The Buffalo Bills signed WR Terrell Owens to a one-year, $6.5 million deal way back on March 7. When the signing became official late that afternoon, the Bills immediately had a surplus of talent at the position - and many speculated that four-year pro Roscoe Parrish, the most luxurious of the depth players, might soon be on the chopping block.
Despite surviving the Draft without a trade, Parrish trade rumors have yet to die. The Buffalo News has kept the rumor alive over the past few weeks, indicating that a trade of Parrish is still possible, and speculating that Parrish started in place of the injured Owens last weekend in Green Bay in order to showcase him live in front of NFL scouts. Even if the rumor isn't true, I still think trading Roscoe a borderline terrible idea. Explanation is after the jump.
Special teams still a point of emphasis
Bobby April still has a lot of say when it comes to the final shape of the roster each and every season. Special teams is, obviously, highly emphasized each year, and no one can deny that Parrish is an asset to April's punt units. Parrish is historically good when it comes to returning punts, averaging 14 yards per return for his career and scoring three touchdowns in that role (as opposed to the five he's hauled in as a receiver). One could easily make the argument that Parrish is the NFL's most feared punt returner today.
Parrish rarely returns punts in the pre-season. That's remained true this year, as the Bills have chosen to keep him out of harm's way by letting reserve running backs Dominic Rhodes and Bruce Hall handle punts. Each has muffed a kick this year, leading to a fumble recovery for the opposition. Those types of plays make one appreciate Parrish's return skills even more. It's pretty clear that Rhodes won't be handling punts in-season (and Hall probably won't be on the team), but if Parrish is traded, Rhodes might get the nod. So could Leodis McKelvin, though as the kick returner and a starting cornerback, McKelvin's plate is rather full. If Parrish leaves, punt returns become a liability in Buffalo.
Is the potential compensation worth it?
Potential compensation for a player of Parrish's stature isn't overwhelming. If you're looking at draft picks, a fifth-round selection seems like a best case scenario. Trading for another player is possible, but still rare (though there have been a couple of player-for-player swaps here in the last couple of weeks). It's extremely likely that any player swapped in here for Parrish won't have the electric return value that Parrish brings to the table. How likely is it that a new guy could assimilate to Bills schemes and contribute right away? I'm going with not likely.
Any compensation the Bills received for Parrish almost assuredly would not be worth Parrish's value to the team right now. Let's not forget that this coaching staff, and this franchise as a whole, is in full-fledged win-now mode. How does a future pick or a reserve at another position help them win games? Parrish can change the landscape of a game by himself.
Parrish is what he is
It should be obvious that I'm not advocating keeping Parrish based on the vain hope that he could still blossom as a receiver. He hasn't caught more than 35 passes in a season, and he's only crossed the 30-catch plateau once. If he still has untapped potential as a receiver, he's not going to reach it in Buffalo - we can't figure out how to use him. His value clearly isn't offensive.
He's still worth keeping around - even as a "luxury," a description used quite often these days. His return skills alone make him worth keeping around - unless, of course, a franchise gets desperate and overcompensates. (That's not likely.) Let's face it - Roscoe Parrish is one hell of a luxury item to have.