The Bills held a press conference with general manager Doug Whaley to announce the re-signing of defensive end Jerry Hughes to a long-term contract, reported by the Associated Press’ John Wawrow as a five-year deal worth more than $45 million.
After being traded to Buffalo from Indianapolis in exchange for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, Hughes has been a revelation, registering 10 sacks in each of the last two seasons. Despite being a highly-sought after player in the free agent market, Hughes did everything possible to stay in Buffalo and remain a part of one of, if not the best defensive front four in the NFL to go along with Pro Bowlers Mario Williams, Marcel Dareus, and Kyle Williams.
The five-year veteran who spent his first three years in Indianapolis after being drafted 31st by the Colts in the 2010 draft said he told his agent, Tracy Lartigue, to “make it work in Buffalo”. Hughes said he wasn’t “really worried” about better financial offers being out there, and is confident about the Bills’ prospects this season, and his future development as well.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Hughes said of returning to Buffalo. “It feels great. Huge thanks to (Owners) Terry Pegula, Kim Pegula, Doug Whaley, (team president) Russ Brandon, my agent making all this happen. I’m excited, but now it’s back to work. Kind of like our main focus is to get an AFC East banner hanging up in this building, so that’s the plan. Just get back to work and continue working to try to get better from before.”
“I have come a long way. Still have a lot more work to do. I still have only started just one year in the NFL. I have a lot more room to grow. I am excited to work and just to get back at it. Continue to work and grow. Figure out a way that we can just continue to win football games.“
Despite the elite talent surrounding Hughes on the defensive line, Whaley said it was “number one” on the team’s wish list to keep the pass-rusher.
“We thought we need to keep the core together as long as possible. When you have a free agent come up that has been as productive as he has, and an integral part in our success as a defense, we just said ‘Hey, let’s go all in with Jerry.’”
Hughes said there is a “whole new vibe” since the team hired head coach Rex Ryan and a new coaching staff, and feels there is still “more” to do for the Bills, and didn’t want to “leave this ship unmanaged”.
“Everyone is excited in the building,” said Hughes. “It is just for me, it is getting to know the new coaches. Getting with them and kind of just getting a better understanding of them so we can get that relationship rolling. That way once it comes time for training camp we are all ready to roll.”With moves such as Matt Cassel being traded for acknowledged (via BuffaloBills.com’s Chris Brown) and the trade and signing of running back LeSean McCoy reported but not confirmed by the team (via NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal), the offseason has already been busy for Buffalo.
As for if the Bills will make more moves, there certainly is some potential for it, even if the team won’t say it out loud (via Syracuse.com’s Matthew Fairburn).
Is there more to come from the Buffalo Bills? "Wait and see," Doug Whaley says with a smirk.
— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) March 9, 2015
What remains to be seen is what the team does at tight end, offensive line, and with free agent safety Da’Norris Searcy. But so far, Buffalo has been very active early on.
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