The Buffalo Bills have held talks to continue playing annual games in Toronto.
Speaking by phone from his home in suburban Detroit on Thursday, owner Ralph Wilson said the Bills and Rogers Communications have discussed renewing the team's series north of the border, and he's optimistic an extension will be reached before the current five-year deal expires after next season.
"Oh yeah, we want to renew it. We were talking to them recently, and they want to renew it," Wilson said. "I think that Buffalo can have a very successful franchise embracing Rochester, Buffalo and Toronto as we move forward."
The NFL is on board in wanting to keep the series going. It not only plays into the league's attempt to globalize the sport, but it's also considered key in keeping the small-market Bills viable in western New York.
Without going into specifics on the terms of a potential new deal, Wilson said one of Rogers' key conditions for renewing the agreement is lowering ticket prices. He said the Toronto-based communications giant acknowledged ticket prices had been too high -- averaging around $180 per seat -- and led to series organizers having difficulty selling out games at the 54,000-seat Rogers Centre.
The current deal expires after the Bills play a preseason and regular-season game in Toronto next year.
Wilson also gave full support to slumping quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been the target of criticism while going 1-7 since signing a six-year, $59 million contract extension in late October. Wilson blamed Fitzpatrick's struggles on a rash of injuries that have hampered the offense, and the lack of a supporting cast.
"We've got to get receivers," Wilson said. "If he hasn't gotten anybody to throw to, he's not going to win many games.
"Listen, we're not giving money away," Wilson added. "We think he's a good quarterback, and we're going to stick with him and get him some better players, get him some runners, some tight ends that don't get injured and some wide receivers, and we'll be OK."
After throwing 14 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in helping the team to a 5-2 start, Fitzpatrick has thrown eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions during a seven-game skid.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.