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DT Walker prepared for free agency

BUFFALO, N.Y. (June 20, 2007) -- From Philadelphia to Buffalo and potentially back again: Defensive tackle Darwin Walker is prepared for anything -- even becoming a free agent in August -- after contract talks with the Bills reached an impasse June 20.

"Whether we're done talking, I don't want to go that far," Walker's agent, Albert Irby, told The Associated Press after talks broke down. "I've got to hope they change their mind, because I can tell you we're not changing ours."

And that could mean Walker's tenure with the Bills might be a short one in what is quickly becoming one of the team's most convoluted and unusual acquisitions.

A seven-year veteran, Walker was acquired by the Bills in March as part of a trade that sent Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes to Philadelphia.

Walker has two years left on his contract, but has yet to report to the Bills after stipulating Buffalo negotiate a new deal.

The Bills, however, included a clause in the trade in which they would receive a sixth-round draft pick and return Walker to Philadelphia if the player didn't report by Aug. 5.

Barring a breakthrough, Irby believes the Bills will have no choice but to send Walker back to the Eagles, at which point he expects Philadelphia to release his client.

The Bills were not immediately available for comment. The Eagles, meanwhile, have yet to discuss their intentions should they reacquire Walker.

Bills general manager Marv Levy said earlier this month that the team was prepared to move on without Walker.

Talks broke down after Irby said he rejected the Bills' latest offer of a one-year, $1.3 million deal. That's what Walker was scheduled to be paid this season under his current contract, which was to also pay him $1.4 million in 2008.

Irby said he's open to a one-year deal, but not for that kind of money.

"It doesn't make any sense," he said. "At $1.3 million, Darwin would be the lowest-paid five-year starter in the league."

Walker has 26 1/2 sacks over the past five years, making him the fourth-most productive defensive tackle during that span. He's also an agile and penetrating tackle who would fit the Bills' defensive scheme.

Irby said he's confident Walker will receive better offers in free agency even in August, when most teams are a week or two into training camp and their rosters relatively set.

Walker faced being fined by Buffalo for missing the team's three mandatory minicamps earlier this month.

"It's left me disappointed," Irby said, noting most teams have restructured contracts when acquiring players in the past. "They, for some shocking reason to me, knew this and made the trade and then didn't want to do the deal."

Irby held out hope that the Bills might increase their offer by July 25, when players report for the start of training camp.

"This could be a strategy of theirs because nothing is going on between now and then," Irby said. "Before I say, 'Not optimistic,' I've seen these kind of deals before where at the 11th hour something gets done. So the door's cracked open."

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