The rumors persisted for the better part of four days, and now it has become official. Lee Evans has been traded by the Bills to the Baltimore Ravens for an undisclosed 2012 draft pick. Bills GM Buddy Nix explained why the move was made.
"We've got six or seven really promising young receivers," said Bills GM Buddy Nix. "We'd like to see those guys develop and we want to give them that opportunity."
It was clear going into training camp that the Bills were going to have a numbers crunch at wideout with the emergence of David Nelson, Donald Jones and Naaman Roosevelt as undrafted rookies last season. Add in 2010 fourth-round pick Marcus Easley with Stevie Johnson and Roscoe Parrish and one could see that Buffalo could be forced into a situation where they let a player go without getting anything in return.
"Unless somebody got hurt we were going to have a good player that we were going to have to let go," said Nix.
Evans issued a statement on his personal website reflecting on his time in Buffalo.
"I want to say thank you to Mr. Wilson and the Bills organization for everything over the last seven years. To the great fans who make Buffalo special, thanks for always supporting me and my family. I'll always have ties to the Buffalo community as I've met a lot of great people who will remain friends."
Nix realizes he's relying on the youth in the club's receiving corps a whole lot more, but he has faith the group will come through.
"We'll see," he said. "You don't know that and neither do I. We think they've got the potential to do it and some of them have already started doing it so we'll see how it goes."
The Bills GM never denied the trade rumors. He simply chose not to address Lee Evans' specifically concerning trade talk. He also said that no one is untouchable.
"We're always looking to improve and upgrade our team, whatever it takes," said Nix. "Competition is what this is all about and I don't think anybody is immune to discussions and certainly nobody is immune to being replaced, including me. We'll do the best we can to make our team better."
Baltimore was in need of an experienced receiver having lost Derrick Mason in free agency. The Ravens top four wideouts prior to the Evans' acquisition were Anquan Boldin, rookie Torrey Smith, David Reed and rookie Tandon Doss.
Coming off of back-to-back career low seasons, Buffalo's front office likely also felt that more playing time was deserving of members of their young receiving corps. Jones, Nelson and the recently signed Craig Davis look to be the most viable candidates right now to replace Evans opposite Stevie Johnson, but the unproven talent on the roster, Marcus Easley, makes the most sense for the 'X' receiver role.
Standing 6'3" and 220 pounds and blessed with 4.39 speed the former fourth-round pick is the receiver whose skill set fits that position's role.
Evans' seven-year career with the Bills ends with the receiver ranking fourth in Bills annals in receptions (377), third in all-time receiving yards (5,934) and third in touchdown catches (43).
He hauled in 37 catches for 578 yards and four touchdowns in 2010, before being placed on Injured Reserve on Dec. 14th with an ankle injury. He led all Bills receivers in yards per catch (15.6), which ranked eighth in AFC. Ironically, his best game last season came against the Ravens when he had six catches for 105 yards and three touchdowns.
Evans unfortunately endured one of the most trying eras of Bills football as he has been part of only one Bills team that had a winning record during his rookie season (2004). Through it all Evans was a true professional.
"I think if you combine player and person you'd probably be hard pressed to find a guy that represented the Bills better than he did," said Nix. "He did a lot for us on and off the field."