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Bills still deciding whether to keep Fitzpatrick

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Associated Press
3/5/2013 3:25:33 PM
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills haven't ruled out the possibility of attempting to re-sign guard Andy Levitre before free agency opens next week. And quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's future remains in limbo.

That was the update general manager Buddy Nix provided Tuesday, while attending the University at Buffalo football program pro scouting day held at the Bills' facility.

"I don't know," Nix told The Associated Press, when asked if the team had reached any decisions regarding Levitre and Fitzpatrick. "We're still in the process of working on it."

Time is running out on the Bills to re-sign Levitre, a four-year starter who is eligible to become a free agent March 12.

Fitzpatrick's status is an altogether different matter. The Bills have sent mixed messages this off-season as to whether they intend to keep or cut the quarterback.

He's coming off his second inconsistent season as starter. And Fitzpatrick's contract is an issue. He's due to make a $3 million bonus this month as part of a six-year, $59 million contract extension he signed in October 2011.

Saying he's spoken with Fitzpatrick several times this off-season, Nix declined to reveal whether he's discussed having the quarterback restructure his contract.

"Any talking, I'll do with him," Nix said.

Fitzpatrick's status appeared secure last month, when new coach Doug Marrone announced he informed Fitzpatrick and newly re-signed backup Tarvaris Jackson that he intends to have both compete for the starting job this off-season.

The Bills' message was less definitive a little over a week later at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. That's where both Nix and team president Russ Brandon were evasive when discussing Fitzpatrick.

Buffalo is already handcuffed by salary-cap limitations, especially after committing a one-year, $6.9 million offer by placing a franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd in order to retain his rights.

That opened questions as to whether the Bills will be able to afford to re-sign Levitre, who is expected to attract lucrative offers in free agency.

Levitre and his agent have not returned messages.

Last week, Levitre told The Buffalo News he was "in limbo," and had not received a contract offer from the Bills.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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