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Longtime Buffalo Bills DE Jerry Hughes signs contract with Houston Texans

The Texans have signed veteran defensive end Jerry Hughes, a source told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

It marks a homecoming for Hughes, who is from Sugar Land, Texas, and played at Stephen F. Austin High School.

Hughes is the latest in the group of veteran defensive ends general manager Nick Caserio has added to bolster the Texans’ defensive line. On Tuesday, the Texans announced they signed Hughes’ former teammate with the Buffalo Bills, defensive end Mario Addison.

Last week, Houston also added defensive end Rasheem Green. Hughes’ signing was first reported by NFL reporter Jordan Schultz.

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One of the few players who were retained by the Bills from the previous regime when Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane took over, Hughes was the longest tenured Buffalo player last season.

The 12-year veteran played in all 17 matches but registered his lowest percentage of defensive snaps played (51.8%) since the initiation of his career.

Hughes, who turns 34 in August, was selected as the 31st-overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2010 draft, but he had a slow start to his career.

After three seasons with the Colts, he was traded to the Bills for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard in 2013.

The following nine years of Hughes’ career were spent with the Bills, a team with which he found success. He had 10 sacks in each of his first two years in Buffalo and concluded with at least four in all the following seasons, outside of 2021 (two).

Last season, he led the team in pass rush win rate (20.9%). Hughes is fourth all time in Bills history with 53 sacks and has 58 total in his career. He also has seven postseason sacks.

Hughes has been a longtime leader of the team’s defense as the team has continued to invest in youth, especially on the defensive line.

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Buffalo Bills, WR Stefon Diggs agree to four-year, $104M extension

Josh Allen will be working with his favorite weapon for years to come, as the Buffalo Bills have reached agreement with wide receiver Stefon Diggs on a four-year, $104 million extension that involves $70 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

With two years left on his existing deal, Diggs’ contract now runs through 2027 at a total value of $124.1 million. Both the Bills and Diggs would like him to retire in Buffalo, sources said.

“There was so much work put in to get to this point but I am beyond happy to know that I will be playing the rest of my career with BILLS MAFIA. Words cannot describe how I’m feeling right now,” Diggs wrote in an Instagram post.

The agreement follows a wave of top wide receiver deals this offseason, making Diggs’ extension an inevitable conclusion for the Bills. New Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill received $72.2 million guaranteed, and Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams got $65 million guaranteed.

Allen’s contract extension signed last year ties him to the Bills through the 2028 season.

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The Bills obtained Diggs, 28, in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings in March 2020 in exchange for four draft picks, including a first-rounder. Since that trade, Diggs has put together two of the best seasons of his career, including his first two Pro Bowl appearances.

In his two years with the Bills, Diggs has caught 230 passes for 2,760 yards and 18 touchdowns. His 2020 season included career and league highs with 127 receptions, 1,535 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. In 2021, he caught a career-high 10 touchdowns during the NFL’s first 17-game season.

Since his trade to the Bills, Diggs has ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

The only players with more receptions than Diggs since the start of the 2020 season are Adams and Cooper Kupp, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Diggs’ receptions and receiving yards are the first and fourth most by any player in their first two seasons with a team in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Diggs and Brandon Marshall (with the Chicago Bears) are the only players with 200 catches and 2,500 receiving yards in their first two seasons with a team all time.

“I want to give all players their respect and a fair pay, whoever it is, and Stef’s no different,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane recently said of Diggs. “… I think the world of Stef. I think what he’s brought our team has been great. He’s been great for Josh. He’s been great for our offense, and his leadership has stepped up, and we want to see Stef in Buffalo for years to come.”

The move is likely to create more money for the Bills to operate with this offseason. The team entered the week with less than $1 million in available cap space.

Selected by the Vikings in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft, Diggs spent the first five seasons of his career in Minnesota and signed a five-year extension with the team in 2018.

His time with the Vikings did not end on the best of terms, and Diggs has been vocal about enjoying being in Buffalo and his connection on and off the field with Allen.

