L, 31-15)

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Redskins at Giants, (L, 24-3)

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Patriots at Redskins, (L, 33-7)

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, Redskins at Dolphins, (W, 17-16)

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, 49ers at Redskins, 1 p.m. (L, 9-0)

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 24, Redskins at Vikings, 8:20 p.m. (L, 19-9)

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, Redskins at Bills, 1 p.m. (L, 24-9)

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Jets at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Lions at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Redskins at Panthers, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Redskins at Packers, 1 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Eagles at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Giants at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Redskins at Cowboys, 1 p.m.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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Scott Boras is once again in place to control the Nationals’, and baseball’s, offseason

Scott Boras is once again in place to control the Nationals’, and baseball’s, offseason

The calendar has once again put Scott Boras into the spirit. 
 
Coming holidays have nothing to do with his joy. He’s giddy, revved, his premium salesman self again because the regular season is over, which means free agency has begun.
 
Annually, Boras has a large grip on the market and the Nationals’ future. This year, he’s in a white-knuckle place. Boras represents both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. He also represents starter Gerrit Cole. Those three are the top free agents -- by a wide swath -- this offseason, putting Boras in a place of leverage he may always talk from but likely has this time.
 
The Nationals have long felt Boras’ influence, on both good and bad fronts. He convinced Nationals founding principal owner Ted Lerner that Max Scherzer was worth $210 million and, more importantly, a seven-year commitment when other teams did not believe that to be the case. The contract has been a coup despite its hefty numbers. But, Boras also provided underwhelming veterans to the Washington roster. Matt Wieters and Jeremy Hellickson are among those who come to mind.
 
This time around, he has curious clients. They’re different. Neither is Bryce Harper in flamboyance or age. Both have established relationships with the Nationals. The vetting process is unnecessary and even an exchange of numbers is probably well in the past. Two huge, but somewhat reticent, stars coming from the same team after winning the World Series will be new for everyone.
 
Rendon has used his own leverage on Boras. Back in spring training, when Rendon told NBC Sports Washington negotiations with the Nationals “hit a wall,” he also made clear how he perceived the agent-player relationship when it came to him and Boras. 
 
“What everyone has the misconception of is they think that we work for Scott,” Rendon said. “Like, no. That’s not the way it works. Like, I’m telling him how it’s going and you can ask him. We’ve gotten (into) some jibber-jabbers before, too. Like, I’m paying him. Nah, [debates] don’t fly with me.”
 
Move to Media Day at the World Series. Rendon was asked if he thought Boras would be busy this offseason. He quickly answered, “yeah,” then added this poke.
 
“He’s about to be even richer, too, probably,” Rendon said. “Must be nice.”
 
Strasburg undermined one of Boras’ prime tenets in 2016 when he signed an extension early. Washington had to trade back-end opt-outs as the cost of keeping Strasburg from the open market. Negotiations then worked from spring training into the first month of the season. Strasburg wanted nothing to do with them until both sides were very close to an agreement.
 
“I pretty much told Scott to kind of leave me alone as much as possible,” Strasburg said then. "To be honest, it’s hard to block something like that out. It’s your future and your kid’s kids future, too. I think one thing that kept me centered, kept me focused, was why do I play this game. Bottom line was I play this game because I’m a competitor.”
 
The deal gave Mike Rizzo a chance to crow a tad.
 
“I think we had a discussion with Scott,” Rizzo said then. “He works for the players. I think this was player-driven -- the agreement. I think that Stephen wanted to be here and he expressed that to Scott. We hammered out the best deal that we could.”
 
Strasburg agreed with that sentiment at the time, before the World Series, before he found a formula for good health which allowed him to lead the National League in innings pitched in 2019. It's one of the tenets which makes Washington hopeful Strasburg will return.
 
“I think what they believe in and what I believe in kind of coincide,” Strasburg said of the organization.
 
Strasburg chose to exercise his first opt-out opportunity. However, what he listed as causes for signing the extension -- level of comfort, opportunity to win, quality of life outside of baseball -- remain in place. The wrinkle is Boras will be working the open market with both of the top-tier pitchers under his guidance. 
 
Typically, competition between agents to define the market can drag out free agency. This offseason, Boras will simultaneously be handling the clients whose markets play off each other. Strasburg’s numbers will influence Cole’s numbers. Their age -- Strasburg is a little more than two years older -- should be the defining point for gap in payment and years. Boras will argue up Strasburg in order to later obtain more money for Cole. Waiting could be beneficial to both players and laborious for fans.
 
Boras is again in command no matter the ultimate process. Washington’s most pressing issues are in his hands. The league’s most in-demand players are in his hands. So is the future. Juan Soto, a client of the Boras Corporation, becomes a free agent in 2025.

 

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