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Contract Talks Picking Up Between Bills & DE Jerry Hughes

Bills GM Doug Whaley said they’ve been working hard to hammer out a deal with free agent DE Jerry Hughes in Indianapolis.

According to Whaley, contract talks have picked up over the last 24 hours.

“We’ve sent a proposal over to his representatives. His representatives have sent a counterproposal. I just got off the phone with Jim Overdorf, who talked with their representatives at length last night,” said Whaley, via BuffaloBills.com. “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.”

Whaley was asked if they can afford to spend big money on Hughes given that they already have a lot of money tied up in their defensive line.

We can afford to invest in that defensive line because we don’t have a large part of our salary cap eaten up by a marquee quarterback,” said Whaley. “So that affords us the ability to be able to try to keep a Jerry Hughes and pay him what he’s worth. The way we have to play we’re going to have to have a strong defense and get after the quarterback and run the ball.

Whaley added that they’re trying to avoid using their franchise tag, and instead get Hughes locked up long-term.

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 Buffalo Bills we say we got a good deal.

Hughes, 26, will be an unrestricted free agent in March, and would be one of the more sought after players in this year’s free agent class.

In 2014, Hughes recorded 53 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one recovery and even scored a defensive touchdown for the Bills defense. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 14 defensive end in a 4-3 system out of 59 qualifying players.

We have Hughes currently listed as the No. 17 player in our Top 75 Free Agents list.