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Bills face tough call on Manningham

The Buffalo Bills will have a tough decision on how hard to push for free-agent wide receiver Mario Manningham of the New York Giants. Buffalo, Miami and San Francisco are the teams reported to be interested in him, according to ESPN. Miami is very eager to get a wideout after trading big Brandon Marshall on Tuesday. (UPDATE: Manningham will visit San Francisco on Thursday, according to

Manningham is a quality receiver. His career yards-per-catch average of 14.5 is excellent. He had 57 catches for 822 yards in 2009 and 60 for 944 with nine touchdowns in 2010. He had some nagging injuries last season and finished with 39 catches for 523 yards in 12 games. He's not a burner, but he runs well. He ran a slow time (4.59) at the combine coming out of Michigan because he wasn't in top shape but came back to run 4.49 before the 2008 draft. Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride runs a complex offense with a lot of option routes, so Manningham presumably would be able to adjust to Chan Gailey's offense.

But do the Bills really want to pay him as much as they're paying Stevie Johnson ($7.25 million)? It doesn't seem he's worth that much, but who knows how high the bidding could get if Miami is determined to fill the Marshall hole.

The Bills thought they had a deal for Robert Meachem late Tuesday. It was close. But San Diego swooped in and offered Meachem a per-year average equal to that of Johnson (without as much up-front money). That was an offer Meachem decided he had to take on the spot. Another factor to consider is the draft is deep - very deep - in receivers this year.

Nevertheless, to win a Super Bowl, a team needs an array of weapons. Manningham was the No. 3 wideout for the Giants behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. If the Bills don't seal the deal with Mario Williams, that may prompt them to bid higher on Manningham.

---Mark Gaughan


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