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The Buffalo Sabres – Buffalo’s other pro sports franchise – are very happy with their trade deadline acquisitions. This past week they added a goalie and a promising young forward. They also signed one of their star players to a well-earned contract extension. They kept the buzz going with two straight 5-1 victories since the roster moves.
But all that pales in comparison to what the Bills announced today.
We here at the Buffalo Bills Review were hopeful that the Bills might fill some needs with some recognizable name players like C Jeff Saturday or Matt Birk, or backup QB Jeff Garcia, even RB Fred Taylor. Based on their history, that was wishful thinking of course, but people – and organizations – can change, so there was always a chance.
The Bills lost out on most of those guys, and strangely went with a very Losman-like QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick from Cincinnati. They have had a parade of free agent visitors through the doors at One Bills Drive, but have only managed to sign those you might expect them to. G/C Geoff Hangartner and CB Drayton Florence have both signed with the Bills. They seem to be hole-filler, role players, replacing the released G Derrick Dockery (now back with the Redskins) and recently departed CB Jabari Greer, who will don the New Orleans Saints uniform in 2009.
And the parade has continued. Names like Lavarenues Coles, Joey Galloway, Cato June, DeShaun Foster, Freddie Keiaho… all players with some name recognition. To this point, I have been giving the Bills an “A” for effort. They’re definitely not satisfied with their roster as-is.
But honestly, I never saw this coming. Even when I saw the idea posted to the Buffalo Bills Message Boards. Even when a Cowboys-fan friend of the show suggested the possibility.
Not even in my Madden franchise.
But we have said repeatedly on the Buffalo Bills Review that Russ Brandon has done an excellent job marketing this team. He may not be a football guy, so to speak. He may not have years of NFL experience. He may not be the best candidate for General Manager of the Buffalo Bills. But he sure knows how to market his team.
You can’t argue with TO’s numbers. While his off (and on) field antics may draw the attention of the press, his production on the field has been stellar. Nine straight 1,000 yard seasons. Double-digit TD receptions three of his last four seasons. He’s a deep threat, he’s a possession receiver, and he’s just a play maker. Owens presence in Orchard Park should even land the Bills at least two more nationally televised games in 2009.
Still, you have to wonder what Marv Levy thinks of this deal.
What I really do like about the signing is that it is just a one year deal. Owens often has a good first season for his new team. Perhaps that will hold true in Buffalo.
Still, questions abound – especially from the nation media who has something of a TO soap opera fetish. How will TO mesh with young QB Trent Edwards. (When will he first complain about not getting the ball enough?) Can a team already dealing with the distraction of RB Marshawn Lynch’s second brush with the law in the past year handle the walking time bomb that is TO?
For the moment, the Bills are happy to have the chance to roll the dice.
If they do indeed get on a roll, and TO produces on the field as he has been, the Bills will not be the 25th ranked offense in the league next year. With Evans, Owens, Lynch, Jackson, Edwards and even Parrish and Reed… opposing teams will have their work cut out for them.