The Buffalo Bills were incredibly active on the trade front today. General manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott both spoke about the trades of Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams and Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles, both of which are still contingent on the players involved passing physicals.
Beane stressed that the team wasn’t shopping either player, but received very strong offers for both players that were hard to ignore (Update: I should clarify that Beane brought up that the trades developed independently over the last few weeks). Given how closely the two trades are linked as far as the positions of the players involved, Beane couldn’t say what would have happened if either trade had fallen through.
Beane mentioned that the trades were brought to McDermott and owner Terry Pegula after the 17-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night. Beane emphasized the communal decision-making, while McDermott stressed that it was a sleepless night for him after the decision was made to go ahead with the trades. Both men brought up the human element and stressed their fondness for Watkins and Darby as men.
While the trades can lend plenty of speculation to the possibility of more moves to come, Beane stressed that he isn’t actively shopping anybody, saying, “I don’t like the word untouchable. I’m not shopping guys, selling guys, that’s the honest-to-God truth.” Reggie Ragland’s name was specifically brought up to prompt that remark, so if any other teams are interested in the second-year linebacker they’ll need to make the initial call.
Much of the discussion centered around Watkins. Beane pointed out that he had not spoken to Sammy about his future intentions, but mentioned several that “re-signability” was a factor in the moves. McDermott also spoke to that, saying that the discussion he had with Watkins earlier in the offseason was centered around his health and not his intentions around staying in Buffalo after 2017. It’s important to note that incoming receiver Jordan Matthews is also entering the final year of his rookie deal, although he likely won’t command anything near the salary that Watkins could land with a strong season.
Speaking of Matthews, McDermott was very complimentary of both him and EJ Gaines, specifically talking up their experience in the league (Matthews has 36 starts in three seasons while Gaines has 25 sandwiched around a lost season in 2015 due to a lisfranc injury). Matthews’ fit on the roster was questioned, given that he’s primarily worked out of the slot with the Philadelphia Eagles and the team already had two slot-type receivers in Anquan Boldin and Zay Jones. That’s something that will play out over the next three weeks, but both men seemed confident in Matthews’ ability to split outside, so it’s a safe bet that he’ll be doing just that.
Both men downplayed any talk of a tank, especially Beane, who seemed to take offense to the idea (“win today, win tomorrow” he said, reitrating what’s seemingly become his motto). That said, both men also talked up the importance of building through the draft. The Bills now have two picks in each of the first three rounds in 2018, and the second-rounder from the Rams could be a high one (as could the Bills’ own pick, for that matter). Beane notably debated whether or not the 2017 team is any better than it was this morning, but it’s clear that the moves were made with a definite eye towards tomorrow instead of today.