RB won't accept backup role, willing to sit

Updated: March 21, 2005, 7:02 PM ET
Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Travis Henry is through playing for the Buffalo Bills, intent to sit out as long as it takes the team to trade him.

"I'm definitely not going back to Buffalo if that's what you want to hear," the running back told The Associated Press on Monday from his home in Orlando, Fla. "No minicamps. No training camp. No nothing. ... I packed my stuff and left. As soon as the season was over, I was out of there and I didn't have any plans of coming back."

Henry, who started during his first three seasons in Buffalo, has one year left on his contract and is unwilling to spend another year as Willis McGahee's backup.

Travis Henry
Running Back
Buffalo Bills
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
94 326 0 10 45 0

The Bills granted Henry permission in January to speak to other teams about a potential trade. Of the teams that expressed interest, Henry said the Arizona Cardinals have offered to trade starting left tackle L.J. Shelton in a player-for-player deal.

Henry doesn't understand why the Bills -- in need of offensive line help -- haven't accepted the offer. Henry added he's willing to play for Arizona, a team in need of a starting running back since Emmitt Smith's retirement last month.

"The whole situation, it's really frustrating," Henry said. "I just want to move on with my life and my career."

Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold declined comment.

Cardinals officials were at the NFL owners meetings in Hawaii, and unavailable for comment.

Bills president Tom Donahoe addressed the Henry trade issue in a question and answer session on the team's Web site last week, writing that he's seeking fair value in return for Henry.

"At the present time, there is not enough interest to make a trade," Donahoe wrote. "And if things continue in that vein, we would expect to have Travis back again next year."

Henry believes the Shelton trade would help both teams, considering the Bills lost three offensive linemen to free agency earlier this month, including starting left tackle Jonas Jennings, who has since signed with San Francisco.

"They said they weren't just going to let me go. I understand that," Henry said. "But here's a win-win situation. ... Arizona has shown interest. They've shown they're ready to pull the trigger. And Donahoe is taking his poor little precious time for some reason."

Henry had been the Bills starter since the team selected him in the second round of the 2001 draft out of Tennessee. He put together consecutive 1,300-yard seasons before losing the job to McGahee last October.

Henry finished with 326 yards rushing last year and missed the final five games with torn ligaments in his right ankle.

Shelton, a first-round pick in 1999, has started 77 games. Falling out of favor with Cardinals' first-year coach Dennis Green last season, Shelton had only nine starts and missed the final three games with a left knee injury.

Shelton, who has the Cardinals permission to seek a trade, visited the Bills last month.

He has four more years left on his contract that will pay him $3 million a season -- very affordable for a Bills team that has little room left under the salary cap.

What frustrates Henry is that the Bills knew this running back dispute could arise when they drafted McGahee. And Henry thought he was being a team player when he didn't reveal his frustrations after he was demoted last season.

"It was tough for me being in the locker room last year," Henry said. "I didn't make a big deal out of everything that was happening. I didn't understand it, but I dealt with it."

What bothers Henry even more is how the Bills granted Drew Bledsoe's request to be released last month after the starting quarterback was unwilling to accept a secondary role behind J.P. Losman. Bledsoe has since signed with Dallas.

"He wasn't going to be a backup and I ain't going to be no backup," Henry said. "They shipped Drew out of there. I want to be shipped out of there, point blank."

Also on Monday, the Bills re-signed backup running back Joe Burns. Mostly used on special teams, Burns had 20 carries for 73 yards last season.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press