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Bills catch depth with speedy Davis

The Buffalo Bills can use all the depth at receiver they can find, and they added some Sunday by signing speedster Andre' Davis.

Davis is a four-year NFL veteran whose production suggests he's a No. 4 receiver candidate. After three unsatisfying years with the Cleveland Browns, Davis saw spot duty last year with New England. He said he was encouraged to come to Buffalo by Bills quarterback Kelly Holcomb, his former teammate with the Browns.

"Kelly was probably the biggest influence on me coming here," Davis said. "He's a close friend of mine. He was recruiting me."

Davis, who will be 27 in June, signed a one-year deal with the Bills for a total of $1.3 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus and an $800,000 base salary.

Davis has size and speed. He's 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds coming out of Virginia Tech. That's as fast as the Bills' Lee Evans runs. Davis was the Browns' second-round draft pick in 2002, tak
en 11 spots after Josh Reed. Reed is a free agent and is not expected back with the Bills.

Davis never met expectations with the Browns, partly because he has been hampered by nagging foot and leg injuries throughout his career. Davis' best year for the Browns was in 2003 when he caught 40 passes for 576 yards. But that was his only fully healthy season. In four years, he has 102 catches for 1,602 yards and a 15.7-yard average.

The Patriots acquired him from Cleveland for a fifth-round draft choice last August. He suffered a foot injury shortly after the trade and finished with nine catches for 190 yards in nine games for the Pats.

Davis will have to prove he can stay healthy and be more than a straight-line threat.

"I know if I can get a healthy season together, I'm definitely going to be able to help the team out," Davis said.

"We like Andre'," said Bills General Manager Marv Levy. "He's a young player we feel is on the rise. He's an intelligent young man, and a guy with a lot of speed."

The addition of Davis completed a trifecta of signings for the Bills on the opening weekend of the free agency season. The Bills signed defensive tackle Larry Tripplett and tight end Robert Royal on Saturday. Levy credited Jim Overdorf, the team's vice president of football administration, with closing the deals.

"The job Jim Overdorf did in this process was eye-opening to me," Levy said. "It was just tremendous."

Meanwhile, the Bills also re-signed offensive lineman Greg Jerman to a two-year contract worth $1.27 million. Jerman started three games at right tackle in the first half of last season when Mike Williams was hurt.

Elsewhere, Bills free agent defensive tackle Justin Bannan got a big pay raise to sign with the Baltimore Ravens. Bannan, who played for $495,000 last year, signed a four-year deal worth $8 million, including a $3 million bonus. Bannan, a four-year veteran, started seven games at the end of last season after Sam Adams got into ex-coach Mike Mularkey's doghouse.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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