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Buffalo Bills agree to deals with Duke Johnson, Jamison Crowder

The Buffalo Bills made two moves to bolster their offense Monday, agreeing to a deal with veteran running back Duke Johnson while also reportedly signing receiver Jamison Crowder to a one-year contract.

Johnson is signing a one-year deal with the team, his agents, Drew Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The moves comes after Buffalo had lost out on running back J.D. McKissic to the Washington Commanders last week.

The Bills originally agreed to terms with McKissic last Tuesday, but the Commanders ended up swooping in, and — after initially not offering McKissic a deal — gave him a two-year contract worth up to $7 million, similar to what Buffalo was offering.

“I’ve had it before where the agent has agreed with you on something and then someone else calls and says, ‘Hey, what if I add a million dollars? Or what if I do this? What if I guarantee this?'” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said last week, expressing his frustration with how Washington handled the situation.

“Once you have an agreement the agent’s supposed to say it’s over. And this agent did that. And this agent told the other club it’s over. But the other club didn’t back off.”

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Similar to McKissic, Johnson, 28, has had success as a receiving back in the past, starting his career with five consecutive seasons with 400-plus receiving yards. He has 12 career receiving touchdowns after spending four seasons with the Browns, two with the Texans and one with the Dolphins.

The 2015 third-round pick played in five games for the Dolphins last year and had some success on the ground.

Johnson had two 100-yard rushing performances in the last four games of the season and 330 total rushing yards and three touchdowns on 71 carries for Miami.

Buffalo needed to add depth to the running back room after Matt Breida hit free agency following one season with the Bills and signed with the New York Giants on Monday. Breida saw limited action with the Bills, playing on 13.1% of the team’s offensive snaps. Johnson will likely be in a similar position on the roster and will have to earn his snaps.

Crowder, who turns 29 in June, led the Jets in receptions in each of the last three seasons, becoming the first player since Jerricho Cotchery (2007-09) to do that. On the downside, his production dropped each year, as he went from 78 catches to 59 to 51, with injuries as a big factor.

Plagued by soft-tissue leg injuries, Crowder missed nine matches over the last two seasons. He was on the reserve/COVID-19 list for one of those games while recovering from a groin injury.

Despite the injuries, Crowder has been one of the league’s most productive slot receivers. From 2019 to ’21, the 5-foot-9, 177-pound Crowder caught 132 passes out of the slot, eighth-most in the NFL.

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Kansas City Chiefs’ Sammy Watkins optimistic about playing in Super Bowl

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins stated he is optimistic about playing in Super Bowl LV on Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after missing both previous playoff games because of a calf injury.

“Feeling great,” Watkins said Tuesday. “Still working out with the training staff and [athletic trainer Rick Burkholder], just going over everything so I can have a chance and possibly go out there and feel 100% or 95% or 85%, wherever I get at by Sunday. Feeling pretty good, very optimistic. Been having good practices.”

Watkins also missed six games during the regular season. He was fifth on the Chiefs with 37 receptions, 421 yards and two touchdowns.

In the final campaign of his contract, Watkins said he would listen if the team would like to re-sign him because he values winning and playing in Super Bowls over personal stats and money.

“I would say, let’s win this Super Bowl and see where my head will be at,” Watkins said. “It would definitely be something to think about. It would definitely be something I would talk to my wife and my kids about, to think about coming back. Would I love a third ring? For sure.

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“I would definitely not say no about it. … To come back and win a third one? Yeah. I don’t mind. I would definitely have to sit and think about it, see what my future holds.”

Watkins’ return would add another dimension to a dynamic Chiefs offense, led by last year’s Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“You never see him get rattled… You just see the calm guy that’s kind of like controlling the game,” Watkins said of his quarterback. “I think that’s what has taken this offense to a whole different level… I think we have an offense that understands now, if we just do the little things right, we can’t be stopped.”

