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Bills made smart, decisive move to dump Evans

Lee Evans AP

We’ve heard from plenty of Bills fans tonight that their favorite team traded receiver Lee Evans to the Ravens for a fourth-round draft pick.  This tells three things.  First, said Bills fans weren’t reading PFT this afternoon, or they’d already know this.  Second, said Bills fans read only the first page of the Rumor Mill, missing all but the most recent 15 stories.  Or, third, Bills fans are still looking for any way to vent about the move that they can.

Most of the fans likely fall into the third category, especially based on the content of the messages we’ve received.  Many think that the Bills are folding the tents even before the season begins.  Though we realize that more than a decade of futility would cause Buffalo fans to fear the worst, we think it made sense to move on.

First, Evans had the worst season statistically of his career in 2010, which also happened to be the first season featuring Ryan Fitzpatrick as the full-time starter.  If those two simply don’t click like they should, there’s no reason to keep Evans around.

Second, Steve Johnson has emerged as the No. 1 wideout.  That changing of the guard can create awkwardness and discomfort in the locker room.  It makes sense to remove that dynamic before it gets in the way of what could be a better season than expected.

Third, with Johnson drawing double coverage based on his breakout performance in 2010, the Bills can plug in cheaper options at No. 2 and enjoy similar production.

Fourth, while Evans was one of the best players throughout a bad stretch for the Bills, he has only two 1,000-yard years in seven NFL seasons, and he’s a zero-time Pro Bowler.

Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, coach Chan Gailey has had a full year to study Evans, and Gailey has decided that, for whatever reason, Evans no longer justified the $3.3 million he was due to earn each of the next two years.

Right or wrong, the Bills seem to be a no-nonsense bunch under G.M. Buddy Nix.  Sure, some of their decisions will end up being wrong (and every team that makes decisions will make some bad decisions from time to time), but the Bills are trying to get better, even if to the casual fan a trade of one of the few widely-recognizable names on the team looks like the opposite.

And the Ravens, given what they otherwise have, made a smart move to bring Evans in.  He should complement Anquan Boldin well, and Evans could get plenty of attention from quarterback Joe Flacco.

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43 Responses to “Bills made smart, decisive move to dump Evans”
  1. xstaticonradio says: Aug 12, 2011 9:04 PM

    Yeah I’m sure you know more than us Bills fans who watch every down of every game. SJ13 is the real deal, yes, but we know he was able to explode so easily because Lee Evans was double and triple covered nearly every play. Stevie J is a better overall receiver, but without Lee we do not have a deep threat and we have no one to stretch the field.

    For YEARS, the Bills front office talked about wanting to get another legit starting WR to play across from Evans in order to maximize his potential. We finally get one and we…trade Evans?

    It’s stupid, and you know nothing if you disagree.

  2. benh999 says: Aug 12, 2011 9:07 PM

    Fitz is just so good anyone off the street can come in and be productive catching passes from him.

  3. drtybirds27 says: Aug 12, 2011 9:11 PM

    Ehh a great move by the birds

  4. iflounder says: Aug 12, 2011 9:13 PM

    i agree with you, but prepare to feel the menstrual cycle of bills fans.

  5. mrizzo44 says: Aug 12, 2011 9:20 PM

    As a Bills fan, who has watched every play of Lee Evans’ career….I agree 100%

    He has been mediocre for the last 3 years, and steadly declining. He didn’t seem to fit in this offense (Chan has said that he prefers bigger, physical WR’s… and Lee is DEFINITELY not that), and he was getting paid close to $5 million (after bonuses). Time to move on. He seems like a good guy, but I’m glad they were able to get something for him.

  6. tfbuckfutter says: Aug 12, 2011 9:21 PM

    “Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, coach Chan Gailey has had a full year to study Evans, and Gailey has decided that, for whatever reason, Evans no longer justified the $3.3 million he was due to earn each of the next two years.”

    —————————————–

    I’m not taking a side one way or the other because, I mean….it’s the Bills. I thought they joined the CFL 2 years ago so I have no idea whats going on as far as their talent…..

    That said, however, this particular statement presupposes that the Bills front office made a wise decision in hiring Gailey as a decision maker.

    So you are relying on the upper management of a franchise that hasn’t been relevant since 1999 to have made a sound decision in hiring a sound decision maker.

    Sounds suspect.

