The Buffalo Bills took the first step in securing their offensive line’s long-term future by signing starting right guard Kraig Urbik to a four-year contract extension on Tuesday.
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The deal locks up Urbik through 2016 and is worth $13.3 million, including a $3.5 million signing bonus for this season, a person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team did not reveal the length or monetary terms of the contract.
It’s a significant raise for a fourth-year player, who had signed a $1.26 million contract tender in April. Urbik is set to make a base salary of $2.05 million next year and $2.9 million in 2016, the person said. He’s also eligible to make additional money through roster and workout bonuses, and playing time incentives.
Urbik is completing his third year with the Bills, who claimed him off waivers in September 2010 after he was released by Pittsburgh. The Steelers had selected Urbik in the third round out of Wisconsin in the 2009 draft.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds, Urbik has provided a steadying and versatile presence since moving into a starting role last season. He’s played both guard and center, and has 26 starts — including 11 this season — in 34 games with Buffalo.
The signing came with Buffalo (5-9) set to close out its season with two meaningless games after being eliminated from playoff contention for a 13th straight year. The Bills play at Miami (6-8) on Sunday, and then host New York Jets (6-8) on Dec. 30.
With Urbik locked up, the Bills can now turn their attention on securing two more starting linemen.
Left guard Andy Levitre, who has been the line’s most consistent player, is completing the final year of his contract. Center Eric Wood has one year left on his deal.
Though open to re-signing with the Bills, Levitre said last week that he was unaware of any contract talks taking place.
The Bills have spent the past three seasons revamping their line, which also includes left tackle, Cordy Glenn, a rookie second-round pick.
The line allowed an AFC-low 23 sacks last season and helped the Bills finish with 1,921 yards rushing – the team’s highest total since 2000. This season, the Bills are tied for seventh in the AFC with 28 sacks, and feature the NFL’s sixth best rushing attack.
The Bills have also been in negotiations to re-sign starting safety Jairus Byrd, who is in the final year of his contract. With five interceptions, Byrd is tied for the AFC lead and is tied for seventh in the NFL. He’s also forced three fumbles and recovered two.