The Big Question: What to do with Lynch?

March, 9, 2010
3/09/10
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A new Tuesday feature on the ESPN.com NFL blog network.

Should the Buffalo Bills dump Marshawn Lynch?

Marshawn Lynch can be an elite NFL running back. He's a sledgehammer with the ball in his hands, a fearsome runner who's tough to tackle. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two pro seasons and went to the Pro Bowl after his second season.

[+] EnlargeMarshawn Lynch
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireMarshawn Lynch rushed for only 450 yards and two touchdowns last season.
Unfortunately for Buffalo, he has been as much of a headache to his own team as he has been for opponents, and new head coach Chan Gailey must change the culture.

There has been considerable speculation about a Lynch trade, but what could the Bills get for a player who continues to demonstrate he's unreliable? What team would take on a disruptive personality who's also coming off a disappointing season?

The Bills used the 12th overall pick on Lynch in 2007. But as the New York Jets showed with Shonn Greene last year, talented running backs can be found in the third round. Frank Gore, Steve Slaton and Jamaal Charles were third-round picks. Marion Barber, Brandon Jacobs and Darren Sproles were fourth-rounders.

It's hard to imagine a team giving up anything better than a fourth-round pick for a player with so many issues.

Lynch hasn't even turned 24 years old, but a series of off-field problems has provoked multiple meetings with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Lynch, suspended three games last year for repeated misbehavior, is one misstep away from a lengthy unpaid furlough, maybe for a full season, depending on Goodell's mood.

Teams sometimes will tolerate a player who casts a dark cloud. But he must perform on the field. Lynch did not in 2009. He lost his job as the featured back to Fred Jackson, an undrafted Division III alum who clawed his way into the NFL through a second-tier arena bush league and NFL Europa.

The Bills were desperate for victories last year. Yet after Week 7, Lynch had double-digit carries only once, maxing out at a dozen against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14.

Head coach Dick Jauron, on the verge of getting fired for weeks, stopped giving the ball to Lynch. Interim head coach Perry Fewell, essentially with a seven-game tryout to attain his dream of being an NFL head coach in 2010, was the one who demoted Lynch for Jackson.

In other words, two coaches starving for players to count on decided not to rely on Lynch.

He's a player the Bills can do without.

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