Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 May 2014

Bills Trade Steve Johnson to 49ers

The 49ers needed another wide receiver so they weren't stuck with someone like Quinton Patton on the field all the time, and the Bills apparently feel that they have too many wide receivers now that they drafted Sammy Watkins, so Steve Johnson is off to the 49ers for a conditional 2015 fourth-round pick which could become a third.

Most similar WR to Steve Johnson 2011-2013 by Football Outsiders sim scores:

Vance Johnson 1988-1990
Reggie Langhorne 1988-1990
Muhsin Muhammad 1999-2001
Dwayne Bowe 2007-2009
Earnest Gray 1982-1984
Kevin Walter 2007-2009
Bert Emmanuel 1996-1998
O.J. McDuffie 1997-1999

Interestingly, Johnson's two-year comps were much better the following season than the three-year comps. To two-year comp to Johnson in 2012-2013 is Cris Carter 1991-1992, who doesn't come out as a three-year comp because he started just five games in 1990, his first year in Minnesota.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 09 May 2014

27 comments, Last at 15 May 2014, 11:12pm by tuluse


by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 05/09/2014 - 11:29pm

Nothing, no one has anything to say?

Hello? Anyone there?

by tuluse :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 12:13am

Seems like a great deal for the 9ers. Seems like the Bills are continuing to be the Bills.

by anotherpatsfan :: Sun, 05/11/2014 - 3:10pm

Why is it great for the 49ers to get another possession receiver, with an iffy catch rate? Don't know that he has a ton of upside there or moves the needle significantly for that offense. Probably won't do as well against the Seahawks as he has against the Pats, for example.

by tuluse :: Sun, 05/11/2014 - 3:17pm

He has triple the number of years with 1000+ yards of every receiver on the 49ers combined not named Anquan Boldin.

by anotherpatsfan :: Sun, 05/11/2014 - 3:31pm

So he was the shiniest turd in the Bill's awesome passing game. Sweet. DVOA rank 77-57-51 last 3 years. He is an average guy, and probably 4th WR-TE option in 49ers group of receivers.

by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 05/11/2014 - 4:07pm

Because he had such great qbs throwing him the ball in Buffalo didn't he?

by anotherpatsfan :: Sun, 05/11/2014 - 6:33pm

Certainly he did not have a guy capable of regularly walking across water and performing other miracles like he does now. He can help the 9ers. He will likely gain 10-ish yards per catch. Having another target may help the other guys get open. From a financial perspective in today's NFL the move seems to make sense. IMO from a football perspective it does not mean the fans should make Super Bowl reservations. To someone relatively indifferent to the 9ers, it is just not that big a story (as if they had nabbed D.Jackson for example...)

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 05/12/2014 - 9:47am

Have you seen him play at all? He's a good player.

Who, me?

by Led :: Mon, 05/12/2014 - 11:16am

Stevie excels against press man coverage (gave Revis more trouble than any other receiver), which might be relevant when playing the Seahawks at least twice a year.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 05/12/2014 - 11:36am

He had 8 catches for 115 yards and a score against Seattle in 2012. I didn't see the game though and it looks like a horror show for the Bills in general, there every chance it was all garbage time production.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 05/12/2014 - 3:29pm

He forced Sherman into arguably the worst game of his career. These were the completions Johnson got against him.

4:52-1st 1st-and-10 R.Fitzpatrick pass short right to St.Johnson pushed ob at BUF 46 for 7 yards.
1:24-1st 1st-and-10 R.Fitzpatrick pass short left to St.Johnson to SEA 14 for 17 yards.
1:16-2nd 3rd-and-7 R.Fitzpatrick pass deep left to St.Johnson for 20 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
14:13-3rd 3rd-and-20 R.Fitzpatrick pass deep middle to St.Johnson to BUF 39 for 25 yards.

What I don't understand is why he can play so well against Revis and Sherman but not as well against lesser corners.

by Led :: Tue, 05/13/2014 - 9:47am

I'd guess because Sherman and Revis single cover him while he tends to get doubled or have coverage rolled to him against other teams. Not like the Bills historically have had other great WRs on the other side.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 05/15/2014 - 9:11pm
by tuluse :: Thu, 05/15/2014 - 11:12pm

Interesting. This is similar to what the Bengals did with Chad Johnson (he ran almost any route he wanted to).

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 05/12/2014 - 2:20pm

Agree, I think you're selling him short if you're judging him by DVOA alone (which overly punishes receivers who play with crappy quarterbacks).

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 05/12/2014 - 2:59pm

And crappy linemen, crappy tight ends and other crappy receivers.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 05/13/2014 - 11:53am

And crappy OCs, crappy HCs and crappy GMs

Who, me?

by buzzorhowl :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 12:09am

What in the hell is going on in Buffalo. I'm not remotely a fan of this team and I am still kind of freaking out about their behavior over the last couple days.

by herewegobrownie... :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 12:27pm

Actually, letting the Browns walk away without Watkins (especially since the two teams are practically division rivals, having played most every year) is looking like a pretty bright move now, and it may be compounded by how the Browns supposedly went into the draft fully aware of the Gordon situation.

by Guest789 :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 2:40am

I... I don't... the Bills.

The rich get richer I guess.


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by Sifter :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 5:02am

I guess the thing that interested me is that it's NEXT years 4th/3rd. Did the 49ers think that 7 picks in the first 4 rounds this year was about right and wouldn't part with one? They're already using this years picks to injured guys who'll be ready for next year...

by Sixknots :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 11:50am

Can't remember ever watching a Bills' game. How is Johnson with contact?

by jacobk :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 2:27pm

Johnson makes pretty good money, doesn't he? What kind of impact will he have on the 49ers' cap (and Kaep) situation?

by dank067 :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 2:56pm

The Bills had to assume the rest of the cap charge from Johnson's signing bonus upon trading him, and a quick glance at over the cap seems to show that there is no guaranteed money left on his contract. So his SF cap charge this season is an awfully cheap $3.925 mil, then rises to just about $6 mil for 2015 and 16, but again, no dead money if they don't decide he's worth that much. What a good deal for SF all around, maybe it doesn't work out but very little risk. Kind of sucks for Johnson though because he totally lost the protection against getting cut that his prorated bonus money gave him.

Also, with this trade, Stevie Johnson, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Mark Anderson are counting over $20 mil on Buffalo's cap this year.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 11:21pm

And if he has a really good year then the niners could trade him. This is moot though because he won't have a great year statistically because Jim Harbaugh doesn't believe in either throwing the ball or 3WR sets.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 4:18pm

Add this to the real cost of the Watkins trade: two firsts plus Stevie Johnson. Oh, and the cap hit...

Btw, the Browns must be very happy with this trade as well.

Who, me?

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 05/12/2014 - 11:44am

Totally unsurprising in the wake of trading for Williams and drafting Watkins. I guess this make Goodwin the slot guy this year.