Jennings, Moulds, Henry Have Edge in Negotiations

Eric Moulds' statements at the end of the season certainly were no ‘vote of confidence' for Humtpy. What are Jennings' feelings for protecting a QB on the most important side when Humtpy cannot even see blatant sacks coming from his open side and simply cannot get it done in any game vs. an above average defense? It is already perfectly clear that Henry wants out of Buffalo for a variety of reasons.

Yet, Bills' management apparently sees tinkering yet again with Humpty's retention, in what has now become not only an annual effort, but a glaringly futile effort of all the king's horses and all the king's men in attempting to put Humpty together again, as a worthwhile exercise. Naivete certainly screams at the top of its lungs that this infatuation with Humpty is certainly personal for Commander Tom & Co. There remains absolutely no logical or sensible reason for the positions of the team.

Commander Tom has correctly "read the tea leaves" that even a blind man could read in this instance and at least put a band-aid on a pending disaster in terms of ticket sales for 2005. It is a real shame that it takes such pressure from fans and media however. But hey, Commander Tom is a GM that lives and dies by marketing and the media.

What Bills fans need to watch for this offseason is whether or not the Bills sign Jennings and Moulds. Both will be barometers as to the "behind the scenes" attitude of the team. Both may also very well be predicated on what Humpty's disposition is. Has Commander Tom's pet project finally been terminated? Not if his statements are to be believed. Even then, as of yet, they have not formally come down hard, they have only softened their "Humpty gives us the best chances of winning" nonsense. That entire notion runs parallel to that of one's best chances of winning the Daytona 500 being best in a factory pick-up truck.

Humpty had the full support of both GM and coach immediately following the season. Make no mistake, Commander Tom and now Coach Mularkey's hesitancy, and delay, in coming down hard on Humpty has everything to do with the sentiments of media and fans. It was only after a cascade of media, at national as well as local levels, and fan criticism that Commander Tom softened his stance on Humpty. Commander Tom's entire philosophy is built on media hype and perceptions, not on substance and execution on the field. Oh the heartache! "What's a girl to do." This offseason will reveal whether the Bills continue to stick with the "wooden-headed" Humpty or move on in the interests of the future and success of this franchise in terms of actually winning games, something that would be a real novelty in Buffalo.

The decision for anyone truly concerned about the team moving forward is simple; release Humpty outright. He has no trade value. If released, it's unlikely that he would even start on any team next season. Absurd notions that he "is the best chances for the Bills winning" anything other than early invitations to pro-am golf tournaments in January are simply ludicrous. Anyone with an ounce of vision would have released him last season in exchange for the cornucopia of resources which would have opened up and helped out this team for years to come. Ergo, the problem in Buffalo these days.

Jonas Jennings' signing is pivotal if the Bills expect to truly be competitive next season. The only other linemen that the Bills possess which are worth mentioning as starters are Chris Villarrial who will be 32 next season, is year-to-year for serviceability now and suffering from chronic nagging injuries; Trey Teague who is in a contract year this upcoming season, has a wrist issue possibly requiring surgery, and was signed to a poor contract to begin with to play LT for the Bills and was moved to C in a desperation move; and the former first-rounder and now project, Big Mike Williams. The Bills possess no up-and-coming young lineman and do not even have five solid starters. After next season Teague and Villarrial's contributions to this line will be both below average and diminishing. They have not a single other lineman above average.

This leaves Jennings clearly in the driver's seat in this negotiation. He is the cornerstone of this Bills line and the difference between what may be an average line and what may be the onset of the disintegration of this current line and he fully knows it. This situation has developed due to negligence and lack of vision in piecing together a serviceable line over the past two seasons. If the Bills do resign Jennings, then they are likely to overpay for him. The free agency market will likely pay Jennings more than the Bills are in a position to pay. Fans should remember this when they consider the $8 million worth of cap space and actual money that the Bills could have had by releasing Humpty last season along with another over $4 million now that will remain dead cap space should Humpty be released and not even mentioning the $5 million or so that was paid him for this past season.

Moulds will likely await the team's disposition with Humpty as his season ending statements were anything but a vote-of-confidence in Humpty, his play, and his abilities to move this team forward. If there is any doubt that Humpty will be gone, expect Moulds not to be with the Bills in '05. Moulds simply has to refuse to restructure to become a free agent. The Bills should have this figured out by the time that free-agency begins so as not to miss out on signing opportunities while Moulds' nearly $9 million dollars consumes precious cap space which would hinder other signings. Time is on Moulds' side in this negotiation.

Moulds will be 32 entering next season, an age at which all receivers begin to see diminishing production due to age-related issues. Moulds' best chances for a decent contract over the next few years are now, not after it becomes glaringly obvious, even to the Bills front office blind men, that he is nothing other than a second tier WR.

