Buffalo Bills quarterback Matt Cassel gestures during an introductory news conference in Orchard Park, N.Y., Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
Gary Wiepert
March 11, 2015

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) LeSean McCoy has a new lead blocker in Buffalo after the Bills signed fullback Jerome Felton.

Newly acquired quarterback Matt Cassel is eager begin competing with EJ Manuel for the starting job. Free-agent receiver Percy Harvin arrived in Buffalo for a visit.

Also, a person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press defensive tackle Kyle Williams agreed to a one-year contract extension to free up salary-cap space in the event Buffalo makes more additions. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills have not announced the agreement.

And that was just Wednesday.

The frenetic pace has reflected a busy offseason in Buffalo. That's where new coach Rex Ryan and new owners Terry and Kim Pegula are taking an aggressive approach to build a contender and end the team's 15-season playoff drought - the NFL's longest active streak.

''You guys tired of seeing me yet?'' general manager Doug Whaley joked, as he stepped to the podium to introduce Cassel. ''I've been working.''

Over the past eight days, Whaley has made two trades - acquiring McCoy from Philadelphia and Cassel from Minnesota - re-signed defensive end Jerry Hughes and further bulked up the Bills running attack by signing Felton to a four-year contract.

And he might not be done yet. Aside from bringing in Harvin for a visit, the Bills have the framework of a contract in place to lure tight end Charles Clay away from Miami.

Clay is a free agent, though the Dolphins have the right to match any offers after awarding the player a transition tag last week. The move ensured that Clay will make at least $7 million this season.

''The way we look at it is, if we try to do something like that, it's to put your best foot forward and hope for the best,'' Whaley said, referring to Clay, who arrived in Buffalo to meet with team officials and tour the city on Tuesday.

The Bills freed up a tight end spot on Wednesday by releasing returning starter Scott Chandler.

The level of activity has not been lost on Bills veterans and newcomers.

''A whole new vibe,'' Hughes said Monday. ''Everybody's excited in the building.''

Felton can sense it, too.

''It shows they're serious about winning,'' he said during his introductory news conference. ''It's just an exciting time to be a Buffalo Bill. The fans can be rest assured in knowing that we're here to win now and that's the only option.''

Felton is a seven-year veteran who spent the past three seasons in Minnesota. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2012, when he helped Vikings running back Adrian Peterson earn NFL MVP honors with 2,097 yards rushing.

Now he'll be opening holes for McCoy as part of a run-oriented offense being installed by incoming coordinator Greg Roman.

''I told him, `Life is going to get easier now.''' Felton said of meeting McCoy.

The Bills offense finished 26th last season, and managed 1,482 yards rushing, the team's lowest total in a 16-game season.

Then there's Cassel, a 10-year journeyman, who spent the past two seasons in Minnesota. He brings experience to Buffalo and will be given an opportunity to compete with Manuel, who has struggled in his two seasons to keep the starting job.

''You have to earn every opportunity you get,'' Cassel said. ''I know that EJ's here, and he's a young and talented player. And I expect that there's going to be a competition.''

Cassel has a 33-38 career record, and twice won 10 games in a season. He went 10-5 with New England in 2008, in taking over after Tom Brady sustained a season-ending knee injury. And Cassel also went 10-5 with Kansas City in 2010.

Inconsistency and injuries have hampered Cassel. He opened last year as the Vikings starter before breaking his left foot three games into the season.

Buffalo provides him a chance for a fresh start.

Bills President Russ Brandon is cautiously encouraged by the team's offseason additions.

''There's still work to do,'' Brandon said. ''It's not about winning press conferences in March. We all know that. It's about winning in January.''


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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