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McGahee covets new deal Agent says Bills RB deserves extension

Willis McGahee has been one of the best running backs in the NFL over the past three seasons. Now his agent believes he should be paid accordingly.

Drew Rosenhaus said getting McGahee a contract extension will be "a high priority" this offseason.

"Willis has been a very productive player for the Buffalo Bills," Rosenhaus said from his Miami office. "He has played through injuries. He's worked hard. He has been a good teammate. I think he deserves a new contract and we will vigorously pursue that this offseason."

Rosenhaus said he approached the Bills about an extension earlier this year, but added those talks were just preliminary. He hopes more intensive discussions will take place once the season is over.

McGahee still has one year left on the five-year deal he signed as a rookie in 2003. He was due to make $905,000 in base salary next season, but Rosenhaus indicated that McGahee has hit some escalators that increase his pay significantly in 2007.

Rosenhaus gave no indication what kind of contract he would seek for his client, but he is sure to go after one that is far more lucrative than McGahee's previous deal. Another Rosenhaus client, running back Edgerrin James, received a four-year, $30 million contract from Arizona last year.

"With any negotiations, there are no guarantees," Rosenhaus said. "We hope that the Bills will be willing to sit down with us and work something out."

It remains to be seen if the Bills will have the 25-year-old McGahee high on their offseason to-do list. He is under contract and the team has to address several players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after this season.

Bills General Manager Marv Levy declined comment, saying he wants to keep the focus this week on Sunday's game at Baltimore.

McGahee's thoughts are on playing the Ravens as well, but the idea of getting a new contract has definitely crossed his mind.

"No doubt about it," he said. "I think I'm due. I don't know if [the Bills] will do something or not. We'll just have to see. What I've done here should speak for itself."

The Bills drafted McGahee in the first round in April 2003 after he had suffered three torn ligaments in his left knee during the University of Miami's upset loss to Ohio State at the Fiesta Bowl in January.

After sitting out his rookie year, McGahee moved ahead of Travis Henry as the Bills' starting running back early in the 2004 season and finished with 1,128 yards -- 14th highest in the league -- and 13 touchdowns in just 11 starts.

McGahee added 1,247 yards last year (10th in the league) and needs just 33 yards to become the third player in Bills history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. His 967 yards rank 23rd in the NFL.

"Willis has overcome a lot to become one of the best running backs in the NFL," Rosenhaus said. "When you look at what he has done for this franchise, I think he should be rewarded for that."

Rosenhaus did not broach the subject of a possible holdout if a new contract agreement isn't reached, but that is a possibility.

For now though, Rosenhaus is remaining optimistic that it won't come to that.

"We have always had a great relationship with the Bills," he said. "I have a lot of confidence in the people in that organization. We're going to work together on this and hopefully we'll get something done."

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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