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Bills owner Terry Pegula: 'We have to keep it going'

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Terry Pegula acknowledges a weight was lifted when the Buffalo Bills ended a 17-year playoff drought last season.

"Mostly, off the fans' shoulders," the team owner said Tuesday while talking with reporters from Western New York and Toronto at the NFL's annual meeting. "You've got to feel good for our fans. Now, we've got to keep it going."

To that end, the Bills have been filling roster spots through free agency and are preparing for next month's draft. The focus is what they will do at quarterback, and Pegula said he has joined coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane in their evaluation of the top prospects.

Pegula answered a question about whether the Bills would try to move up in the draft even if it meant giving up a bounty of picks by saying, "I'm going to pretend I'm playing poker with you."

However, he acknowledged that he has done some of his own evaluation.

"I like looking at young athletes, whether it be my daughter (Jessie) playing tennis, football players, hockey players," Pegula said. "I enjoy talking to these young adults and trying to evaluate them. ... The guys I was present talking to, very impressive, really good, classy young guys.

"I'm an engineer, so I understand science, so I'm really into numbers. When I see something that I don't understand or I want clarified, obviously I talk to them. But I bring stuff up to them. I've got my stopwatch out, timing passes as best as I can. ... I like to do the science part of it. I contribute whatever I can, either analytically, mathematically, into anything we do. I like to get involved that way."

He made a point of complimenting the two quarterbacks the Bills have, AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman.

"Nathan, (since) last year, he's grown a lot," Pegula said. "He's a smart, young man, good person. Without tipping our hand in what we're going to do in the draft, we look at all positions. It could be a quarterback, but we're not in as bad a shape as you might think we are at that position right now."

Pegula touched on other topics:

(On what he has learned so far about Beane): "Brandon has got a very unique way of dealing with people. He ribs you. We get along really well. He's a good guy, very thorough, very thorough. The most impressive thing I think that we accomplished is him and Coach are joined at the hip and at the head. They think alike and they're both very thorough people. They can make instantaneous decisions, like a coach has to during a game, but they also think stuff out to the point where you say, 'Wow! These guys are very thorough.' You would think a football coach couldn't think like that, because everything is instantaneous during a game, but he's also a deep-thinker and goes through, as you guys would call it, the process."

(On how much discussion there has been during the meeting about player protests during the national anthem): "Obviously, a lot of that, or most of it, is privileged. We are working toward a resolution. The players, the owners, coaching staff, our management, we all love our country. And it's a tough, tough situation and we're working toward a resolution, hopefully, soon."

(On his wife and Bills co-owner, Kim Pegula, mentioning the need for a "compromise" between players and management during her recent appearance at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in February): "Some people voice themselves differently than I would, I do different things than you would about something that's bothering us. I respect my players, I respect the players' union. We'll try to get a solution that all Americans are happy with."

(On officiating head Al Riveron saying Kelvin Benjamin TD he took away vs. Patriots last season would be a TD under new catch rule): "Did Al say that? I wish he had said it back during the game. What are my feelings? Hey, you missed one, Al."

'This build is taking time,' McDermott says of Bills' offseason

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