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HENRY TRADE BECOMES TOUGHER

The NFL draft ended Sunday with Travis Henry still a member of the Buffalo Bills, who are struggling to find someone willing to trade for the disgruntled running back.

Unhappy that his starting job was given to Willis McGahee, Henry expressed a desire to play elsewhere after last season. The Bills gave his agent, Hadley Engelhard, permission to seek a trade. But months later, Henry is no closer to finding a new home than when the process started.

Henry and Engelhard did not return repeated calls by The News for comment Sunday.

Bills President and General Manager Tom Donahoe fielded several calls during the draft, but no one offered what he thought was a fair deal.

"We tried hard and it didn't work, but that doesn't mean it won't," he said. "We were very aggressive. (Pro personnel director) John Guy has been on the phone for two days trying to make it happen, but it hasn't. We'll see what takes place as we go forward."

It was believed the Bills were initially seeking a second-round pick for Henry. It's possible the team would have considered a third- or possibly a fourth-rounder if it was presented during the draft.

"We were willing to discuss anything," Donahoe said, "but somebody has to offer you something so that you could have a conversation."

Donahoe is still optimistic that a trade can happen, and he might have a willing partner in the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles were thought to be out of the running after drafting Louisiana Tech's Ryan Moats. But Eagles coach Andy Reid said Sunday that Henry remains a possibility.

"We're probably OK right now," Reid told the Philadelphia media. "We'll see. We haven't completely pulled out of the other deal. We'll see how that goes here."

If the Eagles don't pursue Henry, the Bills will find it difficult to trade him. A whopping 26 running backs (including three fullbacks) were drafted over the weekend, including eight in the first three rounds. There were six taken in the fourth round alone.

Arizona, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia -- the three teams that reportedly showed the most interest in Henry -- took running backs in either the first or second round. Even the Bills took one, Louisville's Lionel Gates, in Round Seven.

"I don't know," Bills coach Mike Mularkey said when asked if the market for Henry has dried up. "But it's slimmer."

Arizona was one of the first teams to inquire about Henry. The Cardinals offered offensive tackle L.J. Shelton, but the Bills weren't interested. The teams also couldn't agree on a swap of second-round draft picks. The Cardinals ultimately took California running back J.J. Arrington in Round Two.

"We kept our communication open with Buffalo right up to the time of the pick," Rod Graves, the Cardinals' vice president of football operations, told the Arizona media. "We also felt it wasn't going to work. And we had an opportunity at a player like (second-round pick) J.J. Arrington, and to be honest with you, we feel very, very good about that selection."

The fact the Bills have been unable to trade Henry raises a strong possibility that he will not attend any of the scheduled spring minicamps. He also would likely not attend training camp if he's still on the team.

There is the matter of the one year Henry has left on his contract, which the Bills expect him to honor.

But Henry doesn't want to be a backup to McGahee and has said publicly that he has played his last game for the Bills.

Mularkey believes those comments were born out of frustration, but he is well aware Henry is serious about leaving.

"We're still trying to do the trade," Mularkey said. "We know that's the best of all worlds for him. That's what he would like to do."
e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com