The Chiefs punched their ticket to their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance with a 38-24 victory over the Bills in the AFC Championship game.

The Bills traded up to get Watkins with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.  The team traded Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, along with a 2018 sixth-round draft pick, in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines, who opted out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and was released by the Bills in January.

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Bills advance to AFC championship with 17-3 win over Ravens

In what was supposed to be a showdown between Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Taron Johnson literally stole the show.

If not for the wall separating the field from the stands in the back of the east end zone, the Bills cornerback might still be running after returning an interception 101 yards for a touchdown that propelled Buffalo to its first AFC championship game appearance in 27 years.

Johnson’s pick-6 of Jackson’s pass with 41 seconds left in the third quarter helped secure a 17-3 triumph over the Ravens in a divisional-round playoff game Saturday night.

“We’re excited. It’s not done yet, we’re not done yet,” Johnson exclaimed. “It’s just a blessing. Our defense stepped up to the challenge.” Johnson’s return matched the longest in NFL history and punctuated a stellar defensive outing in which Buffalo (15-3) limited the NFL’s top running offense to 150 yards on 32 carries.

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Jackson, last season’s NFL MVP, was sacked three times and did not return after sustaining a concussion following the final play of the third quarter, and two plays after Johnson scored. He finished 14 of 24 for 162 yards passing, while being limited to 42 yards rushing on nine carries.

Allen, an MVP candidate this year, finished 23 of 37 for 206 yards and a touchdown.

In a season in which the Bills relied mostly on their dynamic Allen-led offense to outscore opponents, the third-year quarterback was gratified to see Buffalo’s defense make a difference in a game the pass-happy attack was kept mostly in check.

The Bills advanced to the AFC championship game for the first time since 1994 on their way to making — and losing — their four consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Buffalo also extended a season in which it has broken numerous droughts by claiming its first AFC East division title in 25 years and, with last week’s victory over Indianapolis, winning its first postseason match since the same year.

The Bills, have won eight consecutives to match their best streak since 1990 and will play the winner of the AFC’s other divisional playoff between Cleveland and Kansas City on Sunday.

The fifth-seeded Ravens (12-6) had their season come to an end after leading the NFL in yards rushing for a second consecutive year. Baltimore clinched its third playoff berth in three years by winning its final five regular-season games. The winning streak came after a 1-4 skid capped by a 19-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Dec. 2 in a game rearranged three times due to COVID-19 issues.

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Bills sign Sean McDermott to multi year extension

In just three short years Sean McDermott has finished the Bills playoff drought and turned the team into a division favorite and AFC contenders. 

Terry and Kim Pegula made sure their coach will be here for a long time to come. “Sean’s leadership on and off the field has been nothing but genuine and transparent, qualities we appreciate as owners,” said Kim Pegula in a statement.

“He is the same great person to us, the players and everyone across all our organizations. We will never forget how impressed we were during his first interview. Sean’s attention to detail was apparent back then and his process driven approach has brought great stability to our organization. We are happy to extend his contract and keep him in Western New York for many years to come.”

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Since McDermott’s arrival in 2017, he has not only rebuilt the team’s roster, but its collective culture. A culture , built on commitment to a process of daily self-improvement for the benefit of the team, love and respect.

His mantra of ‘Playoff Caliber’ is something the players have embraced entirely.

“It was just something he’d keep saying,” stated Pat DiMarco. “Guys would hear it but wouldn’t always live it. Now it’s our nature. It’s like that saying. First you form the habit, then the habit forms you. So it’s a habit now. You come in here and ‘Playoff Caliber’ is the standard. Not only on the field, but in the weight room, the meeting room.

Playoff caliber is what we’re doing every single day. Guys are working their tails off. “Probably the second biggest thing that he preaches is your love for the guy next to you. You’re going to sell out, not for yourself or your contract, but for the guy next to you and his family and his well-being.

There’s just a lot to it. When you care and you love the guy you’re playing for you’re only going to play that much better.”

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