He has much utility to the Bills, but his average-per-catch has fallen annually since the '98 season, his scoring production has also diminished by-and-large and all things considered since then as well. This season also saw Moulds "hand the baton" to rookie "uber-receiver" Lee Evans in what was a clear "changing of the guard", casting further doubt on Moulds' return. Moulds' inconsistency and consistently dropped balls in key situations also hamper his value to the team. Moulds is a $2-3 million wide receiver in this league by current standards but perhaps has slightly more value to the Bills for reasons of existing chemistry. Good receivers are neither expensive nor difficult to find in free agency. Moulds will immediately need to resign himself to equal or lesser status of Lee Evans in offensive game plans if he returns to the team.

Travis Henry should be traded and the Bills are also not in the driver's seat regarding him contrary to some reports. The Bills talk much about "needing two premier running backs", but the fact of the matter is that this is still Commander Tom's team and he will run it according to what is in his own best interests, not necessarily those of the team as fans have seen in several forms now, most notably the entire Humpty charade.

As such, Commander Tom will do everything that he can to leave absolutely no doubt that his Willis McGahee signing was the proper choice for the Bills. After a severe Humpty failure, he cannot allow his next biggest move, Willis McGahee, to suffer from anything approaching justifiable scrutiny. Ergo, anyone truly believing that Travis Henry will be given any significant time with the first unit next season is likely dreaming. Oh the impending media disaster should Henry outshine McGahee and then Henry walk at season's end as would assuredly happen. Given that McGahee has not outplayed the Henry of 2002/2003, Commander Tom is no doubt concerned about this developing situation.

At present, unlike Humpty, Henry has a trade value. There are two caveats for any team interested in Henry. The first is his injury status and concerns; the second is that his contract only runs through 2005 and therefore he would have to be willing to resign with the new team for them to be willing to part with anything significant in trade. The Bills would be foolish not to trade Henry before he walks next season leaving only the change in his locker for the Bills. At present, he may fetch and mid-to-low second rounder or a high 3rd given these circumstances on a straight-up deal. The choices are a rarely used RB who's justifiably bitter at the team consuming a roster spot or a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick which may end up being a serviceable player for several to many seasons to come.

Henry enters next season at 26 and turns 27 midseason, and is on the onset of his prime. Given the manner in which the Bills have treated him, he deserves an opportunity to be traded. As well, the Bills need to be concerned with their image in their handling of similar players in the future and how they treat Henry may be a barometer against which other players may make decisions. As well, per above, it is in the interests of the Bills for them to move Henry now also. Shaud Williams should be able to fill in for McGahee just fine given that he showed more speed and quickness than McGahee when given the opportunity and overall outplayed McGahee albeit in much more limited action. The Bills would be foolish not to trade Henry. Not trading Henry can only be construed as a move made out of spite at this point.

This leaves Henry somewhat in the driver's seat when it is all added up. Another thought not much discussed if at all, is the possibility of the Bills trading both Henry and Moulds in a package deal perhaps netting a late first-rounder or early second-rounder. Whatever happens, look for the media and marketing oriented Commander Tom to attempt to recoup a first round draft pick for purposes of giving the fans "something to get excited about" next season.

Nevertheless, once again, the Bills just don't get it! Recent reports have the Bills stating that they will ask Humpty to restructure in favor of the team. They are so enamored and infatuated with Humpty that now it's all about a reduction in compensation. Where are the concerns for simple performance, and that especially against the better teams in the league. Again, more on that in a week or two if Humpty is not released by then.

As well, the question which has been asked for three seasons running now is once again raised to a high profile; if a player is incapable of "getting the job done", then how does reducing his compensation in one form or another increase those chances? The answer, it doesn't! Only a Commander Tom led team would attempt to take a QB, or other player, that simply is not "cutting the mustard" at all, and boil it down to a reduction in pay/compensation.

Hey fellas, the media now gets it, so do the fans, we all realize it will shatter your personal dreams, but how about just releasing Humpty outright and moving this team in a forward direction for a change. Your horrible foresight and utter lack of vision last season already cost us an enormous opportunity to rebuild for the future beginning with what would have been immediately last season and lasting a good number of seasons. Why do you insist on continually clinging to a horrible decision now made blatantly obvious to anyone with a grain of objectivity while continuing to add resources wasted and opportunities lost to the immense heap of already enormous costs and detriment to this team! Inquiring minds want to know.

It makes one wonder if that question will appear in Commander Tom's Q&A. No matter, somehow his answer to it is transparently obvious.

Release Humpty and be done with it!


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