ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., NOV. 1 -- Linebacker Cornelius Bennett received a Buffalo welcome into the NFL this weekend, which included a chat with the mayor, interviews with local anchormen, a private Halloween party and a visit today to cold Rich Stadium.

Speaking of rich, the only Buffalo Bill with a better contract is quarterback Jim Kelly. The Bills' front office figured it couldn't win with offense alone, so owner Ralph Wilson acquired Bennett in the three-way deal with Indianapolis and the Los Angeles Rams that sent running back Eric Dickerson to the Colts.

Then, Saturday on live TV, the Bills signed him to a five-year, $4 million contract, including a $1.5 million signing bonus. When Kelly arrived here this city gave him a parade; Bennett settled for a nice Halloween dinner with his wife Tracey. Reporters here wanted to know what he ate, and he accommodated them.

"I'm a seafood man," he said.

There is some question whether he'll be a fish out of water in Buffalo, where the weather is a tad cooler than Tuscaloosa, but Bennett, the University of Alabama grad, responded: "From the looks of things, this is a football town with sort of a college atmosphere. It's cold, but they're warm people."

The Bills originally wanted to draft Bennett last April, but the Colts got him first. A contract squabble ensued, and the Colts found themselves more interested in Dickerson than Bennett.

The Bills and the Colts had to put their heads together to pry Dickerson away from Los Angeles. In all, six draft picks went west (three first-rounders and three second-rounders), and the NFL office says that's the most first- and second-round picks ever traded for one player.

Sources said yesterday the Redskins had been one of four teams -- along with Houston, Tampa Bay and, of course, Buffalo -- interested in Bennett. But the sources said although the Redskins considered parting with a No. 1 pick in next year's draft, they would not add picks in '89.

Bennett said he wants to play on special teams against the Broncos this Sunday.

"The strike helped me," he said. "The players lost three weeks, so I'm not as far behind in football shape . . . I've been playing serious {basketball} at Alabama, so I'm ready."