Veteran LB Angelo Crowell, an unrestricted free agent, surprised some insiders when he said he told the Bills he'd like to re-sign with them. There were harsh feelings between the player and management back in September when Crowell, struggling to stay in the lineup with a bad knee, opted for surgery the week of the season opener. The Bills placed him on season-ending injured reserve, a move Crowell didn't like but now makes some sense.
His microfracture surgery was complicated, and there was no way he was going to be ready to play before the season was finished. His loss left a huge hole in Buffalo's lineup. If he can return to full health, the Bills would likely re-sign him to an affordable deal and free themselves up to focus on other needs.
"Russ (Brandon, the team COO) said the door wasn't closed," Crowell said. "He just obviously wanted to see where I was in my rehab and what's next for me. ... Once I'm healthy, like I said, there's no question in my mind that I can play this game, and I can play at a high level."
Crowell recorded tackle totals of 125, 95 and 140 his three seasons as a starter.
COACHING CAROUSEL: Now that Dick Jauron has been retained for at least the 2009 season, it's likely his entire staff will also return intact barring any career-advancement opportunities they receive. While owner Ralph Wilson has often demanded that a top assistant be fired after a losing campaign -- Wade Phillips' refusal to dump special teams coordinator Ronnie Jones after the 2000 season led to his firing -- it's known that Jauron was given full hiring and firing power in his contract.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's work in three seasons is generally held in high regard. He was forced to start six rookies in 2006, injuries ravaged his unit in 2007 and this season, even without an injured Aaron Schobel, his defense improved from 31st to 14th.
Offensive coordinator Turk Schonert's seat is a bit hotter. While Buffalo improved in yards gained, it sputtered in costly losses to San Francisco and Miami in December, and QB Trent Edwards regressed under his watch, as did J.P. Losman. But Schonert likely will be given a shot at making things better.
FREE AGENT UPDATE: Buffalo's top unrestricted free agent is starting CB Jabari Greer, but the Bills are unlikely to make a strong push to keep him. He did not start the final six games of the year due to a knee injury, allowing Leodis McKelvin, last season's first-round pick, a jump on nailing down the starting spot permanently. Promising Ashton Youboty also returns off an injury.
The Bills declined to get into bidding wars for Antoine Winfield and Nate Clements, much more accomplished corners than Greer, and they aren't about to start now, especially if speculation that Greer will receive offers in the $7 million range come true.
Losman and Gibran Hamdan, Buffalo's two backup quarterbacks, are also free agents. Losman, 0-4 in relief work this season, won't be retained, but the Bills will try to re-sign Hamdan for the No. 3 role. That leaves them in the market for a veteran No. 2.
Other free agents of note: offensive linemen Duke Preston and Kirk Chambers and S George Wilson. Preston, who replaced Melvin Fowler as the starting center, will be offered a deal, but the club will be in the market for an upgrade.
FEELING A DRAFT: The Bills select 11th overall for a second consecutive season. The Bills are in the market for a strong, young center they can build their running game around, and the 2009 class is strong. However, prospects such as Arkansas' Jonathan Luiqs, Oregon's Max Unger and Cal's Alex Mack may not warrant a pick as high as No. 11. That leaves open the option for the Bills to trade down for more picks, which they could always use.
Center: The Bills need to get stronger up the middle so that their young backfield of Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson can prosper.
Defensive end: The Bills' pass rush ranked 28th with just 24 sacks, and there are no guarantees Aaron Schobel will be the same player coming off a foot injury that sidelined him 11 games.
Tight end: This is a decade-long broken record. The Bills need to do better than Robert Royal, Derek Fine and Derek Schouman.
MEDICAL WATCH: SS Donte Whitner re-injured his separated shoulder in Sunday's loss to New England while trying to tackle RB Sammy Morris. Whitner missed two games with the injury and played hurt down the stretch. With rest, he's expected to be fine for the team's offseason program.
Buffalo's ravaged linebacker corps is regaining its health and is on pace to take part in offseason work. Alvin Bowen, John DiGiorgio, Marcus Buggs and Angelo Crowell each suffered a season-ending knee injury this season.
Courtesy of The Sports Xchange