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Bills Re-sign Eric Moulds

February 17, 2001

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ Eric Moulds, one of the NFL’s best receivers the last three years, could have made millions more dollars on the free-agent market.

Instead, he chose to stay where he’s comfortable, re-signing with the Buffalo Bills on Friday.

``I didn’t really want to go on the free-agent market. Of course, I could’ve demanded more dollars,″ said Moulds, who was for free agency on March 2. ``But I wanted to be a part of an opportunity of something that was going to be big. ... This was the place I wanted to be, so it made my decision easy.″

Moulds, who set the franchise record with 94 receptions last season, agreed to a six-year deal worth between $40 million and $45 million. That includes a reported signing bonus of $12 million _ one of the highest for a player who elected to remain with the same team.

It’s still a considerable raise from the $950,000 base salary he made last year.

Despite salary-cap restraints, Bills president and general manager Tom Donahoe was pleased to have what he termed his No. 1 priority of the offseason out of the way.

``Eric wanted to be here. He wants to be a part of what we’re trying to build here. He’s made a commitment to us and we’ve made a commitment to him,″ Donahoe said. ``We’ve always believed that when a player wants to be somewhere, there’s always a way to get the deal done.″

Donahoe now turns his attention to his next priority, trying to re-sign defensive end Marcellus Wiley, who last season became only the fifth player in franchise history to record 10 or more sacks.

It won’t be easy. Before signing Moulds, the Bills were projected to be about $13 million over the salary cap.

They will be forced to cut several players, including one of their top two quarterbacks _ Rob Johnson or Doug Flutie.

A promising sign is that Wiley, on his own volition, visited the Bills’ Orchard Park offices on Thursday to meet with Donahoe and the rest of the team’s new coaching staff.

``I don’t think anything’s pie in the sky,″ Donahoe said when asked if it’s unrealistic to re-sign Wiley.

There’s hope, too, that Moulds’ willingness to stay might rub off on other players.

Moulds said he polled other players around the league before coming to a decision on Buffalo.

``I had a number of guys tell me, ’Stay,‴ Moulds said. ``I talked to a number of guys that stayed in the same setting and they said, ’Make your decision easy and stay where you belong. ... Why go somewhere else and try to start over?‴

He’s especially excited about the Bills’ new coaching staff, headed by Gregg Williams, who intends to introduce the pass-oriented West Coast offense.

Moulds, a first-round draft pick in 1996, has been a starter the last three years. He has 3,688 receiving yards, fourth among all NFL receivers during that span.

His 1,326 yards receiving last year fell 32 yards short of matching the franchise record he set in 1998.

He also had seven 100-yard games last season and extended his streak to 49 consecutive games with at least one catch, the longest in team history.

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