Buffalo probably won’t get much for Moulds

By Connor Byrne  |   Tuesday, March 21, 2006  |  Comments( 0 )

Buffalo Bills
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On Monday, the Buffalo Bills granted disgruntled 10-year veteran wide receiver Eric Moulds the right to seek a trade. It's been a long time coming for Moulds, who has voiced a great deal of complaints about the Bills and his contract situation ever since the offseason began in earnest last month. There was never much optimism for the three-time Pro Bowler to return in 2006 to the only franchise that he's ever known.

Moulds is scheduled to count $10.8 million against the Bills' cap next season, but has failed to reach an agreement on a contract restructuring with the organization. Of that $10.8 million hit, Moulds would make $7.1 million next season. Obviously, Bills GM Marv Levy had no choice but to restructure Moulds' deal; however, the veteran never saw eye-to-eye with the Bills as the situation has now turned ugly. Levy would save the Bills $5.5 million in cap space by releasing Moulds, but the cap hit would be $5.3 million, so it's more prudent for the Bills to avoid cap penalties and try to get some value for the veteran.

The fact that Moulds has proven an awful lot over the course of his career should have plenty of teams interested in his services. The 32-year-old Moulds showed last year that he still has plenty left in his tank, as he pulled in 81 receptions in 15 games. Moulds accomplished that in 2005 despite the fact that he had to deal with the Bills' uninspiring quarterback competition, which saw J.P. Losman and Kelly Holcomb battling for the job and playing inconsistently.

Despite Moulds' sudden Terrell Owens-like behavior, there is expected to be a few teams that might be able to strike a deal with the Bills for him. Here are the likeliest contenders to land the former first-round pick from Mississippi State:

--The Philadelphia Eagles. After being forced to end the Owens era, the Eagles are stuck in a terrible position with a less than stellar receiving corps that has Todd Pinkston and Reggie Brown penciled in as the starters. At this point in his career, quarterback Donovan McNabb needs a capable veteran target who can come up with the big catch, while being a somewhat positive locker-room influence; Moulds can more than likely fit both of those profiles. In the event that the Eagles do work out a trade with Buffalo, a late-round pick and DT Hollis Thomas--who wants out of Philly--would probably suffice for the Bills.

--The New England Patriots. The three-time champs are in a state of flux right now as they have lost key veterans like linebacker Willie McGinest and kicker Adam Vinatieri. They also lost their No. 2 receiver, David Givens, to free agency. Current No. 1 Deion Branch is very good, but he can't do everything on his own. The Patriots did sign receiver Reche Caldwell away from the San Diego Chargers, but he's never proven much of anything. Head coach Bill Belichick has had plenty of words of admiration for Moulds in the past, but would the Bills want to trade such a key player within their own division? Truly, that's the biggest question of all. Quarterback Tom Brady certainly hopes so.

--The Denver Broncos. Although the Broncos denied involvement in the Terrell Owens' situation, it's clear that they had some interest; he visited the Broncos' facilities earlier this month. Despite the fact that Denver has a great veteran (Rod Smith) and a solid youngster (Ashley Lelie), they could definitely use another receiver. Head coach/GM Mike Shanahan has always been a guy who is unafraid to deal a pick or picks for a solid veteran player, and may end up doing that here.

--The Carolina Panthers. Besides star receiver Steve Smith, the Panthers don't have a proven receiver. Ricky Proehl and Keary Colbert are nice slot-type guys, but neither is good enough to be a No. 2 at this point. Moulds could come into Carolina and replace their former key veteran, Muhsin Muhammad. Acquiring Moulds would make Jake Delhomme into a better quarterback than he already is, and it just might put the Panthers over the top in the NFC.

Keep in mind that if any of these teams wish to acquire Moulds, they'd have to rework his contract beforehand. They can't take the chance of having Moulds come to their team with his current contract; it would only create friction.

As for the Buffalo Bills, if they can somehow swing a Moulds trade, they likely wouldn't have the leverage to get much for him. He's aging, has a huge contract that will need reworking as I just stated, and he has been known to complain sometimes when things aren't going well. Expect anywhere from a third to sixth-round pick to be exchanged in a trade.

All four of these teams mentioned are possibilities for Moulds because of their holes at the receiver position, and the fact that a player of his caliber could propel them into the NFL's elite. Outside of the Eagles, all three of these franchises won at least one playoff game last season. Moulds could go a long way in bringing any one of them closer to a Super Bowl title.

All that's left to do now is sit back and watch the NFL's newest receiver soap opera unfold. I've got my popcorn ready. Do you?

--Connor Byrne can be reached at cbyrne@realfootball365.com
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