Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has not been shy about making trades in his tenure as the head of the team’s football operations. Whether he’s dealing late-round draft choices to move up in the middle rounds of a draft or swapping players who project as reserves for those late-round picks, Beane has consistently found ways to maximize the team’s resources.
This year was no different, as the Bills’ GM made six trades in the calendar year. The deals Beane made all appear to have come out in Buffalo’s favor, with a caveat: the Bills still need to use the draft choices acquired in some of the deals.
Below is a brief recap of the Magic Beanes sewn by Buffalo’s general manager.
Trade 1—Bills send Pick No. 40 and No. 158 to Oakland Raiders for Pick No. 38 (Cody Ford)
The Bills flipped a fifth-round draft choice to the Raiders in order to move up two spots to select the man who logged the majority of the snaps at right tackle this season. Many thought Ford had first-round potential, but some confusion as to what his best position would be may have led him to drop out of the first round. That confusion still exists, as Ford had an uneven season at tackle, and there is still some chatter about him moving inside to guard depending on what the Bills do this offseason. The best part about this trade? The Bills used the draft pick acquired in the A.J. McCarron trade from last season to move up to draft Ford. Where did Buffalo send McCarron? Oakland. That’s Magic Beaneing at its finest. Oakland used the No. 40 overall pick to select a cornerback, Trayvon Mullen, who went one pick after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected another corner (who also happens to be one of my favorite players in the league), Sean Murphy-Bunting. The Raiders actually traded the 158th pick again, this time sending it to the Dallas Cowboys, who drafted cornerback Michael Jackson.
Trade 2—Bills send Pick No. 112 and No. 131 to Washington for Pick No. 96 (Dawson Knox)
Buffalo sent two fourth-round choices to D.C. for the right to select the team’s tight end of the future. Knox had a great athletic profile coming out of Ole Miss, but he lacked production throughout his collegiate career. As a rookie, he scored two touchdowns and caught 28 passes for 388 yards, displaying some of the phenomenal athleticism on a number of big receptions. He had issues with drops, and while he was a better blocker than expected, he still had his moments of misery, including a missed block at the worst possible time—in overtime on a Josh Allen sweep against the Houston Texans in the playoffs. With the picks, Washington drafted running back Bryce Love, who spent the year on the non-football injury list while recovering from a knee injury suffered in college, and guard Wes Martin, who played in nine games and made five starts.
Trade 3—Bills send Eli Harold to the Philadelphia Eagles for Ryan Bates
With offensive line depth at a premium, Beane struck a deal to acquire Bates, an undrafted rookie who signed with Philadelphia after the draft in April. At the time, the deal was a risky one—Harold was a proven commodity as a pass rusher, and Bates had been available for the Bills to pick seven different times in the draft and they decided against it. However, the deal ended up a good one, as Bates showed his fantastic versatility early in camp. He made the 53-man roster, and while he was inactive for most games, he showed himself to be capable of playing anywhere along the line in a pinch. He appeared in eight games this year, handling 71 offensive snaps. Harold, meanwhile, was released during Philadelphia’s final cuts and did not play this year. Chalk another one up to Brandon Beane.
Trade 4—Bills send Wyatt Teller and a 2021 seventh-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for 2020 fifth- and sixth-round picks
This is a classic example of taking a player who wasn’t going to make the final roster and turning him into some worthwhile assets. The Bills vastly overhauled their offensive line last spring, bringing in Quinton Spain, Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano, and Spencer Long at guard. Even though the team spent a fifth-round draft choice on Teller in 2018, even giving the young man seven starts as a rookie, the Bills knew that, at best, Teller would be the team’s second interior lineman off the bench. Rather than release him or keep him as an inactive on game days, the team swung him to the Browns for two draft picks in this year’s draft. Given Beane’s history of trading up in the annual selection spectacular, it’s safe to assume that the Bills will use one or both of these picks to move up the draft board to acquire a player in the middle rounds. Teller played in 15 games this year for Cleveland, starting nine. Pro Football Focus gave him a 56.7 overall grade for the year.
Trade 5—Bills send Russell Bodine to the New England Patriots for a 2020 sixth-round pick
Any time the Bills make a trade with the Evil Empire, we fans worry that Bill Belichick, a.k.a. The Hoodie, will be able to make a fool of the team by turning their mediocre player into some sort of star in Foxborough. After the Patriots’ starting center, David Andrews, was lost for the year to injury, they were desperate for someone with actual NFL experience to hold down the position. Bodine was traded to New England on August 30, just one day after Beane traded Teller. On September 6, two days before New England’s season opener, Bodine was released. He did not sign with another team until December 31, when the Detroit Lions inked him to a reserve/future contract. Point, Beane.
Trade 6—Bills send Zay Jones to Raiders for a 2021 fifth-round pick
Buffalo gave up on Jones, a third-year receiver whom the Bills traded up to select in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. That deal was questionable when it happened, given the thought that Jones’s college production was bolstered by a gimmick offense and a weak conference, and it has only looked worse with the progression of time. Jones has been unable to make any sort of name for himself in his three years in the league, while several other receivers in his class who were drafted after him (Curtis Samuel, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Dede Westbrook) have all made significant impacts on their respective clubs. Hell, even Isaiah McKenzie, drafted in the sixth round by the Denver Broncos in 2017, had more success in 2019 as a gadget player than Jones did as a receiver. Drafting Jones was a huge miss by the organization, and dealing a pick in order to draft him makes it worse. For Beane to find a taker on Jones for any sort of compensation—even a fifth-round pick—was a pretty great trade. Jones finished the year by playing in ten games for Oakland. He was targeted 27 times, catching 20 of them for 147 yards.