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Bills Mailbag: Hard to see Cassel sticking as mentor only

You’ve got Bills questions/comments that you submit to me via Twitter, @viccarucci, and e-mail, at, and I have answers.

Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

@YoungZP says: “In your opinion, is there any merit to the ‘veteran mentor QB’ argument for retaining Matt Cassel? I’m not buying it.”

I say: I’m not, either, at least with a current cap number of $4.75 million. That’s a whole lot of cap space to devote to a backup.

I believe the Bills acquired Cassel in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings last March with the intention of making him their starter. Furthermore, I would fully expect the Bills to extend Cassel’s contract to provide cap relief if they are convinced he will have the job. The fact that hasn’t happened and that there is no indication of it happening any time soon after his struggles through the offseason raise some legitimate questions about whether he will be on the roster if he isn’t starting.

That said, I do think Cassel is perfectly hard wired to be the consummate veteran mentor backup to EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor or any younger starter. He is a true professional who knows how to suppress his ego and do what’s right for the team.

But do the Bills value that enough to tie up nearly $5 million in cap space on the guy? I tend to doubt it.

@McKennaEcon:Do you think Marcell Dareus extension gets done between now and camp?”

I say: I don’t know about camp, which begins July 31. Jim Overdorf and the rest of the Bills’ football business operation are pretty much getting in some well-deserved rest and relaxation, which will likely last until well into July.

I do suspect, however, that something will get done before the start of the regular season, because General Manager Doug Whaley has told me that an extension for Dareus is a priority.

@buffaloSOX22 says: “Who will be the corner on the opposite side of Stephon Gilmore?”

I say: Leodis McKelvin.

He was having a strong season last year, the strongest of his NFL career, until he suffered a broken ankle. He gives Rex Ryan the solid, fast, athletic corner he needs to play his high-risk, blitz-oriented defense. Ryan is convinced Gilmore will consistently become that sort of player as well.

In the meantime, the Bills expect second-round draft pick Ronald Darby to develop into a top-flight player at the position after likely spending his rookie season as a slot defensive back.

@emjay716 says: “Any news on Jim Kelly working in the front office now that he’s healthy? Has Terry Pegula given up on hiring a football czar? What are the chances Andre Reed lands a coaching job here or elsewhere?”

I say: To the best of my knowledge, there are no plans for Kelly to take a job in the front office. I think he will continue to remain in his role as a goodwill ambassador for the team.

However, I don’t see him becoming involved with making decisions about player-personnel, if that’s what you mean, the same way another Hall-of-Fame quarterback, John Elway, does as general manager and executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos.

I believe, at least for the time being, Terry and Kim Pegula are not seeking to hire a so-called football czar and that Whaley will continue to oversee the player-personnel department.

I don’t know that Reed has much of a chance of being hired full-time by the Bills after serving his Bill Walsh minority coaching internship this summer because Ryan believes he has one of the very best receivers coaches in the business in Sanjay Lal.

But it does seem possible that if Reed does a good enough job with the Bills, he could parlay that into an opportunity with another team. From what I understand, he did solid work in his previous coaching internship with the Kansas City Chiefs.

@RDQ_geography: “Do you think they’re grooming Seantrel Henderson to be LT if they lose Cordy Glenn in free agency?”

I say: I don’t know if “grooming” is the right word, although the coaches clearly had that at least partly in mind by giving Henderson repeated looks at left tackle during OTA practices while Glenn worked on the right side.

I think the primary reason for the flip-flopping that Glenn and Henderson did was to prepare for the possibility of having Henderson fill in at left tackle in the event Glenn wasn’t available due to injury or any other reason.

Henderson needs to work his way out of the doghouse of Ryan and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer for failing to attend the first day of mandatory minicamp because of a missed flight before any serious thoughts can be given to making him a starter at left tackle.

@TCBILLS_Astro: “What does Chris Gragg have to do in training camp to secure a TE spot? Can the Bills realistically keep 4 RBs, 4 TEs, and 6 WRs?”

I say: Consistently get open, catch the ball, and develop into a solid blocker.

Other than Charles Clay already securing the starting role, tight end is easily the most wide-open area of the roster. And Gragg has as good a chance as anyone of winning the No. 2 spot … or, perhaps, failing to make the team. He will have the opportunity to do one or the other.

I do think it’s possible they could keep the numbers you mentioned at running back, tight end, and wide receiver. But if one area were to have one fewer player, it would probably be receiver. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman LOVES his tight ends, and has formations that call for three to be on the field at the same time.


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