ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -Darwin Walker and the Buffalo Bills have increased talks to complete a restructured contract in time for the defensive tackle to attend the team's mandatory minicamp next week.
``We've had dialogue and we're still hopeful,'' Walker's agent, Albert Irby, told The Associated Press on Friday. ``We've got to be hopeful because Darwin wants to play there and sees it as a wonderful opportunity. He wants to be a Bill in the worst way.''
Irby said he and the Bills have spoken numerous times this week, including Friday, when he sent an e-mail to the team outlining his client's latest position.
Acquired in a trade that sent linebacker Takeo Spikes to Philadelphia in March, Walker has two years left on a contract that is scheduled to pay him $1.3 million this season and $1.4 million next year. As a condition of completing the trade, Walker made the Bills aware that he wanted a contract extension after he and the Eagles reached an impasse.
A seven-year NFL veteran, Walker has maintained he won't join the Bills until a new deal is completed, even if it means facing fines for not attending Buffalo's three-day minicamp, which opens Monday.
``If he doesn't have a new contract, he won't be there that's for sure,'' Irby said. ``And as far as we're concerned, if he's not there, well, they understand what we want. They know.''
Bills general manager Marv Levy said there was nothing new to report regarding Walker's contract status.
Coach Dick Jauron was hopeful Walker will be in attendance Monday.
``We anticipate that all of our guys under contract will be here for minicamp,'' Jauron said.
Walker has already missed 12 voluntary minicamp practices, and is well behind in learning the Bills defensive system and bonding with his new teammates. He's a key and experienced addition to a young defense that has lost three starters - Spikes, linebacker London Fletcher and cornerback Nate Clements.
An agile and penetrating tackle, Walker is considered a good fit for the Bills, who ask their defensive linemen to do more than just stop the run. He had 36 tackles and six sacks in 15 games last season, and added two sacks in a 27-24 loss to New Orleans in an NFC second-round playoff game.
He's also had 26 1/2 sacks over the past five years, fourth best among defensive tackles during that span.
Under NFL rules, the Bills would have the option to return Walker to Philadelphia if he doesn't report by Aug. 5. Buffalo would then receive a sixth-round pick in next year's draft as compensation.
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