As I sat at my computer last night in the wake of the Buffalo Bills' 19-13 home/road loss to the New York Jets reading emails from you, dear Rumblers, I began typing out replies to several inquiries about players that the Bills might look to trade this off-season.
Rather than type three emails, I'll stick to one blog post, and hopefully this will engender a little debate - some of which we've already had in various FanPosts very recently.
Trades are notoriously difficult to pull off in the NFL. In fact, the bigger the name, the more unrealistic a trade scenario is - unless, of course, that player has worn out his welcome or has other legitimate factors swaying the decision to deal him. Kind of like Braylon Edwards' weird hatred for LeBron James, which got him dealt to New York. I'll be blunt - I don't see a single player on this current Bills roster that fits the criteria of a "likely" movable asset this off-season. It's even more difficult to predict which players might end up on the trade block because of the Bills' in-flux situations in the front office and at head coach.
Still, there are three veteran personnel assets on this roster that I believe could be enticing to other NFL teams this off-season should the right situation present itself. I am not saying it is likely that any of these players will be moved, nor am I saying I'd be pleased to see them go - quite the opposite, on both counts. I want these players on the Buffalo Bills in 2010 and beyond. But if the right situation comes along for any of them... well, I'll explain after the jump.
Age: 33 on 9/1/2010
Contract situation: '10 salary is guaranteed ($6.025 million); owed $21.5 million in base salaries 2011-2013
- Schobel has had a nice bounce-back season after missing most of 2008 with a Lisfranc foot injury. With 7.0 sacks to this point in the season, Schobel has already eclipsed the 6.5 he put up in 2007, which happened to be his lowest total since he was a rookie in 2001. He's not the same player he was in 2005 and 2006, when he put up 26 sacks in a two-year span, but he's still capable of contributing very solid numbers to a team's pass rush. He's dependable, he's durable, and I sincerely doubt he'd be averse to playing for a contender, considering he's played nine years and never sniffed the NFL playoffs.
The problem in dealing Schobel is two-fold: he'll be 33 when the 2010 season starts, and his contract numbers are rather massive for a player of his caliber and age. Unless a contender is desperate to add a veteran pass rusher with some moxie, most teams will pass on a fat contract attached to an aging player, no matter how much said player has left in the tank. Dealing Schobel would almost certainly hinge on an agent's promise to re-structure his deal.
Schobel can still play, and odds are extremely high that he'll still be in Buffalo next season. At his age and with his talents, however, he is not schematically versatile. He's a 4-3 end through and through; he's played it his entire career, and he never had, and certainly doesn't currently possess, the athletic chops to make the move to 3-4 OLB. Nor can he play the five-technique required of a 3-4 DE. If Buffalo's new coaching staff prefers a 3-4 defense, Schobel's worth to the team plummets significantly, and it'd be difficult to guarantee a situational pass rusher $6 million. There are a lot of factors at play here - scheme, age, contract status - that make it tremendously difficult to deal Schobel, and if circumstances don't work out, Schobel might not have much worth to the Bills in 2010, either.
Age: 29 on 3/11/2010
Contract situation: Owed $11.45 million in base salaries, a $3 million roster bonus in '10, and $1 million roster bonuses in '11 and '12
- Give Jim Overdorf some credit, because the four-year mega-deal he and Evans' agent agreed upon last October was a truly excellent signing for this franchise. Evans made over $11 million last season and close to another $10 million this season; he'll make about $8 million next season, and then a little over $4 million in the final two years of his deal. $8 million for an excellent receiver in his prime is perfectly reasonable, and the monetary sums get even more reasonable as Evans hits his 30s.
Those monetary sums could make Evans an extremely valuable commodity on the trading block. Teams will be willing to look past his low numbers, because let's face it - his 31 receptions, 474 yards and 5 touchdowns to this point in the season can be directly attributed to awful offensive line play, almost-as-awful quarterback play, and the weekly need to placate Terrell Owens with targets. In today's NFL, speed receivers are a rare and valuable commodity. (Well, speed receivers that can catch, anyway.) Evans is extremely well-respected in the league; he's an outstanding teammate and a leader, and obviously still has a ton left in the tank.
The problem, of course, is that Owens is a free agent - Josh Reed is, too - and if the Bills were to deal Evans, who the heck would they throw to? Evans would certainly fetch the most compensation of any of the three names on this list, but if the Bills are grooming a new quarterback, they'd better provide him at least one weapon. It's extremely unlikely that the Bills move Evans, and unlike Schobel, any coach that comes into Buffalo will view Evans as a big-time asset, regardless of scheme. But again, if the right offer were to come along and allow the Bills to address a core need (such as quarterback or the offensive line), moving Evans might not be the end of the world.
Age: 24 on 4/22/2010
Contract situation: Owed $3.165 million in base salaries for next three years; $1.14 million is in voidable final year of deal (2012)
- I've gone on record with this here many times over the last week or two, but I'll re-iterate: I don't want Lynch traded because of his poor season (96 carries, 338 yards, 2 TD), nor because of his off-field transgressions. Those aren't good reasons at all to trade a young running back with a lot left in the tank. Particularly considering how cheap he is to employ and the fact that he's only under contract for two more seasons (he can void the 2012 season and hit free agency after 2011 wraps up), it doesn't make sense to move him. You absolutely have to have two quality running backs in this league, and the Bills have one of the better combinations in Lynch and starter Fred Jackson.
The only reason Lynch makes this list - yes, only as in one - is because he plays running back. That earns him a spot on this list, and it also earns him a spot in the "unlikely to be moved" category of this list, which is all-encompassing. Good NFL teams do not live or die on running backs; more accurately, it is much easier to find two quality players at this position than it is to find one quality quarterback. There aren't many teams hurting for running backs at the moment - that's why talents like C.J. Spiller and perhaps Jonathan Dwyer and Jahvid Best will slide in next April's NFL Draft - and if you can bring in a young guy in the draft, why trade for one with known off-field issues?
Lynch is not a player that I'd actively shop. (Nor is Evans, for that matter, and I'd only actively shop Schobel if we're switching defensive schemes.) I'm not worried about his off-field issues or the idea that he's a bad locker room influence. He's a good football player, and we need as many of them as we can get. But if another team called about Lynch, I'd certainly listen. He's a young guy with talent, and those players typically fetch solid compensation. But flipping him for whatever I can get? That wouldn't even cross my mind with Lynch. He's more valuable as a No. 2 back than he is as a conditional third-round pick.