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No End to Comparisons

Comparing the Bills with the Patriots has been a favorite pastime of mine ever since Bill Belichick began taking New England to Super Bowls. The Pats have been the standard in the division, and the NFL, for nearly a decade. The Bills generally suffer by comparison. The Pats make bold moves on players and stockpile draft picks. They nail their draft picks. The Bills always seem a step behind.

So how about this one: The Patriots had a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end, Richard Seymour, who was one month from his 30th birthday and heading into decline. They traded Seymour to the Raiders for a first-round pick in 2011. Perhaps this makes the Pats a little weaker in the short term, but it was a classic Belichick move, a great franchise making the pro-active decision on a star player whose contract will be up after this season.

Two years ago, the Bills were in a similar situation. Aaron Schobel was coming off a Pro Bowl season. He had two years left on his contract, but wanted a new deal. The Bills had just extended Chris Kelsay's contract, making Schobel the second-highest paid end on his own team. So the Bills gave Schobel a seven-year, $50 million contract extension.

One week after the deal was announced in the summer of 2007, Schobel turned 30. He hasn't been the same player since. He missed most of last year with an injury. He's healthy again, but at 32 it's hard to imagine him being anymore more than an average player.

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