Over the last couple of weeks, the Buffalo Rumblings email inbox has been filled up by readers asking questions with two common themes. Back by popular demand, our weekly mailbag feature will air each Tuesday morning and address the hot questions of the day.
For the record: Brendan Harrington, Matt Warren and I also discussed these topics in this week's episode of the Buffalo Rumblings Podcast.
Should the Bills sit C.J. Spiller and/or Stephon Gilmore until fully healthy?
This question is easy to answer regarding Gilmore, in my opinion: no, they shouldn't sit him. He will undoubtedly be a liability until the club protecting his surgically repaired left wrist is removed, but even a one-armed Gilmore represents an upgrade over Justin Rogers. The Bills are limiting Gilmore's reps with the knowledge that, because of the protection of the club, his injury is still progressing as he's playing. He'll continue to get his legs under him, and when the club comes off, he'll be 100 percent and ready to roll. He improved from Cincinnati to Miami, and should only continue to get better.
Things are a bit trickier with Spiller, who has been trying to battle through an ankle injury for three weeks now. He has played a combined 44 snaps in the last three games - that's just eight more than Gilmore played in Miami alone - and is clearly not himself. Criticism is being leveled at the Bills for having played Spiller at all, but here's the thing: up until Sunday's win over Miami, he had been effective in his limited role.
The Bills made a decision with Spiller going into the Cleveland game earlier this month: they'd let him play through the ankle injury, limit his reps and make sure he was still progressing towards 100 percent health. We're not privy to how the ankle is coming along - Spiller himself said prior to the Miami game that he'd been feeling better - but we do know that he was productive in Cleveland and against Cincinnati, rushing 18 times for 121 yards and a touchdown. The production screeched to a halt on Sunday - he had seven yards on nine touches - and seemed to tap out of the game more than usual with the ankle bothering him.
To sum up my feelings on the Spiller situation: if the injury has regressed, which it seemed to do in Miami, then yeah, it's time to sit Spiller for a week and reassess heading into the Kansas City game. But the criticism being leveled at the Bills for playing Spiller is silly - as is the idea that he has been hurting the team by being on the field. His performance in Miami was a dramatic shift from where he had been in the previous two contests.
Should the Bills trade Jairus Byrd?
Byrd is in a similar situation to Gilmore right now, easing his way back into the playing rotation following a five-week hiatus due to injury. Reports surfaced last week that the Bills are exploring the possibility of trading Byrd, and given the events of this past off-season, this topic has been in a slow burn state for months.
Any team trading for Byrd would do so with the knowledge that, because of the NFL's franchise tag rules, they won't be able to negotiate a long-term deal with him until after the season - and there's no guarantee that Byrd, who wants to test the open market, will do so in good faith. That lowers the price teams would be willing to part with for Byrd, which might not have been enough even before that little wrinkle.
I don't think it's even in the realm of possibility that the Bills will trade Byrd, unless a team gets unbelievably desperate and offers the Bills something they can't refuse (think picks, not players). It's tough to imagine the Bills simply dumping Byrd for whatever they can get, considering that they still have all of the leverage in this situation with the ability to franchise him again next off-season. So: should the Bills trade Byrd? Sure, if a miraculous offer comes along. But I should win the lottery, too.