BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Chalk up yet another win for the New England Patriots over the AFC East-rival Buffalo Bills.
This time, in free agency.
A person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Friday night that the Bills won’t match the three-year, $12 million offer sheet receiver Chris Hogan signed with New England earlier in the day. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills have not announced their decision.
Hogan was a restricted free agent whose rights were retained by the Bills on Monday, when they tendered him an NFL-minimum $1.67 million contract.
The Bills technically had five days to match the Patriots’ offer, but such a move was considered difficult for Buffalo because the team has little room left under the salary cap.
And the Patriots — who have won 27 of the past 30 meetings on the field against Buffalo — didn’t make it easy for the Bills.
A second person, who is familiar with New England’s offer, told The AP that the deal was structured so that Hogan’s contract would count $5.5 million against the payroll this season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms were not announced publicly.
The Bills were projected to have just under $5 million of space left under the cap after re-signing starting left guard Richie Incognito on Tuesday and after starting left tackle Cordy Glenn signed his franchise offer last week.
Hogan completed his third season in Buffalo and finished fourth on the team with 36 catches for 450 yards and two touchdowns. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Hogan has speed to play on the outside, and has been fearless in making catches over the middle. He also has special teams experience.
Hogan’s departure further depletes the Bills’ depth at receiver behind starters Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods.
The Patriots have a need at the position after their Tom Brady-led passing attack last season was hampered by injuries to several wide receivers and lacked a dependable threat behind tight end Rob Gronkowski.
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