Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott were largely silent Monday about Richie Incognito.
The Buffalo Bills' general manager and coach largely sidestepped any questions about the team's former left guard, who announced his retirement last week.
"Um, you know, not going to really get into detail," Beane said. "Richie's on the reserve/retired list, which is not a part of our 90-man roster. That's really where we're at."
Incognito has been on a Twitter rampage lately, saying that he was going to end his retirement, then asking the Bills to release him from his contract – by contacting the agency that he allegedly fired.
Beane said Incognito would have to request through the commissioner to be reinstated if he did want to play again – although it's fair to wonder if the team would even be interested after his recent avalanche of tweets.
"I don't think it's really the time to get into it," Beane said when asked about Incognito's behavior on social media. "Let's leave it as is. Sean and I would like to focus on any draft questions you've got, or players that are here on the 90-man."
Beane did say the losses of Incognito – center Eric Wood, who was forced to retire due to a neck injury – and left tackle Cordy Glenn does not change how they will approach next week's draft.
"Not to our draft strategy, no," Beane said. "There's all sorts of surprises that happen. I can't say that Sean or I had an idea that those three changes would all happen when we walked off the field in Jacksonville, but you're constantly having to adapt and adjust.
"It's like a guy going down for injury. What's our next-best avenue? Who's out there? ... We're always going to continue to try and fill those roles. We tried to do some things in (free agency). We brought in Marshall Newhouse and Russell Bodine, so we did fill a couple of those. And then we've got some guys on the roster that we're happy with, and we've got the draft."
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The Bills added some depth to their roster with the signings of wide receiver Jeremy Kerley and defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi. Both players got one-year contracts, according to the team.
Kerley, 29, spent last season with the New York Jets, making 22 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown in eight games. It was his second stint with the Jets. He spent 2016 with the San Francisco 49ers, making a career-high 64 catches for 667 yards and three touchdowns.
"He’s a guy that I’ve gone up against in terms of coaching against him," McDermott said. "I know what he brought to the table from a wide receiver position. He’s a veteran player, also adds some return ability. I thought it was a good signing for us, and again, my hat goes off to Brandon and his staff identifying Jeremy out there."
A 5-foot-9, 188-pounder, Kerley has primarily worked out of the slot in his seven-year career. He also has experience as a punt returner. His first career return for a touchdown came in 2012 against the Bills, on a 68-yard runback.
Kerley served a four-game NFL suspension last season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Kerley said in a statement that he tested positive for Turinabol, adding that he was "shocked" because he's "never knowingly taken any banned substances."
Upon returning from his suspension, Kerley offered up this interesting explanation for how he failed the drug test: "I don't know," Kerley told reporters, according to NorthJersey.com. "There's a lot of ghosts around here. Ghost put it in there. You know, the ghost of Christmas past? ... I don't know."
Palepoi, 27, is a fifth-year veteran who spent the previous four seasons with the Chargers. He set a career high with 24 tackles, including seven for a loss, in 2017. The 6-1, 298-pounder played on the same Utah defensive line as new Bills teammate Star Lotulelei in 2012.
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Wide receiver Zay Jones took part in the team's first day of offseason conditioning Monday.
"We did have some communication with Zay when we got back and to this point, we are satisfied with where that is," McDermott said, referencing the wide receiver's bizarre arrest last month in Los Angeles. "The biggest thing right now is where we go moving forward and how we handle our business moving forward. Listen, people go through situations and, like I said before, I was disappointed. The biggest thing is that we were able to talk about it and come to a point where we all agree we need to move forward. I’m excited about the future for Zay."
Jones had offseason shoulder surgery and isn't back to 100 percent just yet, the coach said.
Fellow wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin also took part in the first day of conditioning after offseason knee surgery.
"He looks like he’s ready to go," McDermott said. "Like the rest of our offensive players, getting familiar with a new scheme, the new system, so that was exciting. It was good to see today as we move forward as an offense, too."
Benjamin is entering the final year of his contract, but Beane said there have not been any discussions about an extension.
"Right now, we’re happy he’s here and showed up and was out there working with everybody else," he said. "That’s really where it’s at; the focus right now is on the draft."
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Tight ends Nick O'Leary and Logan Thomas, cornerback Lafayette Pitts and defensive end Eddie Yarbrough all signed their one-year contract offers as exclusive rights free agents.
Exclusive rights free agents are those whose contracts have expired and who have less than three years of NFL experience. A team can keep the rights to such a player simply by extending a qualifying offer, which is usually for the league minimum salary. It's no surprise that the Bills did so with their four such players.
O'Leary, 25, served as the No. 2 tight end behind Charles Clay in 2017, finishing with 22 catches for 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Thomas, 26, played in 12 games and had seven catches for 67 yards and one touchdown.
Yarbrough, 24, was a pleasant surprise in training camp and earned a spot in the defensive line rotation. He appeared in all 16 games and finished with 34 tackles, including four for losses, one sack and seven quarterback hits.
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Linebacker is high on the Bills' list of needs heading into next week's NFL Draft.
The team is acting like that's true by hosting some of the top prospects on pre-draft visits. The latest of those is Alabama's Rashaan Evans. Matt Zenitz of al.com reported Monday that Evans will make visits this week with the Bills, Bengals and Saints, bringing to nine the number of teams he's had such stops with.
Evans was a second-team All-Southeastern Conference selection in 2017 after starting 12 games and finishing with 74 tackles, including a team-leading 13 for losses, six sacks and three passes defensed. Evans had to sit behind players like Reuben Foster and former Bills draft pick Reggie Ragland early in his Alabama career, but played as a true freshman in 2014, mostly on special teams. He had two sacks in the 2015 national championship game against Clemson, but still only made two starts in 2016 – both coming in BCS playoff games.
Evans is viewed as a first-round prospect, according to his nfl.com scouting report, and could be an option for the Bills if they keep pick No. 22. Buffalo still does not have an obvious replacement for last year's starting middle linebacker, Preston Brown, on its roster.
"That’s a tough question without giving up competitively what I think of that position group in the draft," Beane said Monday when asked if it might be tough to fill the hole at middle linebacker next week. We do understand and do realize that Preston was our starter all year and is not here. I get it; you’d love to come out of here with a guy you felt good with that can do that, but even if we don’t, I mentioned earlier, we don’t play meaningful football until September. We’ll find an answer."
The Bills have now used 19 of their allotted 30 pre-draft visits, according to various media reports.
Story topics: Brandon Beane/ Charles Clay/ Eddie Yarbrough/ Jeremy Kerley/ Kelvin Benjamin/ Lafayette Pitts/ Logan Thomas/ Nick O'Leary/ Preston Brown/ Rashaan Evans/ Richie Incognito/ Sean McDermott/ Tenny Palepoi/ Zay Jones