  7. buffalotears says: Aug 12, 2011 9:28 PM

    no.no.no.no…… SJ13 was so effective because of the pressure Lee Evans takes off of him. Throwing him to the legit #1 receiving spot after a breakout year is not a smart idea when you have a leader like Evans. Furthermore, SJ13 LOVED Evans continually said through all the rumors that letting Evans go would be a mistake because of his leadership. I fail to see any positives in how the “Bills made smart, decisive move to dump Evans”… The deep threat is gone. And how often do you see a 4th round pick actually stick in the NFL? I would take two more years of forcing teams to double cover than a 4th any day. This deal just reeks of RW going on the cheap…. as always!

  8. semperfi24 says: Aug 12, 2011 9:36 PM

    xstaticonradio, that is why you arent in charge of a football team. Because the people in charge of your favorite team DISAGREE WITH YOU. So who is stupid, the fans that agree with your teams front of office, or the fans that only agree with you? Fans arent always going to agree with the moves that “their” team makes, but people are hired to make those decisions, and though you might think that sitting in front of the tv every sunday makes you more qualified than them to run the team, truth is it doesnt

  9. plum13sec says: Aug 12, 2011 9:41 PM

    The Ravens will know how to utilize evans. dont expect more than 800 yards receiving though. Too many players to spread the ball around to, including sophmore TE Ed Dickinson (who most will know by seasons end)

  10. plum13sec says: Aug 12, 2011 9:42 PM

    ^*Dickson

  11. al0049 says: Aug 12, 2011 9:48 PM

    xstaticonradio says:Aug 12, 2011 9:04 PM
    Yeah I’m sure you know more than us Bills fans who watch every down of every game. SJ13 is the real deal, yes, but we know he was able to explode so easily because Lee Evans was double and triple covered nearly every play. Stevie J is a better overall receiver, but without Lee we do not have a deep threat and we have no one to stretch the field.
    For YEARS, the Bills front office talked about wanting to get another legit starting WR to play across from Evans in order to maximize his potential. We finally get one and we…trade Evans?
    It’s stupid, and you know nothing if you disagree.

    All I can say is that you are right. I have so some much stuff that is going through my mind right now that I don’t know where to start and if I did I will get kick off the board. All I do know is that, that is why we are not in the playoff because people upstairs do stupid and dumb stuff like this.

  12. dclogicatlast says: Aug 12, 2011 10:33 PM

    @semperfi24

    I had no idea that GMs are never wrong and above criticism.

    By your logic Detroit Lion fans should have never criticized Matt Millen. Drafting 4 WRs in the 1st round is obviosuly a genius thing to do. I can honestly say I (or anyone really) could run a better football organization than him by sitting on my couch with a magic 8 ball.

    Results >>> Qualifications

  13. jealousyisanuglything says: Aug 12, 2011 10:41 PM

    Sure it is a great pick up for the rat turds ( oh sorry the ravens) if Slacco (oh sorry Flacco) can manage to get the ball to him

  14. al0049 says: Aug 12, 2011 10:48 PM

    Like I said I am a long time bills fan and this is the results that I see. At the end of the day this is how are season going to end. By week 5 or 6 Ralph Wilson will had a enough of the losing business and fired buddy Nix and Chan of what they did and then the up in coming draft the bills will be on the clock with the first pick in the draft 2012.

  15. kgunforhire says: Aug 12, 2011 11:17 PM

    As painful as it is to see Evans go, I can’t disagree with the move primarily for the reasons stated in the article. I assume that the 4th rd compensation was the best they could get but it’s unfortunate they couldn’t get a better deal. Evans deserves an opportunity to play for a winning team. He stuck with the Bills and their mediocrity through his prime years. I wish him nothing but the best and part of me will root for the Ravens.
    The roster is deep at WR and David Nelson started to come on as last season progressed. The hope is that Marcus Easley steps up with the starting job opening up. Parrish and Jones offer depth at the position so it’s not like Fitz is working with nothing. I definitely don’t see this as a white flag by Bills management. Just a move that had to be done while value was still there. Add another one of my jerseys to the “throwback” part of my closet.

  16. bills87 says: Aug 12, 2011 11:27 PM

    Ok… The last 2 years the Bills brought in a starting WR(Owens, S. Johnson) opposite Evans to maximize his potential. Those two years, he has not maximized this potential. He’s put up mediocre numbers. Bills fans are overreacting and thinking this offense is going to tank because we traded our 3rd best WR.

    Yes, Stevie will see a hell of a lot more double and triple coverage. Yes, the team will struggle a bit until one of the 4 or 5 VERY talented young recievers on this roster establishes himself opposite Johnson. The WR corps of the Bills may be young, but there are some hungry young players that are ecstatic because of this move as it gives them an opportunity and I believe they will make the most out of it.

