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Doug Marrone clarifies stance on Sammy Watkins draft trade

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Buffalo’s former head coach reportedly was unhappy when the trade was announced

The Buffalo Bills sent three draft picks to the Cleveland Browns during the 2014 NFL Draft in order to move up to draft Sammy Watkins. The Bills were slated to pick ninth, but they sent that selection, their 2015 first-round choice (which turned out to be number 19), and their 2015 fourth-round choice (115 overall) to Cleveland for the fourth pick in the 2014 draft. General manager Doug Whaley and team President Russ Brandon were each described as showing different displays of exuberance, according to a piece written by Tim Graham of The Buffalo News at the time, but no mention came of head coach Doug Marrone’s feelings at the time.

While on a conference call with reporters in advance of this Sunday’s game between Marrone’s new club, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Sammy Watkins’s new club, the Los Angeles Rams, the head coach tried to clarify his hesitance to embrace the deal at the time. Marrone said that it “wasn’t the player” that he was upset about, as he viewed Watkins as a “special player.” Instead, he said that he was upset about “giving up too much not knowing what [Buffalo’s] quarterback situation was.”

Bills Brass expected that EJ Manuel, 2013’s first round draft pick, would be the quarterback; however, Marrone obviously thought differently, as he benched Manuel four games into the 2014 season, replacing him with veteran Kyle Orton. This obvious disconnect between management and the coaching staff, combined with uncertainty regarding Buffalo’s ownership situation after the passing of founder Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., led to Marrone exercising a 4 million dollar buyout clause in his contract at the end of a 9-7 campaign.

While it’s quite possible that Marrone could merely be hedging his emotions and trying to remain polite, he’s never exactly been known to soften his temperament with questions from the media. It’s not hard to blame him for being upset with the amount of resources it took to acquire Watkins, nor is it difficult to understand why he was happy to have a player of Sammy’s caliber on his roster.

The former Bills meet this week in Jacksonville for a 4:05 kickoff.