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Moulds may head to Texans

Eric Moulds got one foot out the door of the Buffalo Bills' organization Thursday but his departure is not likely to be finalized until early next week.

Moulds reached an agreement on the framework of a contract with the Houston Texans, sources in Houston told The News. That's only half of the process, however. Houston still must get the Bills to agree on the compensation they will pay to finalize the trade.

No completion of the deal was expected until Monday at the earliest. The Texans have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and their top football executives all are heading to Los Angeles this weekend for the pro-day workout at the University of Southern California on Sunday. Southern Cal running back Reggie Bush is the favorite to be Houston's No. 1 pick.

The trade could fall through if the Bills and Texans can't agree on payment. It's believed the Bills are seeking a fourth-round draft pick, and the Texans are offering a fifth. The Bills currently have nine picks in the draft. They have an extra third-rounder from last year's Travis Henry trade and an extra seventh-rounder, which is a compensatory pick for last year's free-agent losses.

The parameters of Moulds' deal with Houston are four years and roughly $14 million, with a signing bonus of $5 million, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Moulds' New Orleans-based representative, Greg Johnson, declined to comment on the terms and said the contract was not finalized. However, he said, "I feel like we're close enough to where I'd be shocked if there was a deal-breaker [on the contract]."

Moulds is taking up $10.8 million in cap space on the Bills' books. He is due to receive $7.1 million in cash from the Bills this year. The Bills offered him a contract that included a pay cut that would have allowed him to finish his career in Buffalo. However, after 10 seasons that saw him play under four head coaches, six offensive coordinators and nine starting quarterbacks, Moulds is eager for a fresh start somewhere else.

Philadelphia also was interested in Moulds, but the Eagles apparently were not willing to come close to Houston's contract terms.

The Texans were 2-14 last season. The Bills' pass offense ranked 29th, 27th and 28th the past three years. Houston's ranked 30th, 18th and 29th.

However, Johnson said he sees a lot of upside in the Texans.

"That offense has the potential to explode," Johnson said. "The No. 1 thing Eric truly believes is he can go there and help them win. He would play opposite a Pro Bowl receiver in Andre Johnson. The geographic thing doesn't hurt. He will be close to home [in Mississippi] and more friends and family can watch. And we think they will pay fair-market value."

The Bills would save $5.5 million against the cap by getting rid of Moulds. He still would count $5.3 million on this year's books. The Bills are about $9 million under the cap, not counting the Moulds savings, according to News estimates.

Moulds ranks second in Bills history in both catches (675) and yards (9,096).

The seeds for Moulds' contract impasse were set last March, when he restructured his contract and extended it a year, through 2007. Both Moulds and the Bills knew at the time that his cap number would be too high this year and they would have to go back to the bargaining table this offseason if he was going to remain a Bill.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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