Coming out of California as a first-round pick in 2007, RB Marshawn Lynch looked like he'd be the Bills' featured back of the future after things did not work out with Willis McGahee. Lynch did nothing to dispel that theory during his rookie campaign, rushing for 1,115 yards and seven touchdowns in just 13 games. He then followed it up with a stellar sophomore season that landed him a Pro Bowl berth.
But something happened before that '08 season that began Lynch's downfall in Buffalo. The back was involved in a hit-and-run accident that summer that left a pedestrian injured, and while Lynch was not leveled with any criminal charges for the incident, it was a precursor for further run-ins with the law. Days after his Pro Bowl appearance, he was pulled over in his home state and was discovered to have a loaded gun in his car. He was arrested and pled guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge, which resulted in the league suspending him for the first three games of the '09 season.
Not looking ready for football upon his return from suspension, Lynch struggled throughout this past season, running for only 450 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, RB Fred Jackson emerged as a dependable dual-threat back, piling up 1,433 yards from scrimmage while splitting time for much of the season. Combine all these factors, and there's a very good chance that Lynch will not be in Buffalo next season.
From what we hear, it would be surprising if the Bills did not find a way to get rid of the 23-year-old this offseason, especially after new head coach Chan Gailey emphasized the importance of character during his initial press conference. Team insiders tell us that Lynch is not a very likable individual, often coming off as a "punk." His behavior also has rubbed many of his teammates the wrong way, in stark contrast to the mild-mannered, humble Jackson.
With tolerance for him waning in the locker room and the new regime wanting to start fresh, a move for Lynch is likely to be coming in the months ahead. It's a long way from where he stood in the eyes of the organization just a couple years ago, but his constant legal issues and off-putting personality may leave the club with little choice.
PFW has launched its brand-new NFL Draft Newsletter series, with the second issue now ready for mailing and a third issue focusing on underclassmen to be published in the next few weeks. Produced by PFW's player personnel department under the direction of Nolan Nawrocki, the series consists of four information-packed issues. For more info or to subscribe — click here for PDF e-pub or here for print format. You can also find details about other draft-related publications in the PFW store.