Keeping Evans a Must

Lee Evans' contract is up at the end of the upcoming season. It may be time to lock him up now for the long-term.

Amidst all the swirling WR rumors this off-season, there is one notion that all Bills fans share collectively: Lee Evans must be with the Bills long-term. The 2004 first-round draft choice remains one of Buffalo's most essential weapons, and they can't let him get away.

Evans, now entering his fifth year in the NFL, currently has a contract that expires at the conclusion of the season. The Bills have would be wise to begin seriously talking about an extension with the receiver, who has been a cornerstone of their offense for the past four years. He has been the most stable player on offense, despite countless quarterback changes, coaching changes, and the departure of veterans. Now that the Bills appear to finally have stability at quarterback, Evans will have the chance to truly blossom and prove he is one of the league's premier wideouts.

The numbers don't lie.

With only four years under his belt, Evans already owns several team records. His 233 receptions, 3,727 yards, and 29 receiving touchdowns are the most for any receiver in Bills team history in their first four seasons. In 2006, he set a team record for 256 receiving yards in one game, which was also a league-high for that year.

Statistics aside, Evans' speed and route-running abilities speak for themselves, as he is one of the league's most dangerous deep threats. He was the first receiver in NFL history to record two 80-yard touchdowns in one quarter, which came in a 2006 game against Miami. His gift for the deep-ball is what has drawn double-coverage from opposing teams in recent years.

That's a weapon every team craves to possess.

With the departure of Moulds after the 2005 season, Evans saw even more of these double-coverage situations. It didn't put a damper on his 2006 season, as he put up over 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns. However, with very few other receiving threats on the team, his 2007 numbers took a dip. Teams are noticing his ability, and the Bills need to embrace this and use Evans to anchor their receiving corps of the future.

The off-season should bring in a new receiver to hopefully draw attention away from Evans. Landing a new receiver, such as 6-foot-4 Malcolm Kelly from Oklahoma, and signing Evans to an extended contract would only spell success for the Bills and their passing game. Speedy Roscoe Parrish already signed an extension in December and should also start coming into his own as a receiver, despite being undersized. Evans would provide the veteran leadership necessary for crafting this receiving corps into a dominating force in the NFL. Right now it's certainly raw, but Evans to man to help it grow.

Buffalo's offensive picture is becoming clearer, after years of instability and change. They have established their quarterback and running back of the future in Trent Edwards and Marshawn Lynch. The offensive line, featuring Derrick Dockery, Langston Walker, and Pro-Bowler Jason Peters should be able to hold its own against defenses. Add the Evans-anchored receiving corps of the future, and the Bills have one solid offense in the works.

The building blocks are in place for a Bills team that can compete in the future. Evans has more than earned an extension with his already outstanding statistics and reliability as a deep threat receiver. With a contract extension, Evans could become the best receiver in Bills history.

Marc Heintzman is a contributor to the BFR. Contact him at mdheintz@syr.edu


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