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Evans deal reverberates through Bills

Lee Evans already has a good idea how he's going to spend part of his new multimillion dollar contract.

Here's a hint: It's going to make his wife very happy.

"Our [first] anniversary is coming up next week, so I'll probably do something for that," Evans said after practice Friday. "That'll probably be the first purchase."

The Buffalo Bills may have spent their money wisely as well by signing their star wide receiver to a four-year extension that will lock him up through 2012.

The actual annual average of Evans' contract is open to interpretation. Agents like to count only the extension, while NFL management prefers to combine the extension plus the existing year as part of the deal.

So from the Bills' standpoint, Evans' total package is five years and a maximum of $38.2 million, which brings the average to $7.64 million. But according to an NFL source, the four-year extension alone is worth $37.3 million with an average of $9.3 million.

No matter how you look at it, the deal is a good one for the Bills and Evans.

The Bills are now assured of having their best wideout during his peak years. And with the cost of free agent contracts soaring each offseason, Evans' asking price might have gone up if he maintains the productive pace he's set this season.

The Bills also saved themselves the trouble of trying to replace Evans in the unlikely event they allowed him to enter the free agent market after the season. The odds of them finding a comparable player in free agency or the draft were not good.

This signing also sends a message that the Bills are committed to keeping their talented young nucleus together.

They extended the contracts of defensive tackle Kyle Williams and right guard Brad Butler this summer; they extended the deals of defensive ends Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay and punter Brian Moorman last year. Next on the list probably is left tackle Jason Peters, who ended his lengthy holdout after receiving assurances from the Bills that they would discuss the possibility of reworking his contract.

"I think it speaks mounds of the organization and their commitment to building a core group of guys that they believe can win and that they want to move forward with," Evans said. "I think it sends a message around the locker room that if you're committed to playing here and winning here, and doing it the right way, the team can be committed to you as well."

This contract gives Evans the long-term security he was looking for, and pays him a salary that's on par with most of the top receivers in the NFL.

By not signing a longer-term extension, the 27-year-old Evans has positioned himself for another big payday if he's still playing at a high level four years from now.

"Yeah, I think I deserve it," Evans said when asked if he's worthy of such a big contract. "I can't sit up here and say that it's just numbers. It's certainly special, and I'm just trying to do my part and do all that I can to continue to be the player I've been."

The long negotiations obviously didn't distract Evans, who is off to the best start of his career. He is second in the AFC with 332 yards and his six 20-yard receptions are tied for the most in the AFC.

"Lee, as you all know, is really a quality guy," head coach Dick Jauron said. "He's great for our football team. He's a tremendous player, he produces on the field, he practices hard, and he's a two-time elected captain of our football team which I think says a good deal about how his teammates feel about him. [I'm] just really pleased with the whole situation."

No one is happier than second-year quarterback Trent Edwards, who is the biggest on-the-field beneficiary of Evans' extension. They have developed into an impressive pass-catch duo this season. Now that they are assured of being together for another four years, Edwards believes their chemistry will only get better.

"It's exciting," Edwards said. "I feel like we've come a long way. Working together this offseason and through these four games, I feel like we've developed something that I think this organization respects and seeing that, I think they're rewarding a very valuable commodity to this team."


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