Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Aug 2017

Buffalo Trades Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby

Who says player-for-player trades never happen in the NFL? Buffalo shook up Friday afternoon by making a couple deals to revamp their receiving corps and secondary.

First, they dealt WR Sammy Watkins and a 2018 sixth-round pick to the LA Rams for CB E.J. Gaines and a 2018 second-round pick.

Then, with a new surplus at corner and a deficit at receiver, they traded CB Ronald Darby to Philadelphia for WR Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick.

So, Buffalo gets two mid-round picks next year, gets rid of a receiver they had opted not to use the fifth-year extension on this past offseason and would have become a free agent after the year, and downgrades at corner. They now have two picks each in the first, second and third rounds next year.

Very, very surprising news at this point in the preseason, but hey -- Buffalo's keeping things exciting out there.

Posted by: Bryan Knowles on 11 Aug 2017

37 comments, Last at 19 Aug 2017, 11:40pm by The Ninjalectual


by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:05pm

The cynical part of me thinks the league office decided to break the Zeke Elliot news just prior to this trade being announced, to dilute some of the blow-back.

by johonny :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:05pm

I seems like a decent idea. Tom Brady is on the wrong side of 40 and targeting 2018 to 2019 to be piling on talent when you think the Pats might have a new head coach and QB seems to be around the right time frame. Of course, it means 2017 is going to be rough.

by Pottsville Maro... :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:48pm

I get the idea, but disagree with the execution. It's very likely that Brady is going to decline significantly in the next 1-2 years. So it would be optimal to develop the talent you have right now, so that you're ready to compete when the Patriots' window closes. The Bills would have a much more competitive team in a couple years with a 26-28 year old Watkins than with a couple first or second year players they got with the picks.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 2:41pm

Isn't it just that they have a new coach who has said to the GM, "I don't want this guy, see if you can trade him for that guy over there".

And what new coaches want they invariably get especially when there's a new GM and therefore no longterm plan in place.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:06pm

That . . . seems really smart for the Bills? Actually, smart for everybody; Buffalo replaces an always-injured guy with Jordan Matthews who certainly hasn't been great, but he's been pretty good an actually seen the field. The Rams get a potential #1 WR, and, for a developing team, that seems worth a shot, plus if Watkins plays well, L.A. has to be a desirable market to stick around in. Philly's horrible secondary gets some improvement.

Seems kind of like a win-win-win trade.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:15pm

agree.d. trade loosk good on paper for all tema.s Matthews okay for Eags, some good potwential shown so may work out witjh Buffl.

Watkins in Buff maybe was never gonna work out. change ofg scenery good for him.

Eags end of deal looks nice

by ssereb :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:14pm

This feels like the Bills admitting that they're not going to keep Tyrod Taylor around, and I have a very hard time believing they're going to find a better QB than Taylor in the next few years.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:23pm

Next year is supposed to be a good QB draft, right? Two picks in each of the first three rounds certainly seems like plenty of opportunities to replace Taylor.

by ssereb :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:40pm

"Good QB draft" comes with all sorts of caveats, but sure, they'll probably have the resources to trade up for one of the top three guys. (I don't think they'll be bad enough to pick one of them without trading.) After that, it's a simple matter of choosing the right guy and developing him. Sarcasm aside, Taylor is enormously underrated and the Bills would have to do an unusually good job of drafting and development to end up better at QB than they are now.

by serutan :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 2:34pm

Agreed. Betcha if neither Lynch nor Simeien show much improvement this year, Elway would be happy to snarf Tyrod up if he is let go.
Was wr

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 8:54pm

Between Taylor and Kirk Cousins, this might be the best free agent QB class in years

by James-London :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:23pm

But Buffalo can't have nice things...

Seems like a smart set of trades for the Bills-two picks in the first three rounds next year is all kinds of awesome. I know notihng about college 'ball, but if the QB class is as good as advertised, the Bills have the picks to go get one

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by MarkV :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:47pm

I am skeptical of the College football QB class. Not that I have anything against this bunch, but almost every year in August the next years draft at QB looks great. Then after another year of tape and scouting, lots of players drop.

Part of this is what I consider a factor caused by FO. Most teams and scouts have figured out that low # of games started is a large risk factor. So the list of potential QB picks for next years draft is already effectively at its max. The only thing that will change is as players are exposed or injured they will fall off it. Two bad hits and decimate the QB potential of a class.

by mehllageman56 :: Sat, 08/12/2017 - 2:11pm

Yes and no. If the scouts cared that much about Qbase, they wouldn't be hyping Darnold, Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson, since all them have two years or less of tape to look at in college. Darnold has less than one season of tape, and everyone predicts he would go first. Baker Mayfield, who led the NCAA in passer rating last year and is returning for his senior year, is projected to go in the 3rd round at the earliest. According to Walter Football, many scouts think that's too high for him, but if he has another good year, he'll probably break Qbase. Mason Rudolph and Luke Falk are also returning seniors with good stats who aren't getting the respect Allen and Jackson get, even though they complete well over 60 percent of their passes, unlike Jackson and Allen. 2018 will probably be a good year because of those graduating seniors, possibly much better if Jake Browning, Jackson, Allen and Darnold come out. Two bad hits wouldn't be enough to decimate next year's class. Darnold getting injured would hurt a lot, but there will be franchise quarterbacks in the draft next year. They just might not get drafted in the first round.

