ORLANDO, Fla. -- At 12:01 a.m. on the opening day of free agency, the Miami Dolphins were arranging to meet with linebacker Karlos Dansby, the New York Jets were burning the phone lines and the New England Patriots were finalizing a deal to bring back a franchise nose tackle.
I asked Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix what he was doing at that moment.
"Sleep," he said Monday while taking a break from the NFL owners meetings at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes. "They asked me if I was going to be there, I said 'Hell, no. I ain't going to be there. I'm going to bed.'"
Bills fans probably won't like the sound of that strategy. While the rest of the division's personnel men were getting their heads around the free-agency market, Nix was getting his head around his pillow.
That wasn't laziness on his part. He merely was following the Bills' master plan of building through the draft and cautiously proceeding in free agency.
"I still think you build through the draft," Nix said, "but you can't fill every hole, especially if you haven't been very good.
"We don't get excited about the first week or being up there at midnight and 12:01, signing somebody. We let it play itself out and make sure that the guys we get fit what we need and fill a need."
The Bills have brought in three free agents: right tackle Cornell Green from the Oakland Raiders, inside linebacker Andra Davis from the Denver Broncos and defensive end Dwan Edwards from the Baltimore Ravens.
Nix said those types of acquisitions not only improve a roster, but also help a team draft more efficiently.
"If you do that, then you're going to get in trouble," Nix said. "It kills you two ways. You take a guy that [maybe can't] play, and then you're stuck with him and it keeps you from having a guy you can develop that can help you.
"Every time we sign a free agent, it frees a spot in the draft. You don't have to take that position. You can at least have choices and take the best player, and that's what usually helps you."
The rest of the AFC East has made splashy moves.
The Jets traded for cornerback Antonio Cromartie, dealt safety Kerry Rhodes and signed running back LaDainian Tomlinson. The Dolphins signed Dansby and guard Richie Incognito and made a push for safety Ryan Clark. The Patriots concentrated on re-signing their own players.
"Everybody else in the division has been proactive and aggressive, trying to improve themselves," Nix said, "and I think most of them have in the offseason."
But he said he wasn't concerned with losing ground in the AFC East.
"We're looking to build something solid so we can win consistently," Nix said. "We're not just trying to do it this year and then start over every year. Winning consistently is our goal."