ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (Feb. 26, 2007) -- Defensive end Chris Kelsay signed a four-year contract with the Buffalo Bills, avoiding the uncertainty of becoming an unrestricted free agent.
A second-round draft pick in 2003 out of Nebraska, Kelsay emerged as one of the Bills' top defensive linemen last season. Starting all 16 games for the second successive season, he had career highs in tackles (88) and sacks (5½), finishing third on the team in sacks and sixth in tackles.
"Relieved, excited, it's just kind of an overwhelming feeling right now because Buffalo really exceeded my expectations and really did their part to get me back here," Kelsay said. "The stress that comes along with free agency and not knowing what lies ahead ... that's all over and done with. It's a huge sigh of relief."
It's also a relief for the Bills, who managed to retain at least one of their top three defensive players eligible to become free agents March 2. Buffalo is unlikely to re-sign cornerback Nate Clements, who is seeking a contract too expensive for the Bills to afford. Middle linebacker London Fletcher is also expected to test the market.
Kelsay is confident the Bills can overcome the potential free-agent losses and build on their 7-9 finish under first-year head coach Dick Jauron.
"You hate to lose guys like that," Kelsay said. "But I've said from the bye week from last season on, that we made some great strides, and if we can continue to do that ... who knows, I think we've got a very bright future here this next year."
Kelsay has proven to be a solid complement to right defensive end Aaron Schobel, the Bills' top pass-rusher. Kelsay had a sack in each of the Bills' first three games in 2006, had a season-high six tackles against Chicago on Oct. 8, and matched that total the following week against Detroit.
The 27-year-old Kelsay has started 41 of his 64 career games. He has 177 tackles, 12½ sacks, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions during his four years with Buffalo.
The Associated Press News Service
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