If the reports are true and Marshawn Lynch is indeed on his way out, with a trade inevitable, where exactly will he go? The Buffalo Bills don't believe they'll be offered anything more than a fourth-round pick at this point, and are rumored to be more interested in a veteran player if that was the case. Of course, if multiple teams are interested, that draft pick compensation could increase pretty quickly. Let's hope that is the case.
If not, there could be a number of players that would be of interest to the Bills. I'm not sure if any of the following players are even on the trading block, if any of their teams are interested in Lynch, or if a potential trade even makes sense. Instead, this is more of a thinking aloud exercise while hoping to figure out where Lynch might go, and who the Bills might receive in return.
There are a number of teams that I don't think will have any interest in Lynch, either due to having more than one quality RB in place, or because it just doesn't make sense for them to go after him. I'll lump all of them together here, with their current RBs of note in parentheses.
Unlikely to be interested
Arizona ( , )
Atlanta ( , , )
Baltimore ( , , Le'Ron McClain)
Carolina ( , , )
Chicago ( , )
Cincinnati ( , )
Dallas ( , , )
Denver ( , )
Green Bay ( , Brandon Jackson)
Indianapolis ( , )
Jacksonville ( , )
Kansas City ( , )
Miami ( , )
New England ( , , , )
New Orleans ( , )
( , , )
( , , )
Oakland** ( , )
Philadelphia ( , )
Tennessee (Chris Johnson, LenDale White)
Washington ( , , )
That's 21 teams that I just don't see having any real interest in trading for Lynch and being able to offer a sizable chunk of playing time. Oakland could be a wild card here because of the lunacy of Al Davis and the two poor seasons that McFadden has given them. I don't think a Lynch for Michael Bush trade makes any sense. Also, not every RB I listed should be considered "quality," as I mentioned above. Guys like Jennings, Andre Brown, White, Snelling, Goodson, and others may not be dependable runners, but will either be given opportunities going forward or are good enough in their current role.
Could be interested in Lynch as a backup
Minnesota - I don't necessarily agree with Joe P, but if the Vikes want some real insurance for Adrian Peterson's fumbling problems, Lynch may have some appeal.
Pittsburgh - is their starter going forward, but is the only other RB worth mentioning on their roster. He's a third-down back and getting up there in age. If the want insurance for Mendenhall (and Roethlisberger even), Lynch could be a good fit. I think they'd look towards the draft in typical Steeler fashion, however.
San Francisco - has injury issues every year, stinks, and Lynch back in the Bay Area might hold some intrigue. I think this is the one team in this section that could really pursue Lynch.
St. Louis - Steven Jackson is a stud, but they have no one else. I think this would be a long shot, because I don't see the giving up anything of value for a backup RB.
Could pursue Lynch as their starter
Cleveland - is a solid RB and proved that in the final month of the season. I just don't know if he's the longer-term answer for the . With a new GM in place in Holmgren and a need at the position, Lynch could be a nice, cheap addition for them.
Detroit - I wouldn't have included them if it weren't for the knee injury suffered by late in the season this past year. With the uncertainty surrounding him, the could pursue Lynch to be their main option this season. It makes a lot of sense, especially since Lynch is still so young. With an offense that could blossom around second-year QB Matt Stafford this year, Lynch could be a very nice fit.
Houston - was excellent in 2008, and reverted back to his inconsistent college ways last year before hurting his neck and finishing on IR. The lack of production on a very productive Houston offense, the neck issue and his major fumbling problems have Houston in need of a quality RB. With Gary Kubiak in "win or lose his job mode," Houston could be looking for a RB who will certainly help them immediately instead of addressing the position early in the draft. This would be a great fit for Lynch's talents, as well.
San Diego - Themight be the most obvious choice with their big hole at RB, and Buddy Nix's relationship with the Chargers' front office. This is one of the better teams in the NFL, so they could be much more likely to add a veteran than a re-building team like Cleveland. Lynch would welcome a return to southern California, and the Chargers would get a quality running mate for . This destination makes the most sense.
Seattle - Thehave a solid, young RB in , but have seemed reluctant to overly rely on him. Pete Carroll might see differently, but I think they see him as more of a change of pace back, as opposed to the inside the tackle RB that they probably need right now. They could have a lot of interest in C.J. Spiller in the first round, making a Lynch trade unlikely. One thing to keep in mind: Carroll got to see Lynch in person, as Cal played his Trojans three times, with Lynch running pretty well in each of those games. Oh yeah, stinks.
Tampa Bay - I think this is the dark horse destination.and Cadillac Williams are not guys the Bucs should be relying on going forward. They could use a younger, fresher RB to unseat that underwhelming duo. could use some more weapons around him, and there could be a good long-term opportunity for Lynch here.
Instead of going into great detail about any players the Bills might be able to trade Lynch for, I will list them and let you guys decide whether they would be a good fit. None of these players are necessarily available, but they seem to fit the value the Bills could get in return for Lynch.
Players that might be available or hold some appeal to the Bills
San Francisco - NT/DE Isaac Sopoaga, WR Jason Hill
Cleveland - NT Shaun Rogers (unlikely), OLB David Veikune
Detroit - I don't see anyone on their roster that fits for both teams
Houston - WR Jacoby Jones, DT Frank Okam, DT DelJuan Robinson
San Diego - OLB Shawne Merriman (I don't see it though), OLB Jyles Tucker
Seattle - WR Deion Branch, DT Red Bryant, DT Colin Cole (less likely), OT Sean Locklear
Tampa Bay - WR Michael Clayton, QB Josh Johnson
In my opinion, there just wouldn't be many players that hold a ton of interest for the Bills. Looking at the quick list I put together, OLB, NT and WR might be the positions the Bills target. San Diego and Seattle look like they could be the best options, at least if these are the types of players that might be available.
In the end, with a trade apparently inevitable, the Bills might have to take a subpar player in return or go with the best draft pick they can get their hands on. Unless they can make a deal with an unexpected team, or find a hidden gem on somebody's roster, the pickings look somewhat slim.