The 2017 Buffalo Bills have surprised everyone. The team sits at 3-1, and has now beaten two of the last four Super Bowl participants (and were inches away from beating a third). Head Coach Sean McDermott has led a revamped defense to a league-low 13.5 points per game. However, an offense that finished tenth in the league with 24.9 points per game has struggled at times, and is currently averaging only 18.3 points per game (23rd in the league).
The offensive problems shouldn’t be surprising. The Bills have struggled to run the ball and lack any real offensive playmakers outside of LeSean McCoy. To make matters worse, the Bills’ de facto number one wide receiver, Jordan Matthews, will now be out at least a few games. A lack of separation (and drops) has been an issue prior to Matthews’ injury. There is no reason to think this will change without him.
While McDermott continues to preach “the Process,” the Bills are 3-1 in a weak AFC. They also have six picks in the first three rounds. While it is exciting to discuss trading for a player with one of those six picks, this article will forego that unrealistic exercise. But with the Bills’ draft capital at the top of the draft, the lower round picks become less valuable (just because of roster numbers and the amount of rookies). Even if the Bills package a few picks, they will still in all likelihood have five rookies from the top three rounds. This makes the fourth, fifth, and seventh round picks more expendable. Each of the below players could probably be had for those picks (or some combination of such picks and 2019 picks).
Wide Receiver Trade Targets
Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis Colts)
Moncrief is the biggest name, and most unlikely player to be available on this list. However, Moncrief will be a free agent next year and with the Colts sitting at 1-3 and with no Andrew Luck for the foreseeable future, Moncrief could be considered expendable in what could be shaping up as a lost season. Moncrief is a former 3rd round pick (4.40 and 39.5 inch vertical at 6’2” 221), who has yet to top 733 yards in his first three seasons (although he only played 9 games last year and Andrew Luck missed games in 2015). Moncrief would provide a big target with deep speed and is very young, having just turned 24 years old in August.
Travis Benjamin (Los Angeles Chargers)
Benjamin is a better version of Marquise Goodwin. But Benjamin can stay on the field, only missing more than 2 games once in his five full seasons. Benjamin is not quite Goodwin-fast (4.27 to 4.36) but had a 966-yard season in 2015 and produced 677 yards last year. Cutting against Benjamin is the mid-tier contract he signed following the 2015 season. Unlike Moncrief, the Chargers have Benjamin under contract until the end of 2019 and would have to absorb $2.5 million in accelerated dead money in a trade. The Chargers (see below) have numerous wide receivers and are 0-4.
Dontrelle Inman (Los Angeles Chargers)
Inman is the fourth option in a crowded San Diego wide receiver group. He has size (6’ 3”) and speed (4.47 at his pro day), and produced 58 catches for 810 yards as a primary target due to injuries last year. Inman is by no means a big name or big-time player even, but has been a more productive version of Andre Holmes when given the opportunity. Like Moncrief, Inman will a free agent following the season and the Chargers are facing an unrealistic climb out of the cellar.
Markus Wheaton (Chicago Bears)
Wheaton is not exciting, but he would be an instant upgrade as a 2nd receiver until Matthews gets back and as a 3rd when he does. Wheaton ran a 4.45 at the 2013 NFL Combine and flashed at times as a back-up in Pittsburgh’s prolific passing attack. He signed a cheap two-year contract with the Chicago Bears this off-season but missed the first two games of the season due to injury and has yet to catch a pass on his five targets. The Bears finally made the switch to 2nd overall pick Mitch Trubisky but are certainly in rebuilding mode.
Running Back Trade Targets
LeSean McCoy is awesome and barring injury will serve as the Bills bellcow all season. But he has touched the ball 99 times in four games. When the team shockingly released second-year player Jonathan Williams, they left themselves with no viable backup at the position. Mike Tolbert is a veteran leader and fun to root for, but he is not a viable NFL backup running back (or at least not one that can consistently and effectively give Shady a break). Running back is not a premium position in the NFL, so the Bills would probably be able to upgrade with relative ease (or just re-sign Jonathan Williams off of the Denver Broncos practice squad).
Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati Bengals)
While a move this week would seem unlikely, Hill should be available. The Bengals presumably drafted his replacement in Joe Mixon in the 2017 draft and have a dynamic change of pace back in Giovani Bernard. Hill is in the last year of his contract and has shown the ability to be a prolific player in the past (1,124 yards and 5.1 YPC in 2014). Admittedly, Hill has struggled in recent years but a change of scenery and running behind the Bills line and with Tyrod Taylor at QB might be just what he needs.
T.J. Yeldon (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Bills fans will most likely remember Yeldon for the 20-carry, 115-yard game he produced in London in 2015 (or from the national championship he won at Alabama in 2012). Like Hill, the Jaguars presumably drafted over Yeldon in taking Leonard Fournette fourth overall this past draft. Yeldon was inactive last week (he’s fresh!) and could probably be had for a late round pick.