The day following the team’s first preseason game, a day where we were supposed to be talking about Jonathan Williams impressive performance, or the backup QB competition, the Buffalo Bills took the over the NFL spotlight with a couple of blockbuster moves. The Bills made two franchise changing trades, sending Sammy Watkins to the Rams, and Ronald Darby to the Eagles.
There were few hints leading up to these moves, and naturally the entire Buffalo fan base was shocked. The Bills managed to bring back an impressive haul which included WR Jordan Matthews, CB EJ Gaines, and two draft picks, a second and a third, in the upcoming draft.
The Bills had already shown that they had big plans for the 2018 NFL Draft, as they acquired Kansas City’s first round pick on draft night. Now, with the additions yesterday, the Bills will have six picks in the first three rounds, an absolute gold mine by NFL standards.
Clearly, the Bills are collecting assets to use in their pursuit of a franchise QB, the type of player they haven’t seen since Jim Kelly hung up the cleats. However, while that vision seems clear now, previous moves put somewhat of an obstacle in their path.
The Bills have said time and time again that they are trying to win this year, and they’ve proven it’s more than just talk. The Bills brought back Tyrod Taylor, Kyle Williams, and Lorenzo Alexander with the goal of winning in 2017. However, after the draft night trade, and these trades, there’s a clear contradiction in their actions. Why trade for all these picks, if you’re trying to field the best team you can in 2017?
Unless you truly walk around with the rose colored glasses on, it was clear that the Bills ceiling this season sat somewhere between 7-8 wins. Lack of depth in the secondary, a scheme switch, and a new staff make it tough for a team to win big out of the gate. Sure, things could’ve gone their way, McCoy and Sammy dominate, and they could’ve hit that ten win mark, you never know, justification enough to bring these guys back.
However, while you didn’t get significantly worse after yesterday’s moves, you certainly didn’t get better. Jordan Matthews is a nice player, but no one is going to put him in the same class, talent wise, as Sammy Watkins. Gaines and Darby are both average corners in the league. So, if your team, as constructed, was already a long shot to make the playoffs, why make these moves, and still attempt to compete for a playoff spot?
The Bills clearly don’t want to tank. You don’t bring back Tyrod, Kyle, and Lorenzo if you plan on bottoming out. It appears their plan is to try and win, and use these picks to trade up for a franchise QB. That’s a great plan, if you can get someone to bite, and good luck with that.
The 2018 QB class is supposed to be one of the best in a long time. There’s 3-4 guys who could go in the top five, and if these guys are as good as advertised, there’s no guarantee any collection of picks will work in a trade. Say the Jets, Browns, and 49ers finish in the bottom three. Do you see any of them trading out of their spot if a franchise QB is staring them in the face?
The Bills have to hope a team that already has a QB stumbles on some bad luck, and ends up with a top five pick. That would give them a potential trading partner, who’s fans aren’t bringing out the pitchforks for not taking a QB. But, why take your chances on that scenario, when you could’ve been one of those bottom teams to begin with?
If you want a guaranteed shot at a QB, why not let Tyrod walk, along with Kyle and Lorenzo, and really commit to the plan? I understand Beane and McDermott don’t want to look weak in their first year, but fans would likely understand the goal.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the moves. Getting picks for a player who was likely walking in a year, and a CB who doesn’t fit the new scheme, is a big win. The Bills have a plan, and that plan is to walk out of the 2018 draft with a shiny new QB, and a sense of hope that Buffalo hasn’t had in a long time.
The only problem is, they’ve made their path harder than it needs to be, all for a couple of extra wins. Sure, a 1-15 season is crushing for all those involved, but what’s the difference between winning one game, or winning six? Neither gets you that playoff spot.
Maybe the Bills will shock us all, and get that playoff spot they’ve been chasing for so long. They’ll find a trading partner, get that top pick, and snag that QB. Or, maybe even as currently constructed, they’ll bottom out, and have their pick of the litter. However, at the current moment, the Bills want to have their cake and eat it too, and that slice of cake could lead to that franchise QB slipping away.