|Bills not sure if LT Peters will report to camp|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 24 July 2008 12:39|
``To be very honest with you, it's truly been a roadmap of silence to date,'' chief operating officer Russ Brandon said Thursday, as Bills players began arriving at the team's training camp headquarters in suburban Rochester. ``We expect Jason to be here to honor his commitment to the organization because we made a substantial commitment to him two years ago.''
Brandon said he's not sure whether Peters will report or elect to continue holding out for a new deal after the player was fined $8,638 for missing the team's two mandatory minicamp practices last month. Peters risks an even heftier fine of more than $15,000 for each day he misses training camp.
Bills players have until midnight Thursday to report, with the team's first practice scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Entering his fifth NFL season, Peters has three years left on his current deal and is scheduled to make a base salary of $3.25 million this season, which is considered low for someone playing such a prominent position. His deal ranks third among Bills offensive linemen, behind left guard Derrick Dockery and right tackle Langston Walker, both acquired in free agency last year.
Peters has not commented publicly regarding his dispute. His agents, Eugene Parker and Vincent Taylor, did not return numerous messages left with them by The Associated Press over the past two days.
Parker also represents Bills second-round pick receiver James Hardy, who has yet to sign his rookie contract. Brandon said he's had some discussions with Parker regarding Peters, but noted most of the talk has centered on Hardy.
Brandon said he anticipates Hardy to sign a deal prior to start of training camp. He also expressed hope that first-round pick cornerback Leodis McKelvin will sign prior to the team's first practice.
As for Peters, Brandon wouldn't rule out the possibility of negotiating a new deal but only if Peters begins taking part in team functions.
``It's difficult to have discussions with someone that's not here and has not elected to participate in what we're trying to do,'' Brandon said. ``Jason's a big part of what we're trying to do. But if he's not here, then we'll work around it and move on.''
Brandon also noted the team rewarded the player with a new contract prior to the 2006 season, when the converted tight end became a full-time starter at right tackle. Peters then made the switch to the left side midway through the 2006 campaign.
Offensive coordinator Turk Schonert said last month he's already preparing contingency plans should Peters not report to camp. One option included moving Walker to the left side.
Peters' continued absence would be a significant setback for an offensive line that discovered its chemistry last season following the free-agent additions of Dockery and Walker. Besides helping rookie running back Marshawn Lynch finish with 1,115 yards rushing, the unit allowed only 26 sacks - the fewest in a 16-game season since Buffalo allowed 16 in 1981.
Dockery said he's confident the dispute will eventually be resolved and won't be a distraction.
``It doesn't concern me. ... If he's here, he's here. If he's not, he's not, so we'll just have to move forward,'' Dockery said. ``I believe when Jason gets back, he'll be ready. He's one of the top elite tackles in the game. I think that'll take care of itself.''