Friday is typically one of the most quiet days of the NFL week. This Friday, however, is different. First, the league announced that it had suspended Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott for the first six games of the upcoming season. Not even an hour later, the Buffalo Bills made announcements of their own.
According to the team's Twitter account, the Bills have made two trades involving two of their starting players:
We've acquired CB E.J. Gaines and a 2018 2nd round pick from the Rams for WR Sammy Watkins and a 2018 6th round pick.
We've acquired WR Jordan Matthews and a 2018 3rd round pick from the Eagles for CB Ronald Darby.
Let's break down the two trades.
What the Bills give up
Sammy Watkins, the fourth overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft, has been the Bills' number one wide receiver the last three seasons. The 24-year old caught 153 passes for 2,459 yards and 17 touchdowns in the 37 games he played for the team. However, he also has struggled with injuries and appeared in only eight games last season. Consequently, Buffalo opted not to pick up his fifth-year contract option.
Ronald Darby, on the other hand, was picked in the second round of the 2015 draft. He quickly established himself as one of the Bills' starting perimeter cornerbacks. Playing opposite Stephon Gilmore, who joined the New England Patriots this offseason, the 23-year old appeared in 29 games for the team, registering two interceptions (both during his rookie campaign).
As noted above, Buffalo will also give up a 2018 sixth round draft pick as part of the Watkins trade.
What the Bills receive
E.J. Gaines is expected to replace Darby in Buffalo's starting lineup. The 25-year old originally entered the NFL as a sixth round draft pick by the then-St. Louis Rams in 2014. In his three seasons in the league, the 5'10 Gaines appeared in 26 games – missing the entire 2015 campaign due to injury – and registered two interceptions as one of the Rams starting cornerbacks.
Jordan Matthews was picked in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. The 6'3 wideout played the second-most snaps on his team last season and finished with 73 catches for 804 yards and three scores. Over the course of his three-year career, the 25-year old has caught 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. Consequently, he will take over for Watkins as one of Buffalo's top offensive weapons.
As noted above, Buffalo will also receive a 2018 second round draft pick as well as a 2018 third round draft pick.
The Bills' new leadership of head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane has basically replaced Watkins and Darby one-by-one. While it remains to be seen whether or not the two moves will actually make the team better in the short term, the two draft picks give Buffalo additional capital to move around the board during next year's draft.