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After false start, Andre Holmes embracing opportunity with Bills

Andre Holmes was watching "The Office" last week when his phone started going crazy.

Text messages and Twitter notifications began buzzing left and right, welcoming the former Oakland Raiders' wide receiver to Buffalo. The only problem was, Holmes had yet to sign a contract with the Buffalo Bills.

"I know my agent was kind of discussing some terms with the Bills' personnel – nothing finalized or anything – just kind of negotiating," Holmes said Monday. "The way it works is the agent is supposed to send any type of proposal to the NFLPA and somehow, somewhere in there – I don't know exactly how it came out – someone said that I had signed."

That supposed deal, which was obtained by ESPN, was worth up to $4.5 million over three years. It was filed last week with the NFL Players' Association. Both Holmes and the Bills were quick to deny that an agreement had been signed.

"Whether it was paperwork, or mishandled paperwork, I'm not really sure," Holmes said. "I'll just kind of leave that to the NFLPA" to explain "what exactly happened. As far as my side, I just saw that there was a report that I signed and I just wanted to put out there nothing had happened yet, because my phone was ringing and that kind of stuff.

"It was pretty crazy. ... I was just kind sitting down watching 'The Office' and not understanding what was going on, because I didn't put any pen to paper or anything."

Three days later, however, Holmes and the Bills made things official – this time with a contract value that so far has not been disclosed.

"It was a great opportunity to come to Buffalo and compete," Holmes said Monday on a conference call with the Western New York media. "The opportunity to compete – to make a big impact on a team that is definitely on its way up, especially with the new coaching staff and everything – and then also the security of having a long-term deal, helps out with that, too. That's kind of where my mind was at as far as agreeing to terms with Buffalo."

It's a good thing for Holmes his original deal didn't go through. According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Holmes' new deal has a potential value of $5.15 million over three years. That's still a low-cost investment for the team on a player who could play a big role in the offense. As it stands on the roster today, Holmes would likely be penciled in as the No. 2 receiver behind Sammy Watkins. That shows just how thin the Bills are at the position – and makes adding a receiver in the first round of next month's draft a good possibility – but also speaks to the flashes of potential Holmes showed with the Raiders.

"I'm not really sure as far as where I'll be at on the depth chart," Holmes said. "There's a lot of days before we can really figure that before Week One. Really, all it is is just working hard and getting myself ready to be as successful as I can to help the team."

The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder caught 47 passes for 693 yards and four touchdowns for the Raiders in 2014. After Oakland added Amari Cooper in the draft and signed Michael Crabtree as a free agent, the 28-year-old Holmes was relegated to backup duty, catching just 14 passes each of the last two seasons. Seven of those catches went for touchdowns, however, showing that Holmes' size can be a weapon in the red zone.

"I feel like I can play all around the field," Holmes said. "I really learned to play the slot these past two years, backing up all three positions. I feel like I have an all-around game that can really help out the team."

The Bills had a player similar to Holmes last year in Justin Hunter – a lanky receiver who made plays near the end zone – but didn't do much else on the rest of the field. Hunter, who signed as a free agent with Pittsburgh, had 10 catches for Buffalo last year, four of which went for touchdowns. That's fine production for the fourth or even fifth wide receiver on a roster, but if Holmes is in the Bills' top three, they'll need numbers better than that.

"Every player in the NFL, from the top-paid player to No. 53 on the roster or even practice squad feels like they could get more opportunity and feels they could do more to help the team," he said. "You need to have the utmost confidence in your abilities. Basically that's how I feel. I can help the team a little bit more than maybe I had in the past two years. Every player feels that way, and I'm no different."

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