If the Buffalo Bills are to snap the NFL’s longest postseason drought (Buffalo hasn’t made the playoffs since falling to the Tennessee Titans in the Music City Miracle during the 1999 season), first-year general manager Brandon Beane and first-year head coach Sean McDermott are going to need to shore up some holes.
While it’s debatable which is the biggest area of concern on the Bills, wide receiver is a huge position of need, despite Deonte Thompson’s strong Bills’ debut —four catches for 107 yards, the most receiving yards by a Buffalo wide receiver this year.
Jordan Matthews is Buffalo’s de facto No. 1 wide receiver with 12 receptions for 172 yards and one touchdown. Buffalo’s leading receiver is LeSean McCoy with 32 receptions (for 220 yards), while injured tight end Charles Clay is second with 20 receptions for a team-high 258 receiving yards and two TDs.
With the NFL’s trade deadline fast-approaching at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31, could the Bills be serious players in a trade for T.Y. Hilton, the talented wideout who led the league with 1,448 receiving yards in 2016?
Hilton would certainly be a versatile threat for Tyrod Taylor, and the sixth-year veteran would automatically be Buffalo’s top receiver and deep threat. He can play out wide or in the slot, running precise routes wherever he is on the field.
Through his six-year career, Hilton has amassed 6,373 receiving yards on 401 catches with 31 touchdowns. This year, without the services of injured Andrew Luck, Hilton has caught 27 of 49 targets for 512 receiving yards and one TD. Hilton’s biggest games this year came against the winless Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, as Hilton has amassed 330 yards against those two feeble foes, compared to 182 yards in Indianapolis’ five other contests.
What would it take to get Hilton, 28, who signed a five-year, $65-million deal with $39 million in guaranteed money prior to the 2015 season? Hilton is under contract through the 2020 season at reasonable numbers for a No. 1 wide receiver, making $10 million in 2017, $13 million in 2018, $15 million in 2019, and $14.542 million in 2020.
Hilton’s cap hit makes him the sixth-most expensive WR in 2018, fifth-most expensive in 2019, and second only to Antonio Brown in 2020.
The Bills would most likely have to deal from their treasure chest of draft picks, as Beane wisely stockpiled picks and has two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and two third-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Beane could also dangle an offensive lineman (Buffalo has been carrying five tackles, with four of them possessing trade value— left tackle Cordy Glenn, right tackle Jordan Mills, and backup tackles Dion Dawkins and Seantrel Henderson, though Dawkins, the team’s second-round draft pick, most likely isn’t going anywhere.
A look at recent trades involving wide receivers should give Bills fans some idea of what it would take to land Hilton.
The Chicago Bears parted with a conditional 2018 draft pick (seventh round) for Dontrelle Inman of the Los Angeles Chargers. Inman only caught two passes for nine yards in 2017, but was buried on the Chargers’ depth chart, making him expendable.
Before the season started, the Pittsburgh Steelers sent Sammie Coates and a seventh-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
And earlier in the offseason, Beane and the Bills made a pair of trades involving wide receivers, dealing Sammy Watkins and a sixth-rounder to the Los Angeles Rams for E.J. Gaines and a second-rounder, and also sending Ronald Darby and a third-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles for Matthews.
Outside of Watkins, none of the wideouts traded recently even remotely come close to Hilton’s career production, meaning it should take a lot to bring Hilton to Western New York.