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Opinion: Still Not Holding Breath On Lee Evans Trade

Three days ago, when reports first surfaced (or, more accurately, re-surfaced) that the Buffalo Bills may be looking to part ways with receiver Lee Evans one way or another, I expressed a belief that any Bills fan holding his or her breath waiting for it to happen would be making a mistake. Naturally, there's another report on Evans out, this time linking him to the receiver-needy Arizona Cardinals.

I still don't think a trade is likely, for a number of reasons I'll get into after the jump. Let's deal with a Tim Graham report (via WGR 550 on Tuesday) that the Bills were considering releasing Evans outright before the NFL lockout stripped them of that possibility.

The reason the Bills were considering that route is because Evans was due a $1.5 million bonus once the new league year began. (He'll get another one of those next year, too.) After the lockout ended and the new CBA was ratified, the new league year began on August 4. It's been a week, and the Bills have presumably paid Evans his bonus by this point. Not only is an outright release now unlikely, it would be asinine.

As for trading Evans, as I've stated, I still believe it's unlikely. For one, I still have not yet seen a report that convinces me that the Bills are interested in moving Evans right now. Not last year; not in January; but right now, in August, during training camp, with the regular season beginning a month from tomorrow.

Evans' salaries are not remotely prohibitive over the final two years of his deal; only the aforementioned bonus could be viewed as a potential catalyst to an Evans move. Beyond Evans on the depth chart, the Bills have the still-proving-himself Steve Johnson, the boom-or-bust Roscoe Parrish (particularly health-wise), and a bunch of eager and talented youngsters. Parting ways with Evans would put extraordinary pressure on Johnson to be a go-to target - pressure he may or may not be ready to accept head on - and would really thin out the team's most promising positional group.

The only argument that makes any sort of sense from a personnel standpoint is that the team wants to develop said young talent - a group that could include the likes of David Nelson, Donald Jones and Naaman Roosevelt, as well as an unknown like Marcus Easley or free agent pickups such as Brad Smith and Buster Davis. They're certainly not lacking in options, but folks, if it's not plain as day to you that none of these players are of Evans' caliber, I can't help you.

Evans isn't going to fetch a lot on the trade market. At best, we're talking about a mid-round pick here, and even that seems wildly optimistic. Sure, the team flipped Marshawn Lynch for a couple of mid-round picks a year ago, but they also had a Top 10 pick waiting in the wings. They don't have that luxury at receiver, even if they do have the luxury of numbers. Evans is still too important to this team to move for that meager price - even if his value lies more in what he opens up for his teammates than what he actually produces.

In short, I'm still not holding my breath on this one. It wouldn't shock me, and I wouldn't be totally opposed to it, but logically, it doesn't make a ton of sense not just for the 2011 Buffalo Bills, but for those iterations beyond, as well.