When news broke over the weekend that the New York Jets had sent three second round picks to the Indianapolis Colts, negotiating a move up to the third overall pick, NFL Draft followers immediately pounced on the updated narrative: the Buffalo Bills had lost one trade suitor for securing a top quarterback, and the replacement was a team who could be very keen on selecting one of those players.
The assumption now holds that the Bills will need to make a blockbuster move of their own to get ahead of the Jets. The Bills have the pick value to make it happen (except for the top-ten pick that made the Jets trade so attractive to the Colts), but they don’t have the leverage, having lost a potential negotiating partner. Still, while Brandon Beane claimed to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King that he doesn’t have an opinion on any quarterbacks yet, with six weeks before the draft, the team can’t afford to wait before opening lines of communication.
Speaking on his radio show Monday morning, host Dan Patrick reported that the Bills had contacted the Cleveland Browns about moving to the first overall pick in the draft. He also mentioned that the Jets had called Cleveland before executing their trade to number three. Later that morning, Denver radio host Benjamin Allbright reported the same, adding that the Broncos had also called, but that Cleveland has been a firm no.
It would make sense that teams are trying to feel out Cleveland’s price. There’s a little over a month before the draft, the Browns still own the fourth pick as a backup option, and only two years ago we saw the first and second picks dealt for quarterbacks. For a team like Buffalo, who owns the second-most draft capital this year, it would be natural to check in with the Browns about this possibility, to ensure they get “their guy” (that Beane hasn’t yet developed a preference for).
The intrigue developed further a few hours later, when one or more sources chose to simultaneously pass information to WGR550’s Sal Capaccio, Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News, and ESPN beat reporter Mike Rodak, suggesting the exact opposite. No, the source(s) said, the Bills have not contacted the Browns regarding the number one pick.
Read into that what you will. Perhaps the source was being cheeky, and the Bills are actually in discussion about the number four pick. Maybe Patrick and Allbright had false info. Maybe the Bills really haven’t figured out their draft plan at this stage in the process.
Still, what is the saying about rumors? Don’t believe the story until someone puts out a press release denying it?
With five and a half weeks to go, hopefully Schrödinger’s Bills can decide whether they do or don’t have interest in a top-five pick before all the trading partners are gone.