The Buffalo Bills are prepared to move on without Darwin Walker after failing to reach a new contract with the veteran defensive tackle before the start of a mandatory minicamp Monday. Talks continue but according to ESPN and AP, general manager Marv Levy said the ultimate decision to report to the team rests with Walker, who is under contract, and has also been advised he’s subject to being fined. “We’d like to have him,” Levy said. “But if he’s not going to be here, we’ll go on without him. That’s all it amounts to.”
Walker is currently holding out while seeking an extension to the two years he has remaining on his contract. Negotiating a new deal was a condition the seven-year NFL veteran placed on the Bills in March after the team acquired him in a trade that sent linebacker Takeo Spikes to Philadelphia. Walker has not yet reported to the Bills and has already missed the team’s 12 voluntary minicamp sessions. Under existing NFL rules, players are subject to fines only when they miss a mandatory session, such as this week’s three-day camp. Citing team policy, Levy would not say if Walker has been fined.
The two sides had attempted to reach a deal after stepping up negotiations over the past week. Walker’s agent, Albert Irby, said Sunday that talks were progressing at “a snail’s pace,” after he last spoke with Levy on Saturday. Irby was not immediately available for comment Monday. Levy said the team does not regret making the trade, knowing the conditions the player set: “No, not yet,” Levy said. Yet he remains hopeful a deal can still be reached.
The Bills can return Walker to Philadelphia if he doesn’t report by Aug. 5. Buffalo would receive a sixth-round pick in next year’s draft as compensation. That would be a major setback after the Bills acquired Walker to try to continue improving the defensive line. A penetrating tackle who can pressure the quarterback, Walker was considered a good fit in the Bills defensive scheme. Walker had eight sacks in 17 games — including playoffs — last season, and has 26½ sacks over the past five years, fourth best among NFL defensive tackles during that span.