LeSean McCoy knows what Sammy Watkins is going through.
The Buffalo Bills' running back was blindsided by his trade to the team two years ago. So when the shocking news broke that the Bills had dealt Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