Former Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix jokingly called himself a "riverboat gambler" when his team traded up two spots in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft by moving a seventh-round pick. That was one of only a handful of trades made while Nix was in charge. His successor, Doug Whaley, has taken a different approach on the trade front.
Since the start of the 2013 NFL Draft, when it was widely believed that Whaley was being phased in and Nix phased out, Buffalo has made eight trades. They traded down in the first round last year, netting picks that would land EJ Manuel and Kiko Alonso. They swapped Kelvin Sheppard for Jerry Hughes, and Chris White for Thad Lewis last offseason, as well. This offseason, Whaley sent a sixth-rounder to Tampa Bay for Mike Williams before a whirlwind draft weekend. You've likely heard by now that the Bills traded two first round picks and a 2015 mid-rounder to select Sammy Watkins a day before shipping Stevie Johnson to San Francisco for a mid-round pick in 2015. In the second round they traded down, netting an extra fifth-round selection and now have traded the pick acquired in the Johnson trade for Eagles running back Bryce Brown.
To find the eight trades Buffalo made preceding Whaley's run, you have to go back to Russ Brandon's nominal stint as general manager when Dick Jauron was running the show. The team traded for Marcus Stroud in March of 2008, surrendering third- and fifth-round picks. (We're not counting the failed John McCargo trade here.) A month after trading for Stroud, they shipped a disgruntled Jason Peters to the Eagles for first-, fourth-, and sixth-rounders spread over the 2008 and 2009 drafts. In the 2009 NFL Draft, that crew traded third and fourth round selections for Andy Levitre. Later that offseason, they traded Ko Simpson for a seventh round pick in 2010. During the 2010 season, the just-promoted Nix traded Marshawn Lynch for two picks. The following offseason, it was Lee Evans who was expendable, netting a fourth rounder. Following the aforementioned trade-up in the 2012 draft, they traded a 2013 pick for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
It's clear that Whaley values moving players and picks more than Nix ever did. That's not a bad thing; it's just different. Here is a visual on the trades the Bills have made in roughly the last calendar year.
|Assets acquired||Assets relinquished|
|RB Bryce Brown||2015 Round 4 pick (conditional)|
|2014 Round 2 (OT Cyrus Kouandjio), 2014 Round 5||2014 Round 2 (DB Lamarcus Joyner)|
|2015 Round 4 pick (conditional)||WR Stevie Johnson|
|2014 Round 1 pick (WR Sammy Watkins)||2014 Round 1, 2015 Round 1, 2015 Round 4|
|WR Mike Williams||2014 Round 6|
|QB Thad Lewis||LB Chris White|
|DE Jerry Hughes||LB Kelvin Sheppard|
|2013 Round 1 (QB EJ Manuel), 2013 Round 2 (LB Kiko Alonso), 2013 Round 3 (WR Marquise Goodwin), and 2013 Round 7 (TE Chris Gragg)||2013 Round 1 (WR Tavon Austin), 2013 Round 3 (S T.J. McDonald)|