Bills with a summer shocker

The moves pave way for an exciting 2018 draft

Howard Simon
August 12, 2017 - 6:59 am

WOW!!! I’m going to guess you and I had the same reaction to the two trades announced by the Buffalo Bills on Friday.

The shock was two-fold. The Bills had traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a player for whom the previous general manager (Doug Whaley) gave up a fortune to draft, and they dealt away Ronald Darby meaning both starting cornerbacks from last season are now gone. The other part of the stun factor is that we just don’t see football trades of this magnitude very often. Teams don’t typically trade away young starters.

If I were the GM of the Bills, I would not have traded away Watkins. I thought the Bills made the right decision in deciding not to pick up the 2018 option-year on his contract. The best course of action was to see if Watkins could stay healthy this season and then decide on his future. I think Sammy is an extremely talented receiver who can bring explosive plays to the field. If he stayed healthy and was productive, the Bills could have then pursued a multi-year contract or at the very least used the franchise tag.

Having said that, I’m going to guess the new brain trust didn’t like either of those scenarios, and did what many teams in other leagues do: trade a player for some value before losing him for nothing in free agency. The Bills get a starting receiver back in the trade, but Jordan Matthews is not as good as Watkins and he too will be a free agent after this season.

I’ll bet Tyrod Taylor was not a happy man when he heard of the trade. Taylor just lost his best receiver and number one deep threat. How do the Bills make up for that in the offense? 

Darby being traded, while still surprising, is nowhere near as high on the shock meter as Watkins being dealt. Darby is coming off a rocky second season with the Bills and might not be a great fit in Sean McDermott’s defense.  

When Brandon Beane was asked whether or not the 2017 Bills are a better team after these moves, he responded by saying you could go either way with the answer. I don’t think there is any question the Bills are not better. The best player out of the four involved in the two transactions was Sammy Watkins and he is now an ex-Bill. But lets face it, what was 2017 going to be about? It was about McDermott and Beane seeing exactly what they have and what they will need, from the quarterback on down. I didn’t think the Bills were a playoff team with Watkins and Darby, and I don’t think they’re a playoff team with Matthews and E.J. Gaines.  

In case you were wondering, this isn’t a tank move since the Bills likely got two starters back in the deals. A true tank would have been trading Watkins and Darby for just picks.  
I do like the idea of adding more draft picks/capital if indeed the Bills plan to go searching for a quarterback in the first round of the 2018 draft. The additional assets could come in handy should the Bills be in a position where they have to try and move up to get the quarterback they like. At the very least, a team that has plenty of needs now has six picks in the top-100 and could add more through compensatory selections.

If Matthews and Gaines are not re-signed after the season, you can add wide receiver and cornerback to that list. Actually, they will probably be on the list regardless since Anquan Boldin is under contract for just one season and quality cornerback depth is critical in a pass-happy league.

Here’s your stat of the day from The Buffalo News: Assuming the 2017 Bills draft was McDermott and not Doug Whaley’s, there are now just 10 players on the roster who were brought in during Whaley’s four-year run as general manager.

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