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May 5, 1981: Buffalo Bills Trade First Round Bust Terry Miller

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Terry Miller was the fifth overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft, selected in an effort to replace the just-departed O.J. Simpson. The most obvious statement to make here is that Miller did not live up to Simpson on the field in any way, shape or form. On this date in 1981, the Buffalo Bills cut bait on Miller, trading him to the Cleveland Browns.

Once the Bills traded Simpson, they needed a running game to shore up the offense led by Joe Ferguson. Miller had a wildly successful career at Oklahoma State, finishing second in Heisman voting, so his selection was probably met with fanfare in Buffalo. (Anyone want to confirm that?)

In his rookie year, Miller led the team in rushing with 1,060 yards and seven touchdowns while splitting carries with Curtis Brown and Roland Hooks. Over the rest of his career, he wouldn't even surpass half those totals. In his second season, he rushed for only 484 yards as Brown led the team in rushes and yards. In 1980, he was relegated to return duties, bringing back 16 kickoffs and rushing the ball only 12 times.

That's where everything gets fuzzy.

Miller was traded to the Browns, but never played for them. Supposedly, the Browns gave up fourth- and seventh-round picks in exchange for Miller. (Remember: the draft had 12 rounds in 1982.) The seventh-round pick was used on K Gary Anderson, who was cut coming out of training camp and went on to have a great NFL career, most notably with the Steelers and Vikings. But the Associated Press never mentioned the fourth-rounder, and the Bills only used one pick in that round.

Miller rushed for four yards on two carries with the Seattle Seahawks in 1981 before falling permanently out of football. Perhaps since he never played for the Browns, the fourth-rounder was dropped from the deal.

This is like Unsolved Mysteries, but if you have any knowledge of what happened we would love to hear about it. The Buffalo News doesn't know, either.