Buffalo was impatiently waiting. Fans, journalists and talk show hosts were waiting for the Bills to make a move in free agency to improve the hometown team.
The city wants head coach Dick Jauron out, and is sick of missing the playoffs year in and year out. Three straight 7-9 seasons to go with a nine-year playoff drought will do that to a football town.
I cannot tell you right now if Buffalo will be able to make the post-season this year, but what I can tell you is that the front office is trying, and it looks like the Bills should start the slogan; “Playoffs or Bust” for this upcoming season.
What I can tell you though is that the team is much better today than they were yesterday. Signing playmaking wide receiver Terrell Owens will do that to you.
T.O. is coming to Buffalo after signing a one-year deal this afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium that will pay him $6.5 million for this upcoming season ($0.5 million less than Laveranues Coles, another veteran wide receiver the Bills were interested in).
It is a great move by the Bills both on and off the field.
They went out and got a NFL star (whether it is for good or bad reasons) who can still perform at a high level between the hash marks.
Nine out of the past 11 seasons, Owens has eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark (including 3 straight in which he was between the ages of 33-35). It is also the third straight year that he has hauled in double-digit touchdowns.
Even at 35 years old, the guy can still play.
With Owens being teamed up with Lee Evans, the Bills finally have the receiving threat they have been looking for since the days of Eric Moulds and Peerless Price.
Owens will take the pressure off of Evans, and help turn him into the deep threat that he really is. Add in slot man Josh Reed, who can always find a hole in a zone defense, and speedster Roscoe Parrish, the Bills have players that they can stretch the field with.
Having running backs Marshawn Lynch (after his suspension) and Fred Jackson to help out as well might even turn this offense into one of the best in the AFC. The running game will help take pressure off of the passing game and vice-versa.
Defenses will be scratching their heads every week.
It all comes down to young Trent Edwards, who is entering his third season as a NFL quarterback, the year that QB’s blossom. With all of these targets around him, it would be hard for Edwards not to succeed.
If the defense sends a blitz, Edwards will have two playmakers with man-to-man coverage who can go up and get the ball. If they drop back into a zone and focusing on Evans and Owens, Reed will be able to settle into zones and pick up first downs.
You can say what you want about his attitude and all of the drama that he might bring, but he is entering a city that won’t be following him, 24/7 like he experienced in his previous jobs.
Not to mention the fact that T.O. usually splits a locker room during his second season with a team and seeing as he is only signed for one year, I doubt he will do much damage to team chemistry.
Even limp-wristed Wade Phillips kept him in check during his first season with the Cowboys and seeing as T.O. will be looking for the big contract at the end of this season, he has to perform on the field while also behaving.
The interest wasn’t very high for him this off-season (with teams even making statements that they were not going to sign him) and there will be even less if Owens rips apart another team.
Marketing will skyrocket for the Bills too. With a team that is possibly expected to move in the near future, bringing in a NFL star like T.O. will sell tons of tickets and merchandise to generate revenue for the team. Plus, it gives a team that receives little to no national attention, a little bit of the limelight.
It is definitely a gamble on the part of the Bills, but it is one that is very low-risk. They pick up one of the best wideouts in the game for the right price, while also limiting any damages to the team by T.O. with any of the problems he might bring.
Income, talent and wins are what all organizations are looking for. The Bills took the right direction with the signing today.
They also did something important too, showing the fans and the city that they are committed to winning, something they have not done for a long time.
While it might not bring a championship ring or even a playoff berth, it will make football in Buffalo interesting to say the least.
Get your popcorn ready!