Bills’, Johnson’s poorly crafted gamesmanship coming to a head

Since the end of the season the Buffalo Bills’ brass and impending free agent wide receiver Stevie Johnson’s representation have been saying all of the right things.  Johnson’s agent C.J. Laboy has expressed interest to get a deal done while at the same time acknowledging that the Bills have been slow to engage in serious negotiations.  Bills’ GM Buddy Nix has reiterated all along that the Bills want Stevie back, that the issues regarding his benching in the season finale are behind both him and coach Chan Gailey, and that they plan on negotiating with Johnson in good faith.  Both sides are saying what they need to in order to keep their leverage while making it known that both sides have an interest in getting a deal done.  It turns out the negotiations have begun to turn fruitful.  Per Rodney McKissic of the Buffalo News both sides have exchanged new contract proposals and talks are primed to heat up at next week’s NFL scouting combine.

It may be a Happy New Year after all for Johnson if he signs an extension with the Bills

There could be several reasons for the sudden increase in dialogue between the Bills and Johnson’s camp.  The first is that the wide receiver market may be beginning to work itself out with the dialogue, or lack thereof, between other impending free agent wide receivers and their current teams.  Recent reports suggest that both Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and Saints receiver Marques Colston will hit the open market.  Other potential free agent receivers that could possibly be hit with the franchise tag are the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson, the Patriots’ Wes Welker, the Chiefs’ Dwayne Bowe, and the Colts’ Pierre Garcon.  If one of the teams that need a #1 receiver fill their slot without Johnson teams that are looking for a complement could opt for a free agent who would take less money such as the Giants’ Mario Manningham, the Saints’ Robert Meachem, or the Rams’ Brandon Lloyd.  There are also veterans such as the Colts’ Reggie Wayne, the Packers’ Donald Driver, and the Steelers’ Hines Ward that could hit the open market as well.  All in all the receiver market is looking like it is about to get flooded and that was before Randy Moss announced his return to the NFL this week.

GM Buddy Nix has made it a priority to re-sign his own guys

The other reason is the realization that the Bills and Johnson are the best fit for each other.  Despite the week 17 benching Johnson has a good relationship with coach Gailey.  He also has a good relationship and great chemistry with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who himself just signed a 6-year contract extension.  He has also taken a leadership role with younger receivers David Nelson and Donald Jones.  Johnson also seems to be comfortable in Buffalo and has already become the first receiver in Bills’ history to have back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons.  At the age of 25 Johnson is already 16th on the Bills’ all-time receptions list with 170.  He only needs 108 catches to crack the top 10 which would take less than two healthy years to attain.  He’s also 19th on the Bills’ all-time receiving yardage list and is a third straight 1,000-yard season away from cracking the top 10 there as well.  Say he signs a 6-year extension, he would likely be at or near the top of all of the Bills’ receiving categories by the end of the contract.  He could carve out his own legacy in Buffalo and if the team turns into a winner he would be a key component, something that seems to be weighing on the mind of Johnson.  The bottom line is that Johnson was a 7th round pick out of Kentucky in 2008 and bid his time while he played behind the likes of Lee Evans, Terrell Owens, and Josh Reed and it was Gailey who had the confidence to make Johnson the offense’s primary aerial weapon when he took over before the 2010 season.  None of that is lost on neither Johnson’s camp nor the Bills.

If Johnson was re-signed it would be the 8th starting or key special teams player to be re-upped by Buddy Nix and co.  At this point with momentum firmly on their side things look optimistic for a deal to be struck.  Still things can go wrong in any negotiation and the process is far from over but both sides seem to want it.  With motivation and momentum now on their side however its hard to see this thing going south.  I’d say that it this point I expect Stevie Johnson to be a Buffalo Bill next year and likely many more to come.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

One Response to Bills’, Johnson’s poorly crafted gamesmanship coming to a head

  1. Pingback: Random Sunday Sports Thoughts « evonsports

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