The trade of Peerless Price to Atlanta left Josh Reed feeling melancholy.
Price was a willing teacher during the 2002 season when Reed was a rookie and learning the NFL ropes. Still, Reed would be lying if he said Price's departure wasn't a colossal career break for himself.
Instead of being satisfied playing third fiddle again behind Pro Bowler Eric Moulds and Price, which last season formed the league's most potent wide receiver tandem with 194 catches for 2,539 yards and 19 touchdowns, Reed has been promoted to a starting job.
At the ripe age of 23, opportunity has definitely knocked.
"I'm glad he got what he wanted, and he deserved it. I hated to see him leave," Reed said of Price, who got a $10 million signing bonus from the Falcons.
"On the other hand, an opportunity has opened up and it's a matter of who can make the most of it. I talked to coach (Gregg Williams) and he said, 'Don't try to replace somebody, the position is open and just do what you've been doing.' "
While it's politically correct to say the second receiver job alongside Moulds is open for competition, and there are other candidates on the roster like veterans Bobby Shaw, James Jett and Charles Johnson, it isn't.
It's Reed's to lose.
Last season, he caught 37 passes for 514 yards and two scores, becoming just the seventh Bills rookie with 500-plus yards and the first since Andre Reed (no relation) had 637 in 1985.
In just his second pro game, Josh Reed caught eight passes for 110 yards and one TD in a shootout victory at Minnesota.
Reed's steady play all season when called upon gave Buffalo confidence that it could deal Price.
"That's why they brought me in, they felt I could step in and play that role," said Reed, who was taken in the second-round of the 2002 draft after a short but brilliant career at LSU. "I didn't know it was going to happen, but it did. I just have to be ready."
At LSU, Reed re-wrote the school's record book, including a junior season in which he caught 94 passes for an SEC-record 1,740 yards.
At 5-feet-10, 203 pounds, Reed - a former star high school running back in Louisiana - has great run-after-the-catch skills. Buffalo plans to work him over the middle whenever possible.
Williams and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride keep emphasizing that it would be unfair for the team and outsiders to expect Reed to replace Price's 94 catches for 1,252 yards and 9 TDs.
It may take a combination of Reed and Shaw and others.
It may be, too, that it won't matter. The Bills plan to pound their running game more often, and signed veteran FB Sam Gash to block for Travis Henry.
"We play packages where there's only one wide receiver on the field, with two tight ends and two backs," Williams said. "We play four wides, we play three. We need as many healthy wide receivers as we can find."