Kelsay Contract Puzzling

On Wednesday, the Bills announced that they had extended Chris Kelsay’s contract for four years at $24 million. This makes me wonder what the Bills’ front office has been doing on Sundays when the Bills are playing are defense.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback David Garrard #9 of the Jacksonville Jaguars breaks a tackle attempt by defensive end Chris Kelsay #90 of the Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on September 14, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bills defeated the Jaguars 20-16. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

This is how to make $6 million on the Bills

When Chris Kelsay got his $23 million contract four years ago, I couldn’t quite understand why the Bills had paid so much for a rotational defensive end who had recorded a career-high 5.5 sacks. I suppose I rationalized that the Bills had a very good defense, and that they must have felt that Kelsay was a young player whose best years were still yet to come.

It seemed I had made a more accurate assessment of Kelsay than the Bills did, as his sack totals the past three seasons were 2.5, 2.0 and 5.0, respectively. Sometimes teams misread what they have, and talk themselves into overvaluing players on the roster. At least 2010 marked the last season the Bills would have to pay Kelsay his $6 million salary. They could resign him at a reasonable rate, maybe half that salary, if he fit in to the Bills’ new defensive scheme, and could remain a solid rotational player.

Three games into the season, Kelsay has not recorded a sack, has failed to show the ability to cover the slowest-footed fullbacks, and appears to be even less effective rushing the passer with his hand off the ground as an outside linebacker. He went from an average defensive end to a albatross of an outside linebacker. Kelsay went from having no impact on games as a 4-3 defense end to being a glaring weak spot as a 3-4 OLB. The Bills’ linebackers are easily the weakest part of the defense, and the main reason they have played two (out of three) awful defensive games this season. It is unfortunate when you run a defense that features linebackers when you don’t have any good ones.

Leave it to the Bills to solve this problem by re-upping with a player who is worthless to their scheme, and a big reason they are struggling. They wanted to save themselves the trouble of having to once again outbid themselves to keep Kelsay. For a team that is in the bottom quarter of the league in player salaries, dumping $6 million on a bad player is a big setback.

I know the big news this week for the Bills was the release of (and claiming of by the Jaguars) Trent Edwards, but I already had a feeling Trent was done in Buffalo. He didn’t work out, the Bills benched him, and appeared to show they were getting rid of players who were ineffective holdovers from the previous regime. Even if you were puzzled by how quickly Edwards went from a starter to being released, it appeared that the Bills were working on trying to build a roster with effective players who fit their system. Fortunately, for all those Bills’ fans who were starting to fear potential changes, you need not worry. It looks like the Bills are still up to their old tricks.

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