Bills to release Bledsoe, make Losman starting QB
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Unwilling to accept a secondary role with the Buffalo Bills, quarterback Drew Bledsoe is seeking a new team for another shot at
being a starter.
Granting Bledsoe's request to be cut, the Bills announced Wednesday they will waive the 12-year veteran Feb. 22, the first day NFL teams are allowed
to officially release players. The decision came after the Bills informed him last week of their plans to give the starting job to J.P. Losman,
Buffalo's second of two first-round draft choices last year.
"I completely disagree and can't understand their point of view," Bledsoe said during a conference call from his home in Oregon. "Do I think this is
fair? No, I don't think it's fair. But I'm also aware that that's how it works, and I understand that."
And it's nothing against Losman.
"I just don't see myself being a backup in this league," Bledsoe said. "If it comes to that, you'll probably see me just tip my hat and head back to
Describing it as "a sad day," the 33-year-old wrapped up an inconsistent three-year tenure with Buffalo in which he started all 48 games. Bills
president Tom Donahoe credited Bledsoe for helping turn around a team that was 3-13 before Buffalo acquired him for a first-round draft pick in a deal
with New England in April 2002.
"When Drew came here, we were in a big black hole with this football team. And he certainly helped us get out of that," Donahoe said. "He brought
respectability back to the Bills, and he brought credibility to our football team."
What Bledsoe didn't bring was enough victories, finishing 23-25 with the Bills, or lead the team to its first postseason berth since 1999. They came
close last season at 9-7, when the team was eliminated from contention with a season-ending loss to Pittsburgh.
Bledsoe's declining passing numbers and lack of mobility led the Bills to turn to Losman. Selected 22nd overall out of Tulane, Losman is a
strong-armed and fleet-footed player who made four mop-up appearances after missing the first half of last season with a broken left leg.
The injury and the Bills' late-season playoff run, in which they won six of their last seven, prevented the team from giving Losman more opportunities
last year, Donahoe said.
"He helped us get to a good level," Donahoe said of Bledsoe. "We want to go beyond that level."
Coach Mike Mularkey said Losman's strong arm and scrambling ability are better suited for his multidimensional offensive philosophy.
"We have a lot of confidence in J.P.," Mularkey said. "This is obviously a big decision, but this happens every year."
Bledsoe, who led the Patriots to the Super Bowl after the 1996 season, was traded to Buffalo after losing his job to Tom Brady in 2001. Brady has led
the Patriots to NFL titles in three of the last four seasons and was the MVP in two Super Bowls.
Bledsoe set 10 franchise passing records and earned his fourth Pro Bowl selection in his first season with the Bills before his numbers began to
He has gone 30 straight games without throwing for 300 or more yards, and finished last season with 2,932 yards passing, 20 touchdowns and 16
interceptions, and had a mediocre passer rating of 76.6.
He will be one of several veteran quarterbacks on the market: Cleveland is releasing Jeff Garcia and Kurt Warner is leaving the New York Giants.
Bledsoe said Dallas would be a possible spot for him. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells chose him for New England with the first overall pick in the 1993
draft. The Bills have given him permission to negotiate with other teams.
Saying he briefly considered retiring, Bledsoe is itching to find a new place to play.
"I'm very excited about what the future holds," Bledsoe said. "I don't know where I'm going to land, but I'm going to land someplace, and you'll see
me on the field next year."
He had two years left on a contract he restructured a year ago, scheduled to pay him $4.3 million next season, including a $1.05 million bonus due
next month. By releasing him, the Bills will save $2.2 million in cap space.
[Edited on 2/17/2005 by Gibbs Baby!!!]