The Ravens and Bills agreed to a trade Thursday that will send running back Willis McGahee to Baltimore in exchange for the team's third and seventh-round picks in this year's draft, along with the Ravens' third-round pick in 2008, league sources said.
Jeremy Green's take
The Ravens reacted quickly to the loss of Jamal Lewis to Cleveland by trading for Buffalo's Willis McGahee, a running back with a lot more versatility than Lewis. McGahee can run inside and outside, is a lot quicker to the hole and can make people miss. It's a huge upgrade for the Ravens, because Lewis was basically a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust runner at this point. He was a sitting duck for tacklers, while McGahee is much more of a moving target.
Buffalo dealt McGahee in anticipation of difficulty with his contract, which has one season remaining at $2.155 million. The Ravens and McGahee have already begun negotiations on a contract extension, McGahee's agent Drew Rosenhaus said.
It's the second year in a row the Ravens pulled off a trade for a marquee veteran. Last year they dealt for Tennessee Titans quarteback Steve McNair, who led the Ravens to the AFC North title.
The Titans were also reportedly interested in dealing for McGahee.
The Bills, whose remaining running backs are Daimon Shelton and Shaud Williams, are now in the market for multiple backs. They have shown interest in the Colts' Dominic Rhodes and the Titans' Chris Brown, and both have visited the team. Former Patriots running back Corey Dillon has not visited Orchard Park, but the Bills are said to be interested.
Buffalo's first-round pick out of Miami in 2003, McGahee is coming off a down season in which he finished with a career-low 990 yards rushing, but led the team with six rushing touchdowns in 14 starts.
In 2005, he had 1,247 yards rushing and five touchdowns in 15 starts. He established himself as the Bills starter in 2004 with 1,128 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in 11 starts. That performance led the team to trade former starter Travis Henry to Tennessee the following summer.
McGahee sat out his rookie season recovering from major knee surgery.
The Bills have been disappointed in McGahee for conducting most of his offseason workouts in his native Miami, rather than traveling to the team's Orchard Park headquarters. McGahee also created a stir when he was quoted in a magazine article suggesting the NFL consider moving the Bills to Toronto, a comment he later said was taken out of context.