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American Football: Henry on the way out

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posted on Jan, 14 2005 @ 05:54 PM
The agent for unhappy Buffalo Bills tailback Travis Henry, who lost his starting job to Willis McGahee during the 2004 season, has received permission from team officials to discuss a possible trade with other franchises.

The permission, requested by Henry through agent Hadley Engelhard, was granted during a meeting with Bills president/general manager Tom Donahoe at this week's practices for the East-West Shrine all-star game. While significant, such a move rarely precipitates a trade, but Engelhard said he has received positive feedback from the several clubs with whom he has already spoken.

"I think there's definitely interest from several teams," Engelhard said. "Here's a guy who has twice rushed for 1,000 yards, is only 26 years old and is a proven commodity. We intend to have further dialogue with some teams over the next few weeks."

Essentially, the move allows Engelhard to shop his client, gauge interest and define a market. He would then report to Donahoe on the franchises with interest in Henry, and the Bills could follow up to see whether a deal could be struck.

With the rapid development of McGahee, the team's first-round choice in the '03 draft, Henry might be deemed superfluous. But in his season-ending press session, Donahoe said that the Bills want to maintain depth at the tailback spot and that Henry could return for the 2005 season.

"We'll see how it develops," Donahoe said. "I do know this: Travis Henry is a good football player, a good back, and we're not going to give him away."

Engelhard said he does not know what it would take, in terms of compensation, for a team to acquire his client. But he reiterated that Henry is "very adamant" about leaving the Bills and finding a team where he could start. His comments echoed those of Henry, who acknowledged a day after the regular season ended that it is time for him to move on, and that he would not accept a backup role.

A four-year veteran and former second-round draft choice, Henry started the first four games of the season, and five of the first six, before suffering a series of injuries. He was replaced in the lineup by McGahee, who rushed for 1,128 yards despite starting just 11 games. A leg injury sidelined Henry for the final five games of the season.

Henry finished with 94 carries for 326 yards and no touchdowns. In the two previous seasons, the former University of Tennessee star averaged 328 rushes for 1,397 yards and 11.5 touchdowns. A compactly built tailback, at 5 feet 9 and 215 pounds, Henry is a tough inside runner with quickness to the hole.

At the end of the season, Henry contended that he didn't lose his starting job but that it was taken from him.

"It was given away, let's get that straight," Henry said. "It was a difficult year, but things can only go up. I'm just looking forward to getting healthy and doing the things I know I can still do on the football field."

Engelhard declined comment on whether Henry would participate in the Bills' offseason program if he is not traded, but said his client's priority is to play elsewhere in 2005. Henry has one season remaining on his current contract, with a scheduled base salary of $1.25 million for 2005, and Engelhard said the tailback is prepared to sign a long-term extension with any team that acquires him in a trade.

"We appreciate the Bills allowing us to initiate dialogue with other teams, and it could be a situation that benefits both sides," Engelhard said. "As [Donahoe] noted, they aren't just going to give Travis away, and we wouldn't expect that. At this point, very early in the offseason, he is just about 100 percent recovered from the leg injury. And I don't think there's any debate about the fact he is a quality running back."


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