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Moulds Signs Deal

Eric MouldsThe Bills capped the week with the re-signing of all pro WR Eric Moulds to a new six year contract. Gregg Williams also rounded out his coaching staff. We tackle these main issues and more in our latest week in review complete with our take on the issues:

On Friday, the Bills officially announced the signing of Moulds with an afternoon press conference. His deal is for six years and worth $40 Million with a $2.5 Million signing bonus. He has incentives that can max out at up to $60 Million for the life of the contract. The base contract is just $800,000 average per year less than Keyshawn Johnson for the highest paid in the league. Moulds does become the richest player in team history. His agent said he could have received more money on the open market but Moulds really wanted to stay in Buffalo and is comfortable there. Moulds also seeked the advice of some big time receivers all of whom told him to remain in Buffalo. Moulds was swayed by what happened to Keyshawn last year in Tampa Bay. Our Take: Moulds is the best player on the team and they gave him a cap friendly deal that keeps him where he belongs.

Gregg Williams finished out his coaching staff this week with several hirings. On Monday, he officially added Steve Kragthorpe as the QB coach. He also hired Dan Neal as the tight ends coach and Tommy Kaiser as an offensive and special teams assistant. This was also the day that it was learned that two of Wade Phillips' old coaches were returning as Chuck Lester and John Levra were kept in the fold. Levra will continue to coach the defensive linemen. Lester will go back to his job during the Marv Levy days, he will be a defensive assistant and an administrative coach. Kragthorpe was the offensive coordinator for Texas A&M the last three years. Our Take: It was a smart move to keep some consistency by keeping Levra and Lester. They will need their experience with a young inexperienced staff with little NFL experience like Kaiser and Kragthorpe.

On Tuesday two more coaches were hired from the college ranks as Pat Thomas and Steve Jackson were brought on board. Thomas will be the defensive backs coach and he has actually been out of football for the past two years. Jackson is a former Oiler defensive back and he is getting his first pro coaching job as a defensive assistant. On Saturday, the final member of the coaching staff was hired when Steve Fairchild was made the running backs coach. He had been the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Colorado State the past four years. Our Take: Three more coaches with no experience, we hope that Williams trademark lists are on the money. 5 of 15 assistants are from the college ranks.

On Tuesday Williams introduced most of his defensive assistants to the media. Williams said every man on the podium was his number one choice and he likes them because they are all teachers. He said he expects the defense to play the run with numbers and the pass with speed. All the coaches also stressed flexibility of working with the personnel they have and not to concentrate on one form of defense over another. Special teams coordinator Danny Smith was also introduced and stressed that his unit will always be prepared. Our Take: The fact that Williams gave the special teams coach the title of coordinator and hired an assistant for that unit, shows that he is serious about turning the unit around.

Thursday was the offensive coaches' turn to meet the media. Williams once again stressed that these coaches are teachers first. The offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard is relishing the opportunity while other coaches feel there is a lot of talent there. The club is expected to take a more aggressive approach in the west coast offense. WR coach Fred Graves is excited to have Moulds back and he thinks Peerless Price is a real talent. He also played against Jeremy McDaniel in college. QB Coach Steve Kragthorpe danced around the QB debate by saying both can run the offense. OL coach Ronnie Vinklarek said the line actually as talent and he will try to maximize their efforts and to be consistent in protecting the QB. Our Take: We hope the wool isn't over the eyes of these young assistants, especially as far as the offensive line is concerned.

Owner Ralph Wilson talked to fans on Thursday through an internet chat on the official website. Interesting things said by Wilson includes that he is doubtful on being able to re-sign Marcellus Wiley. He said the cap has hit the wall this year and they will bite the bullet and straighten it out so they will be ok during future seasons. He said the club would probably look for a young QB in the draft while saying a QB decision is coming soon. He also talked about the possibility of the team getting new uniforms for the 2002 season. Our Take: It's a good thing the club will be doing what it can to get out of "cap jail" for future season. If they need to bite the bullet now to do it then they have to, that will mean losing Wiley and other veterans. Phil Hansen and Ted Washington were asked to take a pay cut. Washington won't and will probably be released. Hansen's agent has countered the Bills offer. Look for him to stay. New uniforms are just a good marketing ploy to get fans to buy new merchandise but if it gives the Owner extra bonus money to sign players we are all for it.

On the heels of Wilson's comments regarding Wiley, he spoke to the Buffalo Bills Insider website and said it is highly unlikely he will return to Buffalo. He said the new coaching staff is impressive but the Bills are unwilling to pay him the money he is worth. Our Take: What Wiley doesn't get is, the club may be willing they just can't because of the severe cap problems the team has. Moulds deal is as cap friendly as possible costing the team $2.5 Million against the cap but that is too much to also keep Wiley.

All the so-called experts are weighing in on which QB will be kept and it seems to be the consensus that Doug Flutie will be staying in Buffalo instead of Rob Johnson. The latest speculation this week comes from Larry Felser, a SD radio station and Chris Mortensen. He was the only one that thought Johnson would stay. Our Take: reading between the lines of this week's press conferences and on-line chat session with the owner it appears that Flutie is the guy.

It was confirmed this week by Leigh Steinberg, the agent for Thurman Thomas, that the former Bills star will retire. He is expected to be cut next week by Miami and then he will sign a one day deal with the Bills so he can retire with the club. Our Take: As we told you when this story first broke a couple of weeks ago, this is the way it should be. Thomas a Bill.

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