When news of the Buffalo Bills acquiring wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin broke, I almost didn’t believe it. When I saw that the Carolina Panthers gave him to the Bills for picks in the third and seventh rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, I really didn’t believe it. The Bills come out of the deal as clear winners, adding a legitimate number one wide receiver to an otherwise middling group overall. Which players on the current Bills roster stand to gain the most from the trade? How about those who lose the most? As with any trade, there are always winners and losers.
Winner: QB Tyrod Taylor
I mean, how couldn’t Taylor be positively giddy about a 6’5”, 243-pound receiver with a huge catch radius and the ability to be “open even when he’s covered”? While Taylor is careful with the ball, throwing fewer “50-50” balls than maybe any quarterback in the league, he also loves to attack defenses vertically along the boundaries. Benjamin gives him an option who can win one-on-one matchups through sheer size and strength, and I imagine an instant rapport between the two developing.
Loser: WR Andre Holmes
The Bills’ current leader in receiving touchdowns may have seen his role on offense diminished greatly, although it probably won’t be eliminated altogether. While Holmes was not posting eye-popping numbers on the season (11 catches, 97 yards, three touchdowns), he was playing on nearly 50% of Buffalo’s offensive snaps. With Benjamin sure to join Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones as the top-three receivers, Holmes should be the odd man out, leaving him to spend most of his time contributing on special teams and specific red zone packages.
Winner: WR Zay Jones
Buffalo’s rookie wideout has struggled to consistently perform against outside cornerbacks this season, but Benjamin’s presence might allow him to slip into the slot at times to exploit better matchups over the middle of the field. After his best game as a professional this past Sunday, it appears that Jones and Taylor may have turned a corner in their partnership together, and while adding another big target may cause Jones’s targets to diminish slightly, the quality of those targets may improve based on matchups alone. I really like what this addition does for Buffalo’s incumbent receivers, and I think Jones stands to benefit most.
Loser: RB Joe Banyard
Any time a player is acquired, another player has to lose his spot on the 53-man roster. For Banyard, this is the second time the Bills have cut him this season. It can’t be easy to know that you were thought of as the most expendable person on the offense, and even though he hadn’t contributed much, it is still the clearest loss associated with the trade.
Winner: WR Jordan Matthews
Everything that makes this deal a win for Zay Jones makes it a win for Matthews, as well. Matthews has operated as the de facto number one receiver this year, and while his versatility is a bonus, he has done his best work over his career from the slot. The Bills can now mix and match with Jones and Matthews playing inside and outside, which will allow them to exploit matchups on a game-to-game basis while also putting their offensive skill position players in a situation that works most with that talent.
Loser: Brandon Tate
Even after delivering one of the coolest plays I’ve ever seen in a professional game, Tate should now be relegated to return duties on Sundays. This limits his role personally, but it puts the Bills in the best situation to win on Sundays. Barring injury, Tate is almost certain to see his offensive snaps drop near zero.