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Rams acquire WR Sammy Watkins from Bills in blockbuster trade

Rams acquire WR Sammy Watkins from Bills in blockbuster trade

Watkins, 24, was drafted by the Bills with the fourth-overall draft pick in 2014 after Buffalo traded its first- and fourth-round picks in the following draft to the Cleveland Browns to move up the No. 4. It was one of those tweets involving a big enough name (and not quite enough information) that make you look for the little blue check multiple times. There's a bit of irony to all of this: After the Bills sacrificed picks to draft Watkins in 2014, the team is now adding picks by trading him in 2017. With Matthews likely on the outs with Philadelphia heading into the final year of his rookie deal, there had been tons of trade rumors and the Eagles finally pulled the trigger on a deal which returns a starting corner they desperately needed. And 2015 second-round pick Ronald Darby, who started two years at cornerback for Buffalo, was sent to Philadelphia in exchange for wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a conditional third-round pick in 2018.

So what exactly did the Bills get out of all this?

The Bills declined to pick up Watkin's fifth-year option on his contract back in May, so his future with the organization was already in question.

It's not hard to see why the Bills might not be thrilled with him.

When he was on the field, though, Watkins was a stud. He's a solid wide receiver. During his rookie season, Watkins had 128 targets from Kyle Orton and E.J.

However, Matthews is still a talented receiver who could be effective in the upcoming season.

Even as he missed eight games last season because of a foot injury that ultimately required surgery, Watkins still averaged 15.4 yards per reception, a threshold no Rams receiver reached in 2016.




"Definitely surprised", said quarterback Tyrod Taylor. "He's, like, just Sammy Watkins". The fit is unusual because the Bills now have what amount to three big slot receivers in Matthews, rookie Zay Jones, and new free-agent signee Anquan Boldin. It could look something like the Tennessee Titans of last season, though similar efficiency is certainly not guaranteed. That may prove to be a big "if" but Watkins has proven to me a very efficient player when he can stay on the field.

The Bills' secondary did need to improve, as last season, they ranked 20th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Out the door were the team's top receiver and top cornerback. He beat Sean Smith over the top for a 48-yard catch, tip-toed the sidelines for a third-down conversion, caught a 28-yard touchdown over his back shoulder, outmuscled Ron Parker to haul in another deep ball in double coverage and leapt over Smith for a 21-yard touchdown that stunned the opposing crowd. The Rams intend to eventually sign Watkins beyond this coming season and are hoping he can stay healthy.

In each of the two trades, draft picks were involved.

While the National Football League preseason has just started, it looks like the Buffalo Bills are making some moves. Is Gaines an upgrade over Darby?

In the months that followed, they went about crossing off items with admirable meticulousness.

But the Bills are investing in their future.

The Bills jolted the National Football League landscape with a pair of trades in a matter of minutes on Friday.


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