The Buffalo Bills know they're not going to be able to compete this year and have traded one of their most talented players for middling draft considerations.
The Bills on Tuesday traded running back Marshawn Lynch to the Seattle Seahawks. For a Pro Bowler two seasons ago and a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, the Bills received a fourth-round draft choice next year and a conditional pick for 2012.
It's hard to imagine the Bills being unable to get at least that much for Lynch before this year's draft.
And based on Buffalo's track record at the draft, over the past decade, you can safely assume that fourth-round pick won't turn out to be a steal.
Buffalo's front office made the move eight days after releasing Trent Edwards, the quarterback who won the starting job after six months of evaluation by head coach and play-caller Chan Gailey. A couple of days later, linebacker Kawika Mitchell asked to be released from the team and accepted an injury settlement.
The Lynch trade could be a harbinger of more moves to come. The Bills are 0-4 and considered among the worst few teams in the NFL. They ranked at the bottom of ESPN.com's latest Power Rankings.
The trade deadline is Oct. 19.
Other veterans who might be able to help the Bills accumulate some draft picks for their rebuilding phase include receiver Lee Evans, defensive lineman Marcus Stroud, safety Donte Whitner and cornerbacks Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence.
From an on-field standpoint, the Lynch trade provides some clarity in the backfield. Gailey hasn't been able to get all of his running backs involved on a consistent basis.
Fred Jackson finished last year as Buffalo's feature back, but he has just 20 rushing attempts for 87 yards and the team's only ground touchdown through four games. The Bills drafted C.J. Spiller ninth overall, but he has 14 carries for 49 yards and no touchdowns.
Lynch was Buffalo's leading rusher with 167 yards. He had been getting a bulk of the carries, but that apparently was to showcase him for a possible trade.
Lynch's stay in Buffalo was checkered.
He sparked a civic controversy for his involvement in a hit-and-run incident in Buffalo's nightclub district two years ago. Last offseason he was cited for multiple gun charges and was accused of being in possession of marijuana in California. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Lynch for the first three games of 2009.
But the new Bills' front office chose to stick with him -- as they did with Edwards -- before figuring out weeks into the regular season they'd rather not have him on the roster anymore.