<
>

Contract talks between Walker, Bills moving at 'snail's pace'

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- With contract talks progressing
slowly, veteran defensive tackle Darwin Walker is prepared to face
a fine for missing the start of the Buffalo Bills' mandatory
minicamp Monday.

Darwin Walker

Walker

"We're moving at a snail's pace," Walker's agent, Albert Irby,
told The Associated Press on Sunday. "We ain't that close. I don't
know if we're going to get anything done today."

Irby said he spoke with Bills general manager Marv Levy on
Saturday, but wasn't sure when the team would get back to him.

Walker brought his football gear with him to attend a wedding in
Chicago this weekend, Irby said, but his client has not made plans
to travel to Buffalo for the start of the three-day camp. It's the
Bills' only mandatory session and their last series of practices
before the start of training camp in late July.

Should Walker not report, he stands to face a fine because he
has two years left under his current contract.

Walker is holding out to negotiate a contract extension, a
condition he agreed to with Buffalo when the Bills acquired him in
March as part of a deal that sent linebacker Takeo Spikes to
Philadelphia.

The seven-year veteran has not reported to the Bills since the
trade and has vowed he won't do so until a new deal is completed.

"At this point, Darwin feels he has to do what he's got to do.
And I imagine they feel the same way," Irby said. "But nobody's
slammed the door. We're having cordial talks. As long as we're
talking, we're moving forward. But it is a slow pace."

Levy did not immediately return a message left with him.

Walker has missed 12 voluntary minicamp practices and is well
behind in learning the Bills' defensive system. He's a key addition
to a young defense that has lost three starters: Spikes, linebacker
London Fletcher and cornerback Nate Clements.

An agile and penetrating tackle, Walker is considered a good fit
for the Bills, who ask their defensive linemen to do more than just
stop the run. He had 36 tackles and six sacks in 15 games last
season and added two sacks in a 27-24 loss to New Orleans in the
playoffs.