Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 3/14/12

While Buffalo Bills fans spent the day playing "Where's Mario?" all around Western New York, I've been cyber-stalking every Twitter account and Buffalo sports site waiting to here one way or another about if Williams will sign. You know what I've found out since last night? Pretty much nothing... well, nothing of note anyway...
Honestly, this is what has passed for solid, researched sports news out of Buffalo today:

Williams stayed the night in Buffalo. Williams went to Buffalo Medical for a physical. Williams met with Buddy Nix for a few hours at 1 Bills Drive, then went (along with Dave Wannstedt) to pick his fiance up from the airport. After that, he went back to the facility while his girl was taken for a tour of the city by Bills officials. Williams got a similar tour after a little while, then returned to the Ralph. Later, the superstar couple (they've already got their own paparazzi... I didn't even know Buffalo had paparazzi) plan on having dinner with a few of the Bills and their wives, including potential co-lineman Kyle Williams.

That's all we've got as of 4:00, a whole bunch of media conjectures, tales told by idiots, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing", and a whole lot of disseparate news coming off the Twitter wire (he's signed... no, wait he's leaving town... no, he's signing right now... hold on...). However, though one Mario's news may have grown stagnant (and frustrating) for now with Buffalo waiting patiently while Williams seriously considers moving his entire life, family (both future and present), and career across the country (this is a lot bigger decision than people are giving him credit for), there is another Mario making some noise in Buffalo.

In the flurry of first day wide receiver signings, Mario Manningham kind of slipped to Wednesday unnoticed and unapproached. As the dust begins to settle, though, the other free agent named Mario is starting to get some attention as teams look to grab their piece of the receiver pie this offseason. Having spent four years with the Giants as the two/three option, Manningham is used to playing solid backup to star receivers, but had become too overshadowed in 2011 by Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. When free agency hit, the Giants just didn't seem to put any emphasis on the need to re-sign Mario and he slipped, rather quietly, into the NFL offer pool, treading water in the corner for a day while names like Jackson, Wayne, and Meachem got their contracts. It was too bad, really, as Manningham has had a nice career with the Giants, with a stat line the last three years that reads 156 catches for 2,289 yds and 18 TDs.

Manningham is a great threat after the catch, averaging 14.5 yds per reception, and manages to play much bigger than his 6'0", 185-pound frame would suggest. Unlike Robert Meachem, who bailed on the Bills' offer to be their No. 2 so he could be the No. 1 guy for Philip Rivers in San Diego, Manningham is used to being in the supporting role in the passing game. However, that doesn't mean he lacks the skills to take a game over should his comrades in the corps find themselves flummoxed on the other side of the field. Sure, Mario had a down 2011 season stats-wise, missing a few games to injury and getting the ball far less than Cruz and Nicks, but he was instrumental to the Giants getting that elusive second Super Bowl, catching 5 for 73 yds including an awesome 38-yard sideline grab on the winning drive late in the 4th.

In the Bills' offense, he'd balance the field opposite Steve Johnson, drawing attention as needed, yet able to make plays when the ball comes his way (he's got great hands and separates from defenders well). With youngsters David Nelson, Donald Jones, and Scott Chandler showing promise as well, Fitzpatrick should have no excuse for not succeeding this year with Manningham in the fold (especially if they can keep their offensive line healthy, maybe add some draft depth at left tackle).

Currently, Buffalo is one of three teams vying for Manningham's services (alongside Miami and San Francisco, who he'll visit Thursday) and though the Bills may be able to tempt him without signing Williams first, you've got to believe it'll be even easier to get Mario #2 if Mario #1 signs and brings some legitimacy to Buffalo's expectations of success in 2012 (and beyond). With "Super" Mario (Williams) "locked in" at the Bills facility (according to John Clayton's Twitter) as they try to convince him to take a whole wheel barrel full of money to move to the Queen City, it's good to see they aren't losing their focus on bettering the whole team. By reaching out to Manningham as well, the Bills are continuing to prove their desire to really improve the team for the 2012 campaign, looking to plug the leaks of a year ago and create an environment where success could start to breed unchecked.

I'd just like to hear some concrete answers, is all, rather than reports on where Williams and his potential teammates will dine this evening.

(psst... Pearl Street Grill is an awesome location at sundown And they serve deep fried, beer battered bacon... enjoy... sign somebody soon, please.)
Good luck Buffalo... wake me when you know something football related...


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