BALTIMORE – The Buffalo Bills made a move to lock up one of their veteran leaders Saturday.
The team announced before their preseason game here against the Ravens that center Eric Wood agreed to a two-year contract extension through the 2019 season. Wood was entering the final year of his contract. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Saturday that the contract includes $16 million in “new money.”
General Manager Brandon Beane said the team entered into discussions with Wood’s agent a couple of weeks ago.
“You’re always hoping to get it done as quick as you can,” Beane said. “Contracts happen when they’re supposed to. This afternoon, things came together with he and his agent and we were able to get it done and get it inked before we got on the field tonight.
“Eric’s done a great job since he was drafted here in ’09. We think he’s still playing well. We think he’s a leader up front, not only on the O-line but on the offense. He’s a guy that we feel is part of what we’re doing going forward and he’s going into the last year of his deal so we wanted to get something done.”
Wood, 31, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Bills since being a first-round draft pick of the team in 2009. He started nine games last season before a broken leg suffered on Monday Night Football against the Seattle Seahawks ended his season. Before that, Wood had played in 59 consecutive games, which was the fifth-longest streak among active NFL centers.
“You want to extend the guys that are your leaders and help spread your message,” Wood said. Coach Sean McDermott “has been here a little longer than I and this is our first year, but he’s a guy that we’ve noticed the leadership. His play speaks for itself. He’s a guy that we wanted to move forward with.”
Give Andre Holmes credit for this: His poker face is tough to crack.
Ask him about Anquan Boldin retiring from the Bills less than two weeks after getting to the team, and Holmes is stoic.
“I can’t make anything out of it,” the receiver said. “I’ve just got to keep coming to work and try to get better. Whatever happens, happens. You just gotta get better and come to work.”
But what about the team trading No. 1 receiver Sammy Watkins earlier this summer? That had to be surprising, right?
“For sure,” Holmes said. “No one saw anything coming. But it’s just part of life in the NFL. Things happen. Players move. Players get cut, traded, whatever it is. Things happen and you can’t let it affect you. You can only focus on what’s in front of you and each day is a new day. You’ve got to be a pro and that’s part of being a pro.”
It’s safe to say there isn’t much that gets to Holmes.
“You can’t let anything affect you,” he said. “You just gotta do what you have to do for work, for your job, for the team to get wins. That’s all it is. You can’t really focus on stuff you can’t control.”
That’s a good approach to take, but there has been a fair amount of speculation surrounding Holmes. An uneven start to training camp accelerated talk that he could be a surprise cut. The reasoning behind that would be planning for the future. If the Bills cut three of the seven free agents they signed that count toward the compensatory draft-pick formula, they could land an additional third-round selection in April.
For a front office that has made accumulating draft picks a top priority, that has to be appealing to Beane. The Bills, though, might not have that luxury. Trading Watkins and seeing Boldin retire unexpectedly has shaken up the depth chart at receiver. Jordan Matthews figures to be the No. 1 receiver when he returns from injury, and rookie Zay Jones looks good for a spot in the top three. After that … who knows?
“We feel like we’re good enough. You can’t be in the league if you don’t feel like that,” Holmes said. “We’re not trying to feel sorry for ourselves or anything like that. We’re just putting our best foot forward and going about our business and doing what we have to do.”
One of the biggest questions for the offense is who will stretch the field now that Watkins is no longer with the team. Veteran Rod Streater was a possibility in that regard, but he’s been out since being hurt against Philadelphia in the second preseason game last week.
“I think we have a lot of speed in this group and I don’t see any problem with Sammy leaving and not being able to stretch the field,” Holmes said. “We’ve all got very fast football speed and we can all stretch out the field. I’ve seen Zay stretch out the field already. I know Jordan can. I have. Really everybody. I don’t see Sammy leaving – that departure – as changing that part of the offense for us.”
Holmes finished the first half with one catch (on five targets) for 9 yards against the Ravens.
What was supposed to be a three-man competition for the starting right cornerback job with the Bills might amount to a two-man race. That’s because a shoulder injury kept cornerback Kevon Seymour out of the lineup Saturday night. That means newcomer E.J. Gaines and veteran Shareece Wright split time with the starters.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said earlier in the week that the Bills hoped to come out of Saturday’s game with some “confirmation” on which direction the team will go opposite rookie Tre’Davious White in the starting lineup.
“This is the time, that third preseason game, where you’d like to have some solidification in your top 11,” Frazier said. “Hopefully that’ll be the case, hope we come out of that football game feeling real good about our starting 11.”
Left tackle Cordy Glenn and wide receiver Jordan Matthews also did not play. Both players made the trip here, but neither was expected to play as Glenn remains out with a foot injury and Matthews is nursing a chip fracture in his sternum.
Also not in uniform for the Bills on Saturday were: WR Jeremy Butler (concussion), LB Tanner Vallejo (knee), S Trae Elston (hamstring), S Colt Anderson (foot) and Streater (toe).
Additionally, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was not in uniform – but that was not injury related. Dareus was sent home for a violation of team rules.
Offensive tackle Cameron Jefferson once again raised his fist during the national anthem, a form of silent protest he said is meant to bring attention to racial injustice in America. Jefferson first made the gesture last week against Philadelphia. … Captains for the Bills on Saturday were Lorenzo Alexander, Kyle Williams and Tyrod Taylor.