After four full months of drama and headaches, the Bills finally applied a little pain-killer to their defensive tackle problem by trading Darwin Walker to the Chicago Bears in exchange for an undisclosed 2008 draft pick. Walker, acquired via trade from Philadelphia in March in the Takeo Spikes/Kelly Holcomb trade, never even participated in a single practice with the Bills. Kurupt broke this story in the diaries.
With the Bills and Walker's agent, Albert Irby, unable to reach an agreement on a new contract (the reason Walker was holding out in the first place), the team decided to move Walker to Chicago, which is in need of a defensive tackle after losing Tank Johnson and Ian Scott in the same off-season.
There were likely two main factors weighing in on this decision. First of all, it's likely that the Bills - who were scheduled to receive a 6th-round pick from the Eagles on August 5 in a clause that would have sent Walker back to Philly - very likely got a better draft pick from the Bears with this trade. My uninformed and only semi-educated guess is that the pick will be performance based; i.e. if Walker meets certain statistical criteria, the Bills will receive a higher draft pick. Update [2007-7-29 16:20:22 by Brian G]: John Clayton is reporting that the draft pick acquired from Chicago was, in fact, a fifth-rounder. So all that speculation you just read was wrong - and it makes this trade an even better deal for the Bills. End Update
Second factor: the health of John McCargo. Big John played in just five games his rookie season before going down with an injured foot; however, as reported this morning, he has looked healthy and performed very well thus far in training camp. His return to form was likely a trigger to this deal.
DT Depth Chart, Minus Walker
It's not like Bills fans have exactly been counting on Walker to show up in Buffalo this year; with him now causing problems in Chicago, the team is left with veteran Larry Tripplett, McCargo and second-year man Kyle Williams as the top three tackles of their rotation scheme. The team could look to keep one or two more players, with Jason Jefferson and Tim Anderson the most experienced of the group. McCargo and Tripplett will man the 3-technique role, while Williams and likely Jefferson will be 1-2 at the 1-technique spot. Anderson could be kept on as a fifth tackle, in the one-technique role as well.
Final Thoughts on Darwin
Well played, Darwin. You forced your way out of Philly, played your cards right with the Bills and now find yourself parked in a potential starting role on the defending NFC Champions. It's hard to say "good job" to a guy you're so disappointed in, but Walker did play his hand very well. But let it be known that Marv Levy did as well. In the two Walker-related trades, he dumped veteran salary for a player who could have helped the team out; when he decided he didn't want to do this, he went out and got an even better draft pick than he originally would have received. That's some shrewd negotiating for the Golden Boy. Well played, Marv.
The Bills now are scheduled to have 10 draft picks next year. Seven are their own; an extra third-rounder comes by way of the Willis McGahee trade; an extra seventh-rounder comes from Philly for Spikes/Holcomb; and the fifth-rounder acquired today makes it 10. Our team is going to be loaded with young, talented depth come next spring. This team is definitely on the upswing. Good deal, Marv, and good riddance, Darwin.