Schobel to decide future in August
That doesn't mean he has made up his mind. Speaking by phone from his home in Texas on Wednesday, Schobel confirmed to The Associated Press that he intends to make a decision by the middle of August when it's time for his children to start school.
"I'm not saying yes. I'm not saying no," Schobel said.
Schobel spoke on the day Bills players began arriving in suburban Rochester to report for training camp, which opens Thursday. He has spent his nine NFL seasons in Buffalo, and his 78 sacks rank second on the team's career list behind Hall of Famer Bruce Smith.
One factor in his decision is the Bills wanting him back. Schobel has four years left on a $50.5 million contract extension he signed in 2007, including a $2 million roster bonus he was due in March.
"I'm thinking if I want to do it, and they want me to do it, then I'll do it," said Schobel, noting he hasn't had contact with the team. "The Bills might tell me to get lost. And I'd understand it if they did that."
Schobel didn't attend any of the team's offseason workout programs and practices, including a three-day mandatory minicamp a month ago.
Bills general manager Buddy Nix said the door remains open.
"Absolutely. He's a good football player. You'd like to have him," Nix said. "What we'll do is we'll react according to what he does. If he comes, fine. If he doesn't, fine. It's up to him."
Nix said he learns of Schobel's plans through the media.
The Bills have Schobel listed in their media guide, which was released to reporters on Wednesday.
Should he return, Schobel would have to make the switch from defensive end to linebacker in the new 3-4 defense coach Chan Gailey has introduced this offseason.
The possibility of Schobel playing this season would mark a major change of heart after he sold his Buffalo-area home this spring and relocated his family to Texas.
Along with wanting to spend more time with his family, Schobel was fed up with the team's performance. The Bills have not made the playoffs during his tenure and enjoyed only one winning season, a 9-7 finish in 2004, during that span.
He was also concerned about the toll that injuries and the wear and tear of another football season would have on his body once he's done playing. Last month, Schobel was so prepared to retire that he informed the Bills -- through the media -- that they should prepare to move on without him.
"A month ago, I was not playing," Schobel said, noting he spent much of last season "irritated with football."
His mood began to soften as the NFL season approached and he spoke to his wife about the possibility of playing. He also began missing the camaraderie with fellow veteran defensive linemen he's developed, specifically Chris Kelsay, Marcus Stroud and Kyle Williams.
"I just needed some time," Schobel said. "The last couple of weeks, I started thinking, 'It ain't so bad.' ... Maybe it's the midweek blues, I don't know."
Also factoring into Schobel's decision is whether he has enough time to move his family back to Buffalo and able to get his children into the school they've attended.
That's a switch after Schobel, in March, said he was open to the possibility of living alone in Buffalo and traveling to Texas to be with his family on off days. He's now realized that the travel would wear him out.
He is certain this will be his last season.
"I'll be 33 in September and I've got to get on with my life," he said.
Schobel apologized for wavering on his decision, but said it's one he doesn't take lightly.
"I know I'm probably annoying people, but you've got to be 100 percent committed to this," Schobel said. "I apologize to the people I've irritated. But I guess I can't please everyone."
Also Wednesday, starting linebacker Paul Posluszny said he will be limited at the start of camp after having groin surgery two weeks ago. Posluszny described the procedure as minor after he was hurt during the team's offseason minicamps.
Posluszny expects to work out on his own and be limited to taking part only in team walkthroughs for the first few weeks. He said it was better to have the injury addressed now so he could be fully healthy for the start of the season.
"I feel like I was able to pick up the defense pretty well in minicamp, but I definitely need to be out there," he said. "I feel like I will be a little bit behind. But hopefully, I'll be able to catch up when I get back out there."
Backup safety Jon Corto will miss at least the first three weeks of camp after having surgery to repair a broken left wrist. Corto is still wearing a brace after he aggravated an earlier injury during minicamp last month.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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