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Friday, February 22, 2019

Eric Wood does not confirm retirement at bizarre press conference

Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood had a press conference scheduled for Monday afternoon in which he was expected to formally announce his retirement, but reporters were left scratching their heads when he spoke for just two minutes and took no questions.

Wood showed up nearly an hour late to the session. He spoke briefly about the neck injury that he previously said a doctor told him would end his playing career, but he ended by saying he is still on the Bills’ roster. General manager Brandon Beane said the same.

What made the series of events even more bizarre was that some of Wood’s current and former teammates attended the press conference, and it seemed like they were going to give the the 31-year-old a big send-off.

Nick Veronica of the Buffalo News speculated that Wood may have gotten a second opinion on his neck, but it seems unlikely that Wood would be cleared to play based on what he tweeted last week. The more likely scenario is that the Bills are trying to figure out how to handle Wood’s retirement for salary cap purposes.

Wood’s salary of $4.8 million for 2018 is fully guaranteed for injury. As Matt Warren of BuffaloRumblings.com explained on Friday, Buffalo will also have to pay Wood a prorated portion of his signing bonus, and there are some dead money implications as well. All in all, Wood is scheduled to count a whopping $10.39 million against the cap next year. The Bills could spread some of the money out if Wood waits until after June 1 to make his retirement official, so perhaps that has complicated things.

Either way, what happened Monday was an embarrassing look for the team.

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