The Buffalo Bills have traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins and a sixth-round pick in next year’s draft to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a 2018 second-round pick, the Bills announced Friday.
Also Friday, the Bills acquired wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick from the Philadelphia Eagles for cornerback Ronald Darby.
The Bills’ decision to trade their top receiver and top cornerback for future draft picks signals that first-year general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott view the team as a long-term rebuilding project.
Buffalo now owns two selections in the first, second and third rounds of the 2018 draft. The Bills previously acquired the Kansas City Chiefs’ first-round pick when they traded down during the 2017 draft to select cornerback Tre’Davious White at No. 27.
Watkins’ departure strips quarterback Tyrod Taylor of his top passing target this season. Taylor took a $10 million pay cut during the offseason to remain with the Bills, but his future with the team remains in doubt. The Bills can release Taylor before paying him a $6 million roster bonus in March and save most of his $18 million cap number in 2018, the final year of his contract.
“It doesn’t say anything,” said Beane about what the trade means for Taylor. “Everybody’s forgetting? Anquan [Boldin]?last week. This is not a throw-in-the-towel thing at all. Somebody mentioned that somebody said that out there, and honestly, that’s annoying to me. You don’t know me if you think I’m throwing in the towel. When I go out there and play pingpong, whatever I’m doing, I’m not throwing in the towel. If we’re throwing in the towel, we’re not trying to get a starting receiver back.
“To your question on Tyrod, it’s nothing. We got Anquan, who we added. I told you, I honestly believe he’s a Hall of Famer. He still can play in this league. Jordan Matthews is a starting receiver. If you look at his numbers and what he’s done, those aren’t anything to laugh at. So Tyrod will get every opportunity to lead this team, and we’re all rooting for him. It’s our best interest.”
Darby, who finished second in voting for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015, had two years remaining on his contract. White now projects as the Bills’ top cornerback this season with Gaines likely to start opposite him.
The Rams have been searching all year for an outside vertical threat to complement new coach Sean McVay’s offense and finally have that player in Watkins, who…