The offseason always starts a little earlier in Buffalo.
Buddy Nix may not have a job following a third straight dismal season as general manager of the Buffalo Bills, but he is still doing everything he can to provide continuity to an unstable franchise.
According to James Walker of ESPN.com, Kraig Urbik and the Bills have agreed on a four-year, $15 million extension through the 2016 season. Urbik was supposed to become a free agent following this season.
Urbik was a restricted free agent this past season, but the Bills signed the guard after offering him a one-year qualifying offer in the offseason.
A former NCAA All-American, Urbik was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2009 draft, but after an injury-plagued season, the Steelers dropped the mauling guard just a few days before the start of the 2010 season. He was claimed off of waivers only two days later by the Bills.
The fourth-year guard from Wisconsin became the starter at right guard last season following an injury to Eric Wood, who now plays center for the team. The team didn't miss a beat with Urbik in the trenches, and he immediately became a fan favorite for his smash-mouth style of play, especially in the run game.
Following a 1,000-yard season for third-year back C.J. Spiller, Nix is trying his best to keep the foundation of a suddenly above-average line that he has built in his three seasons at the helm. The Urbik signing is a good first step toward accomplishing that goal, but Nix cannot stop with him.
Buffalo still has two prime, impending free agents who will likely command big money elsewhere if the Bills allow them to test the open market.
Left guard Andy Levitre and free safety Jairus Byrd are both playing at the same level as the league's elite at their respective positions. It is likely that Byrd will make the Pro Bowl with five interceptions and a few more electric plays from the backfield of the defense. Levitre will likely be named an alternate or left off completely because of Buffalo's poor record.
The Bills brass churned the midnight oil to get a deal done with a key piece of their team moving forward, but they would be wise to continue that effort by making substantial offers to key players who are imperative to Buffalo's success moving forward.