What Does Bledsoe's Imminent Departure Mean?

First of all it means a great deal of jubilation for fed up fans tired of having a team led by those believing that a "name" would get them anywhere. Second of all it means Commander Tom's biggest decision having cost this team three seasons as well as a season of Losman's development. Throw on top of that enough lost opportunity cost last season to build a playoff caliber offensive line easily, and the downsides of Humpty's having been on the Bills outweigh the pros in landslide fashion.

It also means that there likely will not be a host of season ticket holder defections which no doubt would have occurred had Humpty remained the starter. Talk of Losman "not being ready" is simply absurd. If J.P. Losman is not truly ready to step in and take his lumps, then whomever was responsible for drafting him in the first round while trading away additional draft selections ought to be released as well on the 22nd of the month. Drafting Losman in the first round and allowing him to sit until at least his third season, while consistent with the expectations of the management methodologies of the team, is simply not an option.

Losman's presence will mean extra work for Willis McGahee to carry the burden. In the 2003 season, Humpty played as poorly as he ever has played while Travis Henry carried this team on his shoulders entirely and for nearly half a season with a broken leg. Henry was on pace for over 1,500 yards had he played the entire season. So the expectations for McGahee are at least that. This puts Commander Tom's second biggest move during his tenure, after a miserably failed first move now, on the hot seat for this upcoming season. Perhaps this will "entice" the good GM to get some real linemen, a would-be novel approach for good Commander.

One thing is for sure, watching obviously blitzing safeties and OLBs coming off the corner shellacking Humpty as the ball goes tumbling out of his control should be a thing of the past. While Losman's mobility makes that of Humpty appear to be a notch above inert, he will still have a steep learning curve. But this additional element of mobility should certainly make for additional excitement.

As well, while many seem to believe that Losman replacing Humpty will cost the team games, I view that assertion as absurd as well. The Bills should have absolutely no trouble putting away the types of teams that they have beaten with Humpty at the helm. Where the difference will lie is the lack of the quantity of powderpuff teams on the schedule if this season's standards are applied to next season. Fans and media should be forewarned and not be fooled by what is sure to be a "placing of the blame" on Losman's shoulders when it should more aptly be applied to a much tougher schedule coming off of a season having featured one of the easier schedules that the Bills have had.

One thing is for certain and that is that the timing of the "coming together" of the team could not have been managed more disjointedly. Other than the fact that had Humpty been released last season, an enormous blunder which would have freed $8 million in cap space as well as the other nearly $6 million that his restructuring cost not to mention the over $4 million cap hit that will now be realized after Humpty refuses to acquiesce into a backup role, other portions of the team are now approaching states of disarray and talent depletion either due to age or contract status. This was a shameful display of cap management not to mention overall mismanagement of the team's moving forward as a unit.

Throw in the fact that after this season the Bills have another key wave of key free agents coming up for free agency, and in addition to the already glaring needs, it would appear that this team has yet to put it all together in "all departments" for a serious run. On a team with many of its key players aging, the issues abound. Throw in a tougher schedule, and while Commander Tom needs to have the team finish better than the 9-7 that it was this past season, the realities of the situation scream that once again, if the Bills can achieve 8-8 that they'll be doing well.

Either way, fans will need to be patient with the rookie Losman. Sure, Ben Roethlisburger shattered the rookie model of expectations, but let's be real for a moment, he was certainly the exception and not the rule.

Moving on, the recent restructuring of Eric Moulds leaves the WR, now on his downside, as overcompensated. After a $5 million signing bonus and a $1.5 million salary, of the remaining $18 million, $11.5 is due in each of the next two seasons with the details not released but presumably in the form of roster bonuses and salary. This is simply too much for a second WR at what will be 33 and 34 and one that is known for dropping balls at key times and one with scoring production not anywhere close to on par with such compensation.

Nevertheless, something had to be done for this season given the fact that releasing Moulds would have resulted in an equal outlay in order to replace him for this season. On the merits of that alone, for this season the restructuring was justifiable. The problems with this restructured contract will arise next season or the following should Moulds' performance continue to taper off.

Nate Clements, Terrence McGee, and Coy Wire all become free agents next season as well. With Troy Vincent sliding over to play safety along side the mercenary and overpaid Milloy, the Bills have only Nate Clements as a cornerback with proven abilities to start regularly at the position. Barring a younger player stepping up in accordance with the Bills' storied past of developing cornerbacks, Clements' departure would necessarily pose some tough issues for next offseason.

As such, the team should already begin to work on extending Clements and there's no time like the present. At 25, Clements is among the top 25% CBs in the league and likely will become even better this season as he begins to enter his prime. The Bills should seek to lock his services up, practically speaking not contractually speaking, through the 2010 season. It will cost less now than it will next season. The sooner such a deal gets done, the greater the value will be.

On a side note regarding Humpty's imminent departure, it has been reported that Humpty has stated that he wants to start and is therefore not satisfied with a backup role. Note to Humpty: After your football career, consider comedy as an option.

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net

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