Eric Wood can finally announce he's retiring after the Buffalo Bills released the veteran center in a move considered a formality after he was diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.
The NFL transactions list on Thursday listed the Bills reaching an injury settlement and releasing Wood under the designation: "Termination of vested veteran."
The decision by the Bills ends a lengthy waiting period for the team and Wood.
By waiting until Thursday Drew Stafford Jersey , the Bills limited the effect the player's remaining bonus money will have on their salary cap. The more than $10 million in bonus money owed to Wood will now only count against the team's salary cap this year rather than be spread over the two years left on the contract.
Wood declined to comment on being released by the Bills in a text to The AP. Wood did say he's planning to attend Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly's annual charitable auction and golf tournament in Buffalo this weekend.
Though Wood said he'll never play again, the nine-year veteran balked at the last minute to announce his retirement during a news conference in January.
Wood read from a prepared statement and spoke for less than two minutes in revealing end of season tests discovered two discs being dangerously close to his spinal cord.
"Thanks to everyone who supported me throughout my career. And because of that, I am here today," Wood said. "I'm sure there are a lot of unanswered questions. I hope to address those at a later date. Thanks, and go Bills."
According to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, teams could have asked for a portion of bonus money to be returned if a player retired before his contract expired. There was, however, a gray area if a player retired as a result of a career-ending injury.
Wood is from Cincinnati and spent four seasons playing at Louisville before being selected by the Bills with their second of two first-round picks in the 2009 draft. Wood earned a starting job entering his rookie season and appeared in 121 games, including one in the playoffs.
He was a respected team leader, popular in the community for his charitable work Jamaal Williams Jersey , and was the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in 2015 and '16.
Aside from Wood, Buffalo's offensive line must also replace starting left guard Richie Incognito, who abruptly retired in April and was then released by the Bills earlier this month.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson knew the desert was where he wanted to stay, yet consulted with former Coyotes captain Shane Doan before signing a long-term extension.
Doan had been in similar situations before, debating whether to stay in the only place he had ever played or head off someplace else for more money or a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup.
Doan kept true to the Coyotes throughout his career, spending his entire 21-year career with the same franchise, yet didn’t try to sway his former teammate one way or another during a 20-minute call.
”I just asked how he looked at when he was playing, so that helped me a lot,” Ekman-Larsson said. ”It was really nice to have a guy who had been in the same situation a little bit. He didn’t say what I was going to do. You should just do what’s best for you and what you’re feeling comfortable with. After that phone call Michael Irvin Jersey , it felt great to agree on the long term.”
The long term was an eight-year contract extension signed last week that will pay Ekman-Larsson an average of $8.25 million per year. The 26-year-old Swede may have been able to command more money on the open market when his current contract expires after the 2018-19 season, but dollar signs were not what he was after.
Stability, comfortable surroundings and a hope for the future was what Ekman-Larsson sought. The Coyotes are the only team he’s played for and they have a roster filled with up-and-coming players, so it was the only natural fit in his mind.
”It’s only money. It’s not going to make you happier, so the money situation was never a problem,” Ekman-Larsson said. ”I didn’t even think about it. I’m just happy to be a part of this team and this community and the future.”
Since reaching the 2012 Western Conference Finals, the Coyotes have regressed, becoming one of the NHL’s worst teams. They’ve been in rebuilding mode since that run but appear to be on the road to becoming a playoff-contending team again with a slew of moves and draft picks by general manager John Chayka.
Locking up Ekman-Larsson for the long term keeps a key, veteran piece to the puzzle in place, providing the Coyotes with leadership and rarely matched skill from the blue line.
”It’s a huge moment for our entire organization. Our fans should be proud Ryan Kesler Jersey , our ownership should be proud, our staff and everyone involved,” Chayka said after Ekman-Larsson’s signing. ”A superstar-caliber player has the option to go to maybe any of the 31 teams and felt the loyalty and felt the belief enough in what we’re doing to sign on long term. He’s a leader on and off the ice and a special person, a special player.”
Since being taken with the sixth overall pick of the 2009 NHL draft, Ekman-Larsson has established himself as one of the NHL’s most skilled defensemen. He has eclipsed 20 goals twice during eight NHL seasons and is annually among the league leaders in assists by a defenseman, finishing with at least 19 each of the past seven seasons.
Ekman-Larsson got the 2017-18 season off to a slow start, with eight goals and 22 assists the first four months while posting the league’s worst plus/minus rating.
The start came with extenuating circumstances.
Not only was he playing in a new system for a new coach in Rick Tocchet, Ekman-Larsson was still trying to come to grips with the death of his mother, Annika. She battled cancer for 10 years before succumbing and he missed the final three games of the 2016-17 season to be with his family. The weight of her death carried into the start of the 2017-18 season.
”Obviously, losing your mom is something I will have to live with the rest of my life Star Lotulelei Jersey ,” he said. ”It’s not going to take one year, it’s not going to take 10 years, it’s something I’m going to have with me until I die. There’s days that you feel better about it and there’s days where you’re feeling sad about it, so it’s up and down a little bit. It’s OK to be that way, but at the same time it helps to do what I love doing, being around my teammates and great people. That’s something I really appreciate.”
Ekman-Larsson played better at the end of last season as he understood Tocchet’s system more, finishing with 14 goals and 28 assists while playing all 82 games. He expects the comfort level to increase for the upcoming season – and beyond, now that he has a long-term contract in place.
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