Tyler Dunne: What's your take on the Jason Peter and Lee Evans' contract situations?
Ed Thompson: Peters has made a huge mistake. He's sitting at home deepening the divide between himself and a team that I believe will negotiate a new deal with him -- if he simply reports to camp. If he was trying to to squeeze more money from a team that was in cap trouble or that was showing no good-faith effort to negotiate with players once they reported to camp, I would understand (but still disagree with) his strategy of staying at home. But the Bills currently have $21 million in cap space, are actively negotiating a new deal with Evans, and Peters' dealing with the same team that renegotiated his contract as recently as 2006 that gave him a $1.5 million signing bonus in addition to a $1.25 million roster bonus that year.
He's already the sixth-highest paid player on the team at an average compensation of $4 million per year. People shouldn't lose sight of the fact that even though the figure thrown around in the media is his current $3.25 million salary, he's received enough money up front that he's actually a $4.45 million cap hit this year. That's still too low for his level of contribution to the team's success, but should be enough for him to show up to camp with his teammates and amiably work with the team towards a solution as Evans is doing even though his average per year is roughly half of Peters' current contract.
Perhaps Peters is also using this strategy as a way to avoid the doldrums of summer camp, knowing that his spot is waiting for him when he does return. But if that's part of the reason he's staying away, he's hurting a young offense that's been showing some real promise, since they need to have their full slate of players working together on their timing and chemistry to realize their full potential.
I think Peters will report before the end of camp and a new deal will be struck because it just makes sense for everyone involved. But if he doesn't report to camp, I don't see the Bills bending on this issue. They'd be setting a very bad precedent that could haunt them for years to come with a number of players.
As for Evans, Buffalo will get a deal squared away soon as he's demonstrated both his value and loyalty to the team. There's no way they want him hitting the free agent market at the end of this season, and it's yet another way to show Peters and others on the team that the offensive tackle's tactic has been a huge error in judgement.
AP Photo/David Duprey
ET: Working out a new deal for both Butler and Williams was a very smart move by Buffalo. They rewarded a pair of player at a time when the club has the money to do it, when the young players are just starting to demonstrate their level of talent, and -- perhaps most importantly -- their expectations for compensation are reasonable since they came in as fifth-round draft picks who have just one full season of starts and success under their belts.
Butler and Williams were each going to make roughly $450,000 this year, the third year of their original four-year contracts.
Both players were offered deals that allow them to each bank roughly $2.5 million this season, a deal that's tough to refuse if you're scheduled to make one-fifth of that this year. But the beauty of the situation is the team didn't give either one a signing bonus in the new deal, so they're both now under contract through 2012 with no guaranteed money and less than $50,000 left in prorated money in each player's deals after this season. The team inserted plenty of incentives for both players to earn more, including roster bonuses and bonuses for earning Pro Bowl honors, so it's a win-win contract scenario for both players and for the team.
TD: Safety Donte Whitner guaranteed a playoff berth for Buffalo. Is he crazy? Or do you see the Bills as a playoff contender?
ET: I really like the Bills' chances of being in the thick of the wildcard hunt this year. They managed to win seven games last year despite their reliance on rookies at key positions and the incredible rash of injuries that would have brought a number of NFL teams to their knees. I think they'll be one of the teams clamoring for one of the wildcard spots the final two weeks of the season. If they're healthy and on a roll at that point, Whitner's prediction could come true. But it's going to be critical for them to get off to a good start in September.
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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email through this link.