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Terrell Owens
Terrell Owens' signing with the Bills is splitting the pundits.
James P. McCoy/AP

The Buffalo Bills upped the ante in the AFC East with their decision to sign Terrell Owens, writes Steve Wyche of NFL.com.

The move is splitting pundits across the country. Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News thinks Buffalo quarterback Trent Edwards is about to get the lesson of a lifetime, following in the footsteps on Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo. But Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan -- completely aware of T.O.'s warning tag -- loves the move and gives the Bills credit for trying something bold and daring.

Allen Wilson of the Buffalo News says the presence of Owens transcends the playing field -- and projects T.O.'s impact on the Buffalo offense, the team's media exposure, its marketing strategy and, of course, the local party scene.

SI.com senior writer Peter King seems to capture the prevailing national sentiment in this morning's MMQB, deeming the signing a calcuated risk worth taking -- in the short term, anyway.

I have to say that, even though I view Owens as the biggest divisive force in the NFL today, and even though he drops far more balls than a top player should (12 per years, on average, over the past three years), I understand why the Bills did what they did. It's been 10 years since their last playoff playoff appearance. They're the Washington Generals to the Patriots. And Owens will be on his best behavior in 2009, determined to prove wrong all of us who make a living out of criticizing him (oh, it's sooooo hard to do that), and determined to get one more big-money deal out of the Bills or some other team.

"From our standpoint,'' Brandon said, "everything we do is a risk. I was criticized for the Marcus Stroud trade last year, but it turned out to be a pretty good deal for us. Some people have been asleep for the past 10 years. We haven't made the playoffs. We owe it to our fans, and I owe it to the owner, to try to improve our team to finally get back into the playoffs. We needed another playmaker on offense, and we think this opportunity gives us the chance to be more explosive than we are right now. You roll the dice in this business sometimes. We think it's an acceptable risk.''

We'll see. Owens and Lee Evans (last three seasons: 200 catches, 16.0 yards-per-catch) could be a formidable duo, but Edwards is going to find out early that he'll need to throw the ball to Owens more than Evans. Everyone will say Edwards just needs to hit the open guy, but I don't buy it; it hasn't been that way for Owens since 2000, when Rice was on the other side of the field, and it's not going to happen even though Evans is a borderline star receiver. Can Edwards cope with Owens' demands? Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo could -- for a while -- but eventually it overwhelmed the quarterback, the play-callers and the locker rooms.

One year is smart. More than that, history tells us, is stupid.

What do you think about Buffalo's decision to sign T.O.? Do you think the Bills can contend with the Patriots, Dolphins and Jets for a division title?

Peter King: The Bills know they're taking a risk by bringing in T.O. [SI.com]
Jerry Sullivan: Bills grab attention with T.O. signing [Buffalo News]
Owens' impact on Bills is beyond the field [The Buffalo News]
Ann Killion: T.O. won't give Bills any peace [San Jose Mercury News]
Shakeup in starched-up AFC East highlights early stages of offseason [NFL.com]

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