The Bills announced they've continued to engage in negotiations for a new contract with defensive end
“We’ve sent a proposal over to his representatives. His representatives have sent a counterproposal," Bills general manager Doug Whaley said through the team's website.
Hughes, set to be a free agent when the new league year begins, has been a key component to the Bills' defense over the past two seasons. Hughes recorded 10 sacks in each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Whaley said the Bills have no plans on using the franchise tag on Hughes.
“We’re trying to avoid that because we’re trying to get him long term for sure,” said Whaley of Hughes. “We want to keep everybody on the same page so they feel like, ‘Hey I got a good deal.’ And as the
Meeting with the media at the Indianapolis scouting combine on Thursday,
Hughes is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in a few weeks, but the Bills have been working with his representatives on a new contract.
Whaley said that the team and Hughes' agent exchanged salary proposals in recent days. "I just got off the phone with (senior VP of football administration) Jim Overdorf, who talked with their representatives at length last night,” Whaley said. “There’s an open line of communication. I haven’t met with J.O. yet to see how close we are or if we’re close at all. I’ll meet with him soon."
Hughes had 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles for the Bills last season.
If Hughes and the Bills cannot work out a deal, Hughes said he would not be totally against receiving a franchise tag.
"I wouldn't necessarily be disappointed," Hughes said. "I do want [a long-term deal], but the pay increase is also a huge added bonus. It's kind of a mixed emotions between both."
During the 2014 season, Hughes played in 16 games and totaled 54 tackles with 10 sacks.
He's expressed a desire to remain in Buffalo, but said he's not inclined to give the team a hometown discount.
"We’re excited and we want him back,” general manger Doug Whaley said of Hughes. “He’s a great part of our defense and hopefully we can get it done sooner rather than later.”
"That’s a nice little deal to throw out there,” he told the paper about taking less money, “but yeah, I’ve never heard of a hometown discount in the business world.”
General manager Doug Whaley said the Bills will "do everything we can to keep him."
The paper suggests Hughes is in line for a five-year deal worth more than $8 million annually, with $12 million to $20 million guaranteed. Hughes started every game this season after starting just once in 2013, when he played outside linebacker in Mike Pettine's 3-4 scheme.
The Bills could use the franchise tag on Hughes and keep together a defensive line featuring fellow end Mario Williams and tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. Those three Pro Bowlers all are under contract for 2015.
The one-year defensive end tag would cost more than $13 million, eating up lots of Buffalo's cap space.
Hughes said he wouldn't mind playing under the tag. He knows he's in a special situation.
“I’ve built up so much camaraderie with these guys, the stuff we’ve been through, how we hang out in the offseason, how well we gel, it’s ridiculous,” Hughes said. “You definitely want to be somewhere comfortable, somewhere where you know it kind of feels a little bit like home. So that definitely plays a huge role.”
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