Thursday, August 11, 2011
Source: Bills open to Lee Evans trade
ESPN.com news services
The Buffalo Bills are now open to trading wide receiver Lee Evans, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Evans still is considered a vertical threat that will be an asset for the team that lands him. Trade rumors involving Evans have swirled during the offseason.
"The trade talks, that's just part of the game. It's not a whole lot I can focus on because I have no control," Evans said, Thursday. "My main goal is to do everything in my power to help this team win. That's what my focus is more so than anything."
Coach Chan Gailey dismissed the reports as being rumors. General manager Buddy Nix said "there's nothing to talk about" regarding the reports.
A person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press that teams have approached the Bills about Evans. However, the person said Buffalo would only trade the receiver if it was able to get "something substantial" in return. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills have not stated whether they've had talks to trade Evans.
Citing an unnamed person, XTRA-Radio in Phoenix reported this week that the Arizona Cardinals showed interest in acquiring Evans. Other reports have cited the Baltimore Ravens as being interested.
With two years left on his contract, Evans said he's not asked for a trade, and added he's not approached either Gailey or Nix to clarify his status.
This isn't new to Evans. He recalled being the subject of trade talks last season.
"We'll find out in the coming days if there's anything to it," he said. "We'll see. You never know."
Selected in the first round of the 2004 draft out of Wisconsin, Evans is the longest active-serving member of the Bills offense (not including kicker Rian Lindell), and the unquestioned leader of the team's young group of receivers.
Evans has surpassed 1,000 yards receiving twice, with his best season coming in 2006, when he had 82 catches for 1,292 yards and eight touchdowns.
Since registering 1,017 yards in 2008, his numbers have tailed off. Evans had 612 yards and seven scores in 2009 while paired alongside Terrell Owens. And he had a career-low 578 yards and four touchdowns last year, and missed the final three games with an ankle injury. Evans finished a distant second behind Stevie Johnson, who had a breakout season with 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns.
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"This is a statistical league, right? So statistically, I didn't have the numbers I thought I would have or know that I can have," Evans said. "I know it's in me. I know it's there. Given the opportunity, I'm going to do everything I can because that's the only way I know how to go about things."
Despite his sagging numbers, he still plays a significant role in the Bills' passing attack by attracting coverage his way and opening room for other receivers. Johnson certainly benefited from Evans' presence last year in facing mostly single coverage. Buffalo scored only two of its 24 touchdowns receiving last season after Evans was sidelined.
"He's a leader, and if you lose him, where do we go from there?" Johnson said, in response to the prospect of Evans being traded.
Safety George Wilson said Evans hasn't missed a step or two.
"Even though they all can get deep here and there, nobody else in the receiver corps has the speed that Lee has," Wilson said. "That's what makes him such an asset. He helps to give us that home-run threat on any given play, and he creates opportunities for other guys."
Whatever his future holds, Evans knows he has the respect of his teammates, having been voted a captain for five straight years.
"At the end of the day, all my teammates know what I can do, who I am and they respect me for that," Evans said. "They know they can trust me, they know they can believe in me, so that goes a long way."
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.