    Evans does not fit the offense Gailey runs. It was pretty obvious last year. Hailey and Nix believes in the recievers we have and they gush about them constantly in pressers.

    Lets see what happens this season before we assemble the mob at OBD

  17. buffalose says: Aug 12, 2011 11:43 PM

    stop with ralph wilson is cheap thing. the dude quit making decisions 2 years ago. sadly, the right move but i sure wish the could got a little higher draft pick than the ravens 4th

  18. rolandsloan says: Aug 13, 2011 12:27 AM

    1. Lee Evans. Great guy,slightly above average
    receiver overall,above average deep threat.
    2. Ryan Fitzpatrick,decent Quarterback, not the greatest arm for throwing deep ball.
    3. Bills offense currently predicated on larger, tougher possession type receivers who are yards after catch types.
    4. Just wish Bills could’ve got a “body” for Lee instead of a 4th round pick.
    5. Good luck Lee.

  19. semperfi24 says: Aug 13, 2011 12:40 AM

    dclogic, I never said GM’s are never wrong or above criticism. I simply take offense to some monday morning QB who is going to make some asinine statement like : “It’s stupid, and you know nothing if you disagree.” Really, we all “know nothing” if we disagree with your assessment? Buffalo is really going to miss those 35 catches, 500 yards, and 3 touch downs…..LMFAO

    Many coaches, many gm’s make bad decisions every day. Some, like Matt Millen in your example, simply excel at making bad decisions.

  20. polishkingski says: Aug 13, 2011 12:47 AM

    thanks for the sanity mikey. it was a wise move. i give local fans more credit than they deserve. the bills are heading in the right direction after ten years in the wilderness.

  21. billyhoyle4real says: Aug 13, 2011 1:49 AM

    Thank you PFT. Normally I find your posts about my beloved Bills to be nothing short of mocking, this however echoes the same thing I have been saying all day. This move was great. Gives the young guys a chance to out produce Evans numbers or fall flat on their face and give the organization the green light to find some talent that can produce. We’ll never know what a 2nd year guy can do when he is on the bench. Getting these Hutson the field helps us grow and find out what we really have… Based on twitter we have an aging CB who just renewed and wishes he tested the FA market… Tough luck Drayton Florence. We’ll win later, like when we trade you for a 6th rd pick that will end up being practice squad material.

  22. mvjim says: Aug 13, 2011 2:58 AM

    Lee Evans is a genuinely classy person and a good football player whom Buffalo owes a big thanks to. He was a role model for today’s youth as he gave back to the community. Recently however, watching him run his routes, he had trouble getting separation from the cover corners and, thus, became a one-dimensional long ball threat and not the bread and butter guy that is your #1 receiver.

    I wish Lee the very best and success with Baltimore. He deserves it. As for the Bills, the 4th round pick gives them ammunition to acquire much needed help on the offensive line as a 4th round pick is still a quality pick. This trade helps both teams which makes it a very fair trade.

  23. trbowman says: Aug 13, 2011 3:51 AM

    Bills fans are a very overdramatic bunch to say the least. Trading Evans was a great move.

  24. leninthebuff says: Aug 13, 2011 6:29 AM

    I think it is a good move for both Buffalo and Evans, as Evans gets to go to a playoff contender and Buffalo gets another draft pick. Evans didn’t fit Chans offense and Buffalo is going nowhere this year so the move made sense. Nix and Gailey came in with a plan and they are sticking to it as they have cleaned house in the short time they have been here and drafted their type of players. Our ‘D’ stunk last year and they pretty much dedicated this years draft to rectify that problem. Next year I can see them going after their QB and some OT’s. I can understand our fans frustrations but if that 4th rounder is part of a package that brings us that franchise QB we need everyone will forget about the Lee Evans trade in a heartbeat. Nix and Gailey shouldn’t be judged till after their third draft and I like what they have done so far.

  25. EJ says: Aug 13, 2011 8:00 AM

    xstaticonradio says:Aug 12, 2011 9:04 PM
    Yeah I’m sure you know more than us Bills fans who watch every down of every game. SJ13 is the real deal, yes, but we know he was able to explode so easily because Lee Evans was double and triple covered nearly every play. Stevie J is a better overall receiver, but without Lee we do not have a deep threat and we have no one to stretch the field.
    For YEARS, the Bills front office talked about wanting to get another legit starting WR to play across from Evans in order to maximize his potential. We finally get one and we…trade Evans?
    It’s stupid, and you know nothing if you disagree.

