BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo Bills, with a overstock of talent at running back, ended months of speculation Tuesday by trading Marshawn Lynch to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a 4th round pick in next year's NFL Draft, as well as a conditional pick likely based on the amount of playing time Lynch sees for his new team.
Lynch, a 1st round pick (12th overall) in the 2007 draft, had been getting the bulk of the carries from the backfield leading up to the trade, which leaves the Bills with this year's 1st round draft pick, CJ Spiller, and Fred Jackson to carry the load at running back.
"I think we can pretty much assume they were showcasing him," said Tim Graham, who covers the AFC East for espn.com.
But if that's indeed true, then the Bills were wrong to do so according the nfl.com Senior Writer Vic Carucci.
"If that's what the Bills were doing for their first four games then shame on them," Carucci told WGRZ-TV. "This is the regular season and your objective should be to win, ...the pre-season is for showcasing talent," Carucci said.
Both experts agree that until Spiller develops, Lynch represented the Bills best option at running back. However, both agree that the Bills pretty much got what could be expected for Lynch in terms of his trade value.
Carucci believes the Bills, for a variety of reasons, were in a sense on the wrong end of a buyer's market for a running back.
"He's worth what someone's willing to give you when they know very well you've got too many players at one spot, you're 0-4, and you're struggling and may not be going anywhere," Carucci said.
Graham also believes Lynch's two prior brushes with the law since he joined the league lowered his value.
"He's one mistake away from a long term suspension, ...although he has conducted himself well for the past year-and-a-half," Graham said.
Though he's likely to get more carries as a result of the trade, Spiller isn't entirely happy to see Lynch go.
"He's a great guy, he loves his teammates, and he he gives it his all when he's out there. (Seattle) is getting a great player and teammate," Spiller told 2 On Your Side
In just over a week (after cutting the season's starting QB Trent Edwards) the Bills have purged two of their top three picks from the 2007 draft.
"Back in 2008 people looked at this draft potentially rivaling the great Bill Polian drafts during the (Bills) Superbowl years," noted Graham.
Graham and Carucci say the recent purge of players once billed as the future of the franchise, the 0-4 start to their season, and the likelihood that the Bills will fail to sell out a home game for the first time in more than three seasons, are signs of continued turmoil for a team that's overextended the patience of fans who have grown weary of "rebuilding" efforts.
"The thing that is sickening is that (other) teams have been good, gotten bad, and rebuilt a couple of times in the span that it's taken the Bills to go through their process once," said Graham.
Carucci believes the Bills have reached a pivotal point in their history.
"Oh, absolutely. It's bigger than just saying the wins and losses aren't what you'd like to see as a fan. You're talking about the very real possibility of an 11th consecutive non-playoff season. Then, when you start seeing the decline in attendance which is likely to happen through the balance of the season, in an economy that makes it harder for people to justify paying to watch a bad football team, you have to wonder what's the big picture and what is the future?"
Added Graham: "Who knows how long this team is going to be in Buffalo, and when you are frittering away your opportunities to be a playoff team and to give yourself some pleasure on a Sunday afternoon, I think that's when it becomes depressing for Bills fans."