I know that this isn't exactly "breaking news", per se, but I left this discussion out of my usual "news dump" post for a specific purpose: I really, really like discussing Roscoe Parrish with Bills fans. Bills WR Roscoe Parrish last week signed a contract extension that will keep him in red, white and blue through the end of the 2011 season.
What may not be as well-known are Roscoe's contract numbers (though as Internet savvy as most of the community members are here, I'm sure at least a dozen of you will scoff at my tardiness - especially since our friend Dan Goldman over at Circling the Wagons discussed this a few days ago). Including the 2008 season - which was to be, and still will be, the final year of Roscoe's rookie deal - Parrish is scheduled to make $10.87 million over the next four years. The numbers, originally reported by the fine folks over at Pro Football Talk, are as follows: $4.02 million in base salaries, $1.1 million in signing bonuses, and $5.75 million in roster bonuses (spread in varying amounts over the length of the deal). This is a three-year extension with the fourth year, again, being comprised of the final year of the original rookie deal.
I felt it necessary to take nearly a week to let this news sink in. Why? At first, I found it rather puzzling that the Bills so willingly ponied up multi-million dollars for a role player when they have some important upcoming free agents in the next few years. 2008 is fine, with special teams aces Josh Stamer, Mario Haggan and Sam Aiken topping the list; the 2009 list is a bit more top-heavy, including LB Angelo Crowell, C Melvin Fowler, CB Jabari Greer and FS George Wilson. I needed to take the time to ask myself: was securing Parrish now worth taking potential dollars away from these men - especially Crowell?
My answer after a week of consideration: absolutely.
Parrish a Big Part of Future Plans
Way back in July (it seems so long ago), I predicted some gaudy statistics for Parrish as he entered his third season as an NFL wideout. I turned out to be about 33% right; Parrish's 33 receptions this season are a career-high and on par with the 40 I predicted, but his 307 yards and 2 touchdowns (1 rush) fall short of the 500 and 5 I guessed at. While I certainly hope I didn't lead any desperate fantasy players awry, I think my point remains valid: the Bills' coaching staff wanted to get Parrish more involved in the offense, and they've done that. There's room to make him more effective still.
Consider the fact that his 33 receptions nearly eclipse the 38 he totaled in his first two seasons. Or his career punt return average of 13.8 yards - a historic mark. Or the fact that despite his seeming lack of production for a former second-round pick, Parrish ranks third on this Bills team with three total touchdowns this season (behind Marshawn Lynch's 6 and Lee Evans' 4). He's scored on a punt return, on a reception and on a rush - something no other player in the league has accomplished this year. The fact of the matter is that Parrish has unique skills - and when you can keep unique players, role players or not, you do it.
Sure, I'd rather see the team make a move to secure Crowell, Terrence McGee, or Evans long-term. But the Parrish deal is not financially crippling - especially considering how explosive he is on the team's "bread and butter" unit. There's still room to make these moves - and to be honest, I hope that Crowell (who is having an excellent year) is next on the "to do" list. But make no mistake about it: this re-signing was a great move by GM Marv Levy to keep a fan favorite in Buffalo for the foreseeable future.