John McCargo's underachieving days in Buffalo are over.
The Bills dealt the third-year defensive tackle to the Indianapolis Colts just before Tuesday's NFL trade deadline. The terms of the trade were not disclosed, but it is believed to be a conditional draft choice based on performance.
The move was a bit unexpected because of McCargo's youth and potential. But the Bills never warmed up to McCargo, who failed to live up to their lofty expectations. Defensive line coach Bill Kollar even questioned McCargo's desire earlier this season.
"It's like we've said from Day One, you've got to really want to play," Kollar told The Buffalo News. "It's real easy to go and talk about it. But what you have to do is work and get better on the practice field and take it into the game.
"He's got the ability. But deep inside yourself you've got to want to end up getting it done. You've got to end up doing it on the field."
Trading McCargo after less than three seasons can only be interpreted as an admission by the Bills that they made a mistake in swinging a draft-day trade with Chicago in 2006 to move back into the first round to get McCargo with the 26th overall selection.
He appeared in 25 games, but never could unseat Kyle Williams, a fifth-round pick in the 2006 draft. After a broken foot ended his rookie year five games into the season, McCargo showed flashes of brilliance in 2007. However, the Bills never got a consistent level of performance from him.
A number of team insiders thought McCargo was ready to challenge Williams as starter next to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud in training camp. But the competition never materialized as Williams easily retained the job. The play of free agent addition Spencer Johnson dropped McCargo further down the depth chart.
McCargo was inactive for the season opener against Seattle. He has appeared in the last four games but his playing time was minimal. He got 13 defensive snaps against Jacksonville, eight against Oakland, 10 against St. Louis and 20 against Arizona. He was credited with just two tackles.
The Colts are hoping the 6-foot-2, 307-pound McCargo will bring more size and athleticism to a small defensive line that has struggled to stop the run this season.
The Colts have been desperate for defensive tackle help since the season began. Quinn Pitcock, who was counted on to be a key contributor, retired unexpectedly before the start of training camp. The Colts also released second-year starter Ed Johnson, their best run stuffer, following his arrest after the opener for speeding and possession of marijuana.
Meanwhile, the trade the Bills didn't make was getting Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez.
The Bills were among several teams that inquired about the possibility of acquiring Gonzalez, but the Chiefs decided to keep the perennial Pro Bowler after they didn't get what they deemed an acceptable offer. Sources believe the Bills were willing to part with a third-round draft pick.
The Chiefs are in the midst of a youth movement. The 32-year-old Gonzalez, the most productive receiving tight end in NFL history, had approached the team about trading him to a Super Bowl contender while he has a few years left.