The problem is, it's entirely possible there will be a couple Dak Prescotts next year who get drafted later than they deserve and produce early on. Teams are still going to blow their picks next year.

by Bryan Knowles :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:23pm

What it feels like is a "we fired our GM right after the draft, and the new guy is trying to fit in his plan in an abbreviated offseason" sort of thing.

by BroncosGuyAgain :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 9:26pm

That seems more or less correct. I would guess the new guy added up his assets and his deficits, determined Watkins wasn't that much of an asset, and sold said asset to shore up the deficits. Whether he commanded the right price is beyond my expertise. But the implied logic seems sound.

by bubqr :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:47pm

Is Darby any good? Jordan Matthews was a mediocre #2 WR on the last year of his deal, but unless Darby is at least a solid starting CB Matthews + a 3rd looks expensive, despite the awful CB situation.

by Bryan Knowles :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:50pm

He's better than Gaines, though I'm not super-sold on him in general. It does seem like an expensive price.

by Bryan Knowles :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 1:50pm

He's better than Gaines, though I'm not super-sold on him in general. It does seem like an expensive price.

by jshusted916 :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 2:24pm

Great that the Rams finally got the intermediate and deep threat they've so badly needed, if he can stay healthy (IHCSH). Funny that he's reunited with Robert Woods. Them as a duo is a major upgrade over Britt and Quick, ICHSH. It's exactly what they needed to utilize Tavon Austin underneath, ICHSH, and make Austin's contract not completely horrendous. If they can get average to above average play out of the o-line, McVay has some solid options to get creative with.

For those who watch the Bills, is Watkins IHCSH good enough to elevate his QB, or does he require the QB to elevate him?

On the negative side for the Rams, it is another draft asset out the window for a team that has wasted so many the past few years. And another nail in the coffin for Rams elite secondary from a 14-15. Classic Snead, invest heavily through the draft into defensive backs and then let the top performers walk (Jenkins, McLeod, McDonald), trade away their replacements, franchise Trumaine Johnson two years in a row with no sign of a long term deal. While not paying Aaron Donald and making him hold out into camp. They added Kayvon Webster but seems like an overpay.

Gaines was going to play a big role this year. If the defense falls off even slightly, Goff needs to be good, instead of mediocre, for the Rams to be average. Mediocre Goff already felt like a tall order.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 3:01pm

The only thing Sammy Watkins has been able to elevate is an injured limb.

by jshusted916 :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 3:17pm

Boom, roasted

by Tim R :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 3:56pm

C'mon man. At least let rams fans be optimistic for 5 minutes. We can dream until we actually have to watch the team play.

by BJR :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 6:40pm

I suppose it makes sense for the Rams to provide Goff with some proper talent so that a definitive judgment can be made on him this season. But giving up a second rounder for one year of Watkins doesn't seem wise from a business perspective.

by Tim R :: Sat, 08/12/2017 - 5:13am

Well yeah if its only 1 year its insane but i would assume most of an extension had been worked out prior to the trade.

But they have to give goff enough talent to see if hes salvageable at all at this point or just sunk cost.

by LionInAZ :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 8:35pm

Unhealthy Sammy Watkins might still provide more value than Healthy Tavon Austin.

by xydux :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 4:20pm

What the heck does IHCSH mean? The internet returns no results for it, and I'm totally confused.

Also why do you keep switching between IHCSH and ICHSH?

by mathesond :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 4:30pm

If He Can Stay Healthy

by jshusted916 :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 7:37pm

If he can stay healthy. as defined at the beginning of the post..

by jalsonmi :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 5:52pm

Any idea when a Kubiak will be released with these trades and the Elliott suspension added in?

by Bryan Knowles :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 7:38pm

Early on Saturday.

by BroncosGuyAgain :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 9:28pm

Kubiak will be released Saturday? I didn't even know he was in prison. I've got to stay more on top of the news.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 08/19/2017 - 11:40pm

Prison? My first thought was the hospital again, thank goodness I was wrong

by jalsonmi :: Fri, 08/11/2017 - 9:57pm


by Bucs_Rule :: Sat, 08/12/2017 - 2:31pm

Watkins is a very good, but not great, receiver when healthy and he is often not healthy. The Bills did not seem like they would re-sign him, so the Rams could have waited a year and signed him as a free-agent. The Rams essential gave up a 2nd round pick to have him a year early.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sun, 08/13/2017 - 10:44am

That's an oversimplification. If Watkins had had a great year in Buffalo the Bills might have resigned or franchised him. Even if it hadn't been the case, there's hardly any guarantee he would have chosen the Rams over other suitors in FA. Meanwhile, there's no guarantee he will be accept the Rams' extension offer, either, although I imagine the player was amenable or they wouldn't have made the trade.

by peepshowmopguy :: Mon, 08/14/2017 - 3:01am

I'm only a little serious when I say that I'm afraid Kam Chancellor might break Sammy Watkins in half. Maybe a little more than a little.