Lest we forget there are 31 other teams in the NFL not called the Dallas Cowboys, the Buffalo Bills have pushed their way into the headlines Friday afternoon: the team has pulled off two trades.
As reported by Yahoo’s Charles Robinson, in the first trade, the Bills are sending receiver Sammy Watkins and a sixth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams, and are receiving the Rams’ 2018 second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines in exchange.
Moments later, Robinson reported another deal – in this, Buffalo acquired receiver Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick from the Philadelphia Eagles, with the Eagles receiving CB Ronald Darby. According to Robinson, the Bills and Eagles have been discussing the Matthews trade since before the NFL Draft.
The Bills have since confirmed the trades.
The big name in all of this is Watkins. The fourth overall pick out of Clemson in 2014, he entered the league with great fanfare, and former Bills general manager Doug Whaley traded up to nab Watkins. A speedster who was the rare player to be named All-American as a freshman, Watkins’ career in Buffalo has been derailed by foot injuries. He played in just 21 games over the 2015-16 seasons.
He’s said to be healthy now after undergoing a second foot surgery in January. But it’s unlikely Watkins was in Buffalo’s long term plans: the team had previously declined his fifth-year option, and as such he’s in the final year of his rookie contract.
Watkins joins a Rams offense that struggled mightily last season with Case Keenum and Jared Goff at quarterback; Los Angeles was last in the league nearly across the board in almost every statistical category.
But the Rams are now being led by Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in the NFL, and an offensive-minded coach charged with making Goff, last year’s No. 1 pick, into one of the league’s top young passers, and turning around a franchise that has been the definition of mediocrity for years.
Matthews, also a member of the 2014 draft class – he was a second-round pick from Vanderbilt – has played in 46 of 48 career games, missing two last year with a sprained ankle. He was a solid member of the Eagles’ offense, averaging 75 catches, 891 yards and just over six touchdowns per game for his career.
The Eagles, who were in dire need of starting cornerbacks, got one in Darby, who started all 29 games he’s been available for over the first two years of his career.
Buffalo now has quite a lot of draft capital in 2018: as a result of its trade with the Kansas CIty Chiefs, it has two first round picks (the Chiefs traded up to take QB Pat Mahomes), two second round picks, and two third-round picks.