    I have been a Bills Fan for 22years, I totally AGREE with you. SJ benefited from having Evans in… Leadership, drawing coverage. We finally get that good player opposite Lee(deep threat) and what do they do, they toss Evans for a fourth rd pick? Nix needs to stop relying on stats, trying to go by the books for what each position should look like. If the player isn’t prototypical, Nix Nixed them.
    So whats next? Roscoe Parrish on his way out because he is 35lbs under the typical weight for WR?
    Maybe hiring somebody named Buddy to form a winning tradition was Ralph Wilson’s first mistake????
    Go Bills!!!!

  26. rebelphotographer says: Aug 13, 2011 8:46 AM

    Call me crazy, but isn’t the larger point here that you need a better quarterback?

  27. blackbug99 says: Aug 13, 2011 8:51 AM

    Lee doesn’t have a criminal record or 12 illegitimate kids, so I don’t know how he’ll make it in Baltimore…J/K Raven fans!!! (not like we Bill’s fans don’t get our share!)

    He’s a quiet leader and sometimes a change of scenery brings out the best in people. You got a deal, and it was time the Bills moved on.

    Best of luck, Lee!!! Fair Winds and Following Seas!

  28. juiceboxsupply says: Aug 13, 2011 8:59 AM

    when it finally looks like the offense is turning the corner, what do we do? instantly turn the receiving corp, one of the few (and maybe only) real strengths of the team into a question mark. what are the chances that fourth round pick turns into a respected veteran that sucks db’s away from other receivers and can blow the top off any nfl defense?

  29. edukator4 says: Aug 13, 2011 9:10 AM

    just because their are people on the roster at a position does not mean the team is “deep” at that position. the last time buffalo was deep at wr they had jim kelly throwing the ball.
    what buffalo has is a bunch of young unproven wrs. parrish, nelson, and davis would not be on the same team anywhere else in the league maybe cleveland or the rams

  30. yzguy431 says: Aug 13, 2011 9:36 AM

    how would you know what the lockerroom dynamic would be? as a practical matter, this is another story with little more value than to fill page space.

  31. blackbug99 says: Aug 13, 2011 10:18 AM

    Call me crazy, but isn’t the larger point here that you need a better quarterback?
    ——————————————–
    I see your point! But, what good is one w/o the other? A great QB can sometimes lead mediocrity to greatness. But, a great WR can’t throw to himself!!

  32. rebelphotographer says: Aug 13, 2011 11:24 AM

    @blackbug99

    I totally see what you’re saying. I was just pointing out that – in all the back and forth banter about whether or not it was a good idea to get rid of Evans – no one said anything about the fact that the guy throwing the ball isn’t exactly what you’d call an elite quarterback. I really think THAT is the bigger issue. Besides, I’d take an elite QB with subpar receivers over an average QB with outstanding wideouts any day.

  33. billsjetsfan says: Aug 13, 2011 11:31 AM

    Other bills fans need to wake up and realize that Evans is not all that good and hasn’t been anything more than alright in the last few seasons. just cuz the guy has been on the team for awhile doesn’t mean he should be there. I don’t know what other people see because Evans in no way helps the bills be any better. Personally I’m not at all sad to see him go. I wish him luck in Baltimore but Bills fans seriously need to realize that dumping Evans is not that big of a deal. It really doesn’t make us any worse and he was set to make WAY too much money. Besides they got exactly what he was worth, a 4th round pick, hahaha.

  34. buffaloheartbreak says: Aug 13, 2011 11:56 AM

    i just don’t see the point of trading him right now for a 4th round pick. with our recent luck at drafting that might s well have been a ham sandwich. if he was making problems in the locker room, fine, but i seriously doubt that was the case. lee evans has had a great attitude ever since he got into buffalo, and he’s had more than a few reasons to blow his top.

    what’s the point of saving his $3 million+ salary if we’re already $20 million under the cap? if we’re freeing up cash to trade for a decent tackle, great. otherwise it’s just buffalo being cheap for no reason.

    maybe he’s not the player he was, but he’s still a legitimate deep threat that could really help the young WRs by drawing coverage as well as mentoring them in the locker room. i just finish reading an article about how the bills WRs could cause some serious matchup problems for opposing defenses when we go five-wide, giving me my first glimmer of slight optimism about the season, and then this happens. not happy about this.

  35. buffaloheartbreak says: Aug 13, 2011 12:00 PM

    also, i don’t understand why everyone is so quick to replace fitz. his play last season was the best quarterbacking we’ve had since bledsoe left. let’s let least see what he brings in the next few months before we start dreaming about andrew luck. this team has many, many holes and i’d rather not have us roll the dice on a rookie QB if we don’t need to.

