In a move that has been expected for some time now, and even I suggested at one time, the Bills have gone ahead and traded longtime receiver Lee Evans for a fourth-round pick. This is great news if you wanted to see Lee Evans get traded, OK news if you expected something in return and horrible news if you wanted to see the offense at full strength for the entire season.
While Evans has left many things to be desired statistically speaking, he was one of the Bills' best players and a matchup that defensive coordinators had to prepare for. Stevie Johnson also looked to him for leadership, and has given him credit for his breakout season on numerous occasions.
Some Bills fans wanted to see Evans go for a variety of reasons (declining stats, the chance to play for a contender, his high contract, etc). So now that he is gone, let's look at the aftermath of this decision.
What This Means for Buffalo
This move is a clear sign that Buffalo is committed to positioning this team for growth moving forward, and young growth at that. They are slowly but surely dispatching all remnants of the team Buddy Nix inherited. Doing this might be a positive, but it is angering veteran players who came to Buffalo to win. Meanwhile, the city of Buffalo is anxiously awaiting the final results of this diaspora.
Trading Evans will surely put more pressure on Stevie Johnson, Marcus Easley and Brad Smith to produce in their now-increased roles. It also means that Buffalo will be even farther under the salary cap floor and if they must reach it, they will have to make further moves or sign people to extensions (Fitzpatrick?).
However, one major thing that trading Evans does to this team is take away an icon for a team that is grasping for a player to identify with; perhaps Johnson's popularity can make up for this loss, but that only adds to his responsibilities for the season.
So the last thing to look at is the measly fourth-rounder that Buffalo was lucky to be able to pry away from the Ravens. This is the same type of pick the Patriots pawned off to the Raiders for Randy Moss. Based on the consistent success of the Ravens, this pick is likely to be the 126th overall pick (average of their last five years). So this pick will hopefully yield more than the Raiders got for their Moss trade (CB John Bowie, two career tackles).
What This Means for the Ravens
This is a clear sign that the Ravens are building for a championship. They have slowly been gathering the pieces needed to support Joe Flacco, who they will finally give the keys to this year. It is a move that really balances out their offense that always seemed to have question marks in the receiving slots.
Now they will have two quality, veteran pass-catchers who will play off each other well.