Henry Hi-Jinx

With much recent speculation as to Travis Henry's disposition, Bills fans are understandably concerned and curious as to where he will land and what the Bills will get for him in the deal in exchange. So what can Bills fans expect?

Several teams have popped up as possible suitors for Henry with all being in warm climates and on grass, which would suit Henry fine given that he is originally from Florida. Tampa, Miami, and Arizona are all teams reported to have expressed interest. Other suggestions as teams that may pop up as expressing interest are Oakland, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Carolina, and Atlanta.

Of those teams, Arizona would likely be the best fit due to the fact that Henry's style is almost a carbon copy of Emmitt Smith's style and would require very little changing of their offense to accommodate Henry. As well, with the Cards' emphasis on their passing game in the past few drafts, their most immediate need is for a solid RB, which Henry would bring to the table. Look for a deal to get done there, especially since it will place Henry as far away from Buffalo media covering the competition between Henry and McGahee, both geographically as well as media wise. The Bills won't play the Cardinals again until 2008.

Rumor has it that the Cards are not willing to part with a 2nd round draft pick, 8th in the round and 40th overall. Regardless, some team will offer a deal and the Bills would be wise to accept it. Even the Cards' 3rd round pick (the 72nd overall) should be accepted if nothing better is offered from other teams. Henry figures to get little use this season for several reasons and would become a free agent next season. With the host of needs that the Bills have, an entirely different matter to be discussed in succeeding articles, getting a 2nd or 3rd round selection for what will amount to a little used RB that becomes a free agent after the season is a no-brainer. Then again…

Over the last ten games of the season, the Bills used a second running back for more than 4 carries on only four occasions, at least two of those four occasions with games already thoroughly in hand. Shaud Williams ran more than effectively on the vast majority of the secondary carries and is more than capable of doing the same again next season. Given the choice of an expendable bitter Henry for a single season, or a 2nd or 3rd round draft choice which has an opportunity to help the team for three or four seasons, perhaps more, the choice should be clear. The party line is that "the Bills need two RBs" for whatever the justification is. However, if McGahee either gets injured or underperforms, then this team has much greater issues than where to find a RB. It would translate to two of the Bills' riskiest moves having resulted in less than acceptable consequences with the third yet pending without indications either way.

What Bills fans can expect:

Expect Henry to be traded, yet perhaps not immediately. Henry takes up barely over a million dollars against the cap for this season so unlike the situation with Eric Moulds, the Bills will not be severely hindered in free agency if they tie up that cap space once free agency begins. The Bills can play hard ball in the negotiation up front, however, it would behoove them to have a deal for Henry in the works prior to the draft in late April, over a full three months from now.

Teams with a serious need for a RB will likely make a move in the draft to satisfy that need. Ergo, suitors for Henry will be much more abundant prior to the draft. As well, once free agency begins in six weeks or so, RB free agents will be available, competing with Henry yet with fewer strings attached for interested teams. So there is an additional motivation for the Bills to move Henry by the end of February.

What will Henry yield:

While some fans are hopeful of Henry fetching a 1st round draft pick, the truth be told, any team interested in Henry would likely be better suited expending a first round draft selection on one of the RBs which will be available in the draft. Henry also carries a significant recent injury history along with him, although at the same time he is just entering his prime countering that.

Look for Henry to fetch a mid-to-late 2nd rounder or an early 3rd round selection in this season's draft. The Bills have far too much rebuilding to do to turn down even a 3rd round selection in exchange for Henry.

What Bills fans should not expect:

Fans shouldn't expect Henry to end up in Miami. On a team run and managed by media perceptions and one that has made several very high risk, high opportunity cost, and not so wise moves, putting those moves under a microscope won't happen.

Henry's getting traded to Miami would do exactly that. It would pit the two RBs, Henry and McGahee in a showcase for the world to see, at least twice a season directly, more often indirectly. Both would reside in the AFC East and therefore have essentially the same schedule. Both would play each other directly twice a season. And fans of both teams would be comparing their performances on almost a week-to-week basis.

So why won't this happen? It most likely won't happen for those very reasons. Coming off of one failure, the biggest and most expensive failure of the Commander Tom era in Buffalo, as well as an extremely costly one to the team for seasons and now even into the future, Commander Tom will not set himself up to be put under the microscope giving the football-viewing world a front-row view as to the developing results of his next biggest decision. The logic is simple. If Willis McGahee were to get injured this season, then Commander Tom's second biggest player decision would instantaneously be deemed a failure. Once Henry is traded, if Henry has a bigger season than McGahee, then this would also challenge the good Commander's judgement. In fact, as has been stated often in the past, if Willis McGahee does not bear out to be at least an entire echelon better than Henry, then this move was not justified. Henry's being in Miami would simply highlight those developments.

In spite of the team not having admitted that bringing Humpty Dumpty over from New England was a poor decision and one which has cost the team in many ways, not to dwell on the fact that the same mistake was repeated last season, the results of that trade are as clear as a blue sky on a sunny day to anyone with a grain of objectivity. The lost first round selection, the salary expended, last season's decision not to free up $8 million in cap space not to mention avoid sinking yet another $5-6 million into the move as well as creating additional cap hits in the future or greater salaries in the $5 million range, sure could have built a heck of an offensive line during that same time period and for several seasons to come.

Whether or not Willis McGahee develops into the RB that greatly exceeds what Henry provided for two seasons remains to be seen. But wherever Henry ends up, and he should be dealt, do not expect it to be encased in a showcase. Fans will likely have to go out of their way this coming season to find ways to draw direct comparisons between Henry and McGahee.

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net

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