NFL Nation: The Big Question AFC 30910

The Big Question: What to do with Lynch?

March, 9, 2010
3/09/10
4:00
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NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

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 put up 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.
NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A new Tuesday feature on the ESPN.com NFL blog network.

Presuming Anthony Gonzalez is healthy and ready to go, how do the Colts sort out things at wide receiver with him, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie?

Anthony Gonzalez
David Stluka/Getty ImagesHaving missed almost all of the 2009 season, Anthony Gonzalez has a lot to prove going forward.
This isn’t a question that needs to be answered now. Still, I understand how fans look at the Colts' wealth of weapons and can’t help but want to know how the team will sort it out.

I think the Colts simply let these guys fight it out in training camp in the preseason,but ultimately use all three in some capacity and benefit from fantastic depth for Peyton Manning. Gonzalez was the odd-man out last season because of his knee injury. With Garcon and Collie starring without him, Gonzalez might have the most to prove.

I went ahead and got you a second answer as well, from Matt Williamson of Scouts. Inc.:
"To me, Garcon is the most valuable and is the outside threat. A true starter. Big strong body that Indy never has really had at that position with Manning. Tons of upside. The other two should battle it out for No. 3/slot duties and I am quite high on both. Not sure how to handicap that race, but obviously it is a tremendous problem to have if you are Indy. And maybe -- if you get into training camp, you entertain offers for one if someone really makes it worth your time. No reason to get hasty with anything on this front right now."
NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A new Tuesday feature on the ESPN.com NFL blog network.

Will Denver receiver Brandon Marshall be in a different uniform in 2010?

This is the burning question in the AFC West.

And I believe the answer is yes. I just don’t see any way Marshall will return to Denver.

[+] EnlargeMarshall
Eric Hartline/US PresswireBrandon Marshall has recorded at least 101 receptions in each of the past three seasons.
I know all parties have said a Marshall return to Denver is possible. I know there have been reports that the Broncos want a first-round pick for Marshall or they won’t let him go. Remember, Jay Cutler wasn’t going to be traded, either.

I think, ultimately, Denver would change its stance if an attractive offer is made. For example, if Denver is offered a second-round pick and a player for Marshall, the Broncos may think that is worth it. In the end, Denver will want value for Marshall.

If he were to stay in Denver in 2010, Marshall would be set to become a free agent in 2011, assuming there will be football played that season. Marshall would surely leave Denver next year unless he got a new, huge contract.

I know the Broncos are reluctant to commit to Marshall long-term because of his off-field problems. Also, Denver was fed up with Marshall after a turbulent 2009 season that featured a trade demand, a summer suspension and a benching in the final game of the season.

Denver has to be ready to move on. So I don’t expect this first-round demand to be a deal-breaker.

Seattle is the only team to show interest in Marshall so far. It has visited with Marshall, but the Seahawks aren’t expected to offer one of their two first-round picks for the receiver. Still, expect Seattle to get creative with its offer if it decides to make a pitch for Marshall. Denver’s best hope for a first-round pick is if there is a bidding war for Marshall.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Cincinnati could make a play for Marshall. Other teams such as Miami, New England and the Jets could potentially get involved. More interest could mean higher compensation.

If that’s the case, perhaps the Broncos will get that first-round pick. But in the end, expect Marshall to leave Denver, first-round pick or not.

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