Earlier this week, after months of will-they-or-won’t-they trade speculation surrounding the former 2007 first round pick, the Buffalo Bills finally ended the Marshawn Lynch era by dealing the former Cal back to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Bills sent Lynch to the Pacific Northwest in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2011 and a sixth-round selection in 2012 that could turn into a fifth-round choice. After a close but no cigar attempt to woo Lynch away from Buffalo at the draft, the Seahawks’ patience finally paid off. With recent injuries to fellow running backs Ryan Grant of Green Bay and LeSean McCoy of Philadelphia, Lynch’s name had been linked to rumors involving both the Packers and the Eagles.
Lynch exits Buffalo with 2,765 rushing yards, 670 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns. In his rookie season in 2007, Lynch ran for 1,115 yards and seven touchdowns and followed up his sophomore season with his second consecutive 1,000 yard season gaining 1,036 yards to go along with eight touchdowns and a Pro Bowl selection. But thanks to his checkered off the field occurances, the promising start to his career as a Bill rapidly faded.
He was invovled in a hit-and-run incident in Buffalo in 2008. The following year he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge stemming from a traffic stop in California, subsequently leading to his three-game suspension at the start of last season. Lynch quickly fell out of favor in the eyes of the fans and never regained his starting running back role that Fred Jackson seized in Lynch’s absence.
Bills fans probably looking for more than what Seattle gave in return, but in this case I have to say I have no problem how Buffalo handled the trade. They probably did everything they could to fleece a top-end draft choice from somebody, and despite their desire to fetch a second or third rounder in return for Lynch’s services, taking into consideration a running back’s short shelf life and the business aspect of things, had the Bills been able to snag a second or third round choice the trade probably would’ve been made a long time ago.
You’re never going to see a Ricky Williams type blockbuster trade where a gluttony of picks are going to be sent back the other way. Considering that one more strike against him, and Lynch is looking at possibly a half-year to a year long suspension, it was wishful thinking Buffalo could’ve gotten anything more than what they were given.
When I think of Lynch’s short time in a Bills uniform, I think of what ifs. What if he didn’t have a penchant for finding himself on the wrong side of the law? Would he still be here, and would the Bills have drafted C.J. Spiller? What if the 49ers had passed on Patrick Willis? He would’ve looked great in the middle of the Buffalo defense. Perhaps if they were able to land Willis, the run defense wouldn’t be nearly as horrible as it is today.
So now Lynch becomes the latest first round choice to flame out or move on away from the Bills. After all, you’d think by now the Bills would know the drill. It’s certainly not the first time this decade Buffalo has admitted making a mistake on a top tier draft choice. Since 2000, the Bills have had 12 first-round picks. Of those 13only seven remain: Lee Evans (2004), Donte Whitner and John McCargo (2006), Leodis McKelvin (2008), Aaron Maybin and Eric Wood (2009) and C.J. Spiller (2010).
The other six were either released (Erik Flowers and Mike Williams), traded (Willis McGahee and Marshawn Lynch), or not re-signed by the Bills (Nate Clements, J.P. Losman). It’s safe to place Flowers, Williams and Losman in the bust category. I wouldn’t necessarily label McGahee or Lynch as busts. Both enjoyed a few good years in Buffalo, but both also failed to live up to lofty expectations and failed to match those expectations with longevity. Of the six who didn’t last, Nate Clements is hands downs the best of the sad bunch. He had a very good career with the Bills and was signed to one of the richest defensive contracts in the history of the NFL by San Francisco.
Out of the first-rounders remaining on the Bills roster, none has been to the Pro Bowl, and not counting Lee Evans, it’s tough to pick out another bona fide starter if they were to play for another team. John McCargo is a total bust. Aaron Maybin is headed that way. We still don’t really know whether or not Leodis McKelvin can be a bigtime player. Eric Wood and Andy Levitre are in their second year while C.J. Spiller’s NFL career is four games old.
The Bills aren’t the only sports franchise guilty of poor evaluating and poor drafting, but with their bust list rapidly growing and their boom list with only a few names on it, Buffalo’s inability to come close to the bulls-eye is a stark reason why their playoff drought is a decade long.
It looks much worse if you were to go back and acknowledge some of the names the Bills left on the draft board.