  36. boothisman says: Aug 13, 2011 1:27 PM

    Thought the Ravens were ‘getting younger’ hahahahahahah good job bashing the Steelers and their fans in the other thread about signing an ‘old wr’ and then this… oh too funny… just goes to show how little the Ravens ‘fans’ know about the team. hahahahahahahahahaha have fun challenging the Bungles and Browns for last place in the division.

  37. richc111 says: Aug 13, 2011 2:02 PM

    A few comments here coming from a long time Bills fan. 1st – Lee Evens is a talent – he suffered for years playing here so good he got out. You couldn’t get more than a 4th round (which is really more like a 5th rounds because Baltimore should finish in the top 10 again maybe even a top 5. Ok, so you got a 5th round pick. Not Good, I say do a better job and get more. I find it hard to believe that they couldn’t have gotten more. What bother me more is that the body of work the new group is putting together now they have a history does not look very good. I am having the same feeling that we have had here too many times in the past. We are in year two of what will end in 2 more years. Let’s look at a few things they have done. Draft Spiller 9th overall. This year the top RB was taken 28th overall. The whole talk was that no one needs to take RB’s anymore. Spiller in his first year ranked 59th in rushing in the league last year just behind Brad Smith (the WR the Bills just signed). The next 3 RB’s taken (some in the late 2nd round) were all ahead of him. But ok, let’s give them a pass. Let’s move to Merriman. They give a big contract to a LB who has not shown any of his past ability for years. To the point where they sign him last year and NEVER SEES THE FIELD because he gets hurt in practice. So what so they do. Sign him to the big contract before the lock out. It was even noted on this site that LB were signing for significantly less after the lock out that before and that the Bill’s were on of the teams that made that mistake. Now they are signing retreads from the past of Gailey and Nix (this includes Merriman) Thigpen, Craig Davis ? Are you kidding me, Craig Davis. Here’s a funny one. All of their 2011 draft choices came from the same geographical area. Southeast with the exception of 1 guy who was just plain out south. After 2 year they have only drafted 2 guys that did not play in the Southeast. That is just weird. Let’s just look at NE and the NYJ. NE in the last 2 years 40% of the players from outside the Southeast and the Jets got 60%. So 14% looks weird right! Anyway, we are in the middle of another losing organization heading no where.

  38. dtarlow32 says: Aug 13, 2011 2:09 PM

    another wr for cam cameron to misuse

  39. rabidbillsfan says: Aug 13, 2011 2:53 PM

    I respect you as a blogger and analyst. However, you really messed this one up. To say Evans had the worst statistical season is completely false. He missed 3 games last season, therefore his averages exceeded his previous to seasons through 13 games. To the comment on Fitz and Lee, that is also completely false. In 8 games without Fitz in the last 2 seasons Lee’s stats were 23 grabs, for 236 YDS. and 1 TD. In 21 games with, 53 grabs, 854 YDS. and 10 TDs. He also was never held catch-less when Fitz was in a game. Also, Stevie will regress this season without the presence of another proven WO. Its not so much I am angry that Lee was traded, but for a 4th? Really Buddy? Not even a conditional pick? There is no doubt in my mind Lee will exceed 1000 yds. There is no one on this team that can replace Evans this year, I am just very disappointed.

  40. mrizzo44 says: Aug 13, 2011 3:29 PM

    By the way, to all of the people saying that Steve Johnson had a great year because of all of the attention that defenses gave Lee….you are wrong.

    I went to most of the home games last year, and I sat on the 50 yard line, upper deck. From there, you get a great view of the receivers/defense backs. And the defenses almost always shaded the coverage towards Stevie Johnson…not Lee Evans.

    And also, in 2010, Stevie Johnson averaged 5.1 catches for 67 yards, per game. In the 3 games that Evans missed last year, Johnson averaged…..5.3 catches for 66 yards.

    You really think Evans helped Johnson???

  41. likwid_lunch says: Aug 13, 2011 4:43 PM

    Good move for the angry birds

  42. grant444 says: Aug 15, 2011 11:54 AM

    Ravens lost great guys over the middle in Heap & Mason Seems to me they didn’t need a long ball threat vs a chain-mover.

  43. rabidbillsfan says: Aug 15, 2011 2:51 PM

    @Mrizzo

    Dude, anywhere in the upper deck you get a good view of the safties/DB’s. Congrats… And how do you know that the D shaded the the coverage to Stevie? Were you videotaping for the Pats?

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