The Buffalo Bills Were Absolutely Justified in Trading Lee Evans!


Lee Evans was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for a fourth round draft pick.

As Bills fans everywhere start going crazy and wanting to crucify the Bills staff for getting rid of the most talented guy on the team, I wanted to weigh in.  Especially because I’m beginning to feel as if Buddy Nix reads my columns and takes my advice and so I feel partially responsible for this move.  If you read my post on July 27th, where I broke down the WRs, I outlined why the Bills should trade Lee Evans for a third and a fifth round draft pick.  So here’s the justification.

From Lee’s point of view:

Lee Evans has been a great player for the Bills, but winning has not happened.  Coming into the final year of his contract, Lee was most likely not going to re-sign for the what the Bills would pay him based on his numbers and unfortunately for Lee, he most likely would not have seen his numbers improve so he could get a better contract.  Free agency would not have been kind to Lee Evans.  Now Lee goes to an offense that desperately needed his speed, with a young up and coming quarterback with a monster arm and no room to wreak havoc.  He will break 800 yards receiving and will see dramatically more targets, as he gets less double coverage in Baltimore as he did with the Bills.  Last year, the Ravens were many analysts pick to go to the AFC championship, and they still are a favorite to make the playoffs this year.  I’m not downing on the Bills, I think the Bills organization is a great one, but let’s face facts.  Evans is probably only going to get one more contract, he doesn’t have the size to be extremely valuable after 35.  He needs a great year this year to get the contract a guy with his talent deserves and it just wasn’t going to happen with the Bills.

From  the Bills perspective:

Depth:    11 WRS. 8 or 9 of them could start and get 400-600 yards in this offense.  Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones, David Nelson, Roscoe Parrish, Buster Davis, Marcus Easley, Naaman Roosevelt.  Call me crazy, but I’m ok with that lineup.  We could line up any five of those guys in the spread and each could be equally productive.  We have great depth at this position.  If we had kept Lee, one of these guys would have been cut, picked up on waivers and the Bills would have gotten nothing in return.  The way this system is built, one WR gets double covered, one receiver benefits big time (Steve Johnson, 2010) and the other 3-4 guys reap 400-600 rewards a year.  I’m much more optimistic that Marcus Easley and Naaman Roosevelt could blossom into something very valuable over the next few years, than Lee breaking out in this offense and signing with us next year.  In 2013, we would have lost two WRs instead of just one if we hadn’t traded him.

Pay:  Lee was taking up 3.25 base + incentives in cap space.  The Bills only have about 20 mil in cap space left over right now.  When you consider that the average NFL player makes 1 mil a year, 3 millions dollars for a 30 year old WR that you don’t need sounds pretty steep.

Draft Pick:  Yeah yeah.  I’ll hear it over and over again, a 4th round pick is nothing! Lee was drafted 13th overall! We should have gotten more for him.  Remember, the Patties got a 4th rounder for Randy Moss, after he had set huge records with Tom Brady.  They probably only gave up a 5th or 6th for Ochocinco.  Deion Branch, 4th rounder.  At this point in the year, we were never going to get a crazy 1st, 3rd, 5th, kind of package for a speedy deep threat.  I love Lee Evans, but he is what he is.  Just to get some perspective, let’s look at the rookies from this year who may or may not pan out, but who I like alot:

Da’Norris Searcy  – 4th
Chris Hairston  –  4th
Johnny White  –  5th
Chris White  –  6th
Justin Rogers  –  7th
Michael Jasper  –  7th

Now let’s take a look at some notable draft picks the Bills have drafted in the fourth round or later before Buddy Nix:

Corner – 4th
Demetrius Bell – 7th
Steve Johnson – 7th
Kyle Williams – 5th
Terrence McGee – 4th
Sammy Morris – 5th
Jay Riemersma – 7th
Andre Reed – 4th
Gary Anderson – 7th

And finally let’s look at notable guys Buddy Nix has drafted in 4th rounds or later:

Marcus Easley  –  4th
Arthur Moats  –  6th
Brandon Siler  –  7th
Darren Sproles  –  4th
Shaun Phillips  –  4th
Michael Turner – 5th

Still think a 4th round pick is nothing?

Recap:  The Bills were not going to have Lee Evans in 2013.  So do we wait for interest to die away?  Do we just shrug our shoulders and say well let’s at least enjoy watching Evans as a Bill for his last year?  Should we deceive ourselves into thinking it would work out?  Dominant teams sign/re-sign pricey free agents, not rebuilding teams.  I know we want success and we want it all right now, but that’s not realistic.  The smart move? Keep one of the WRs we would have lost, gain a 4th rounder and 3-4mil in cap space.  I want to see the Bills make smart moves to make the team better and to keep from getting worse.

As for me, I wish Lee Evans well and thank him greatly for the work he’s done and the years he gave to the Bills.  I’m happy for him that he is put into a better position to make the money he deserves.  I’m happy that the Bills have made an aggressive move to make the team better and I hope they make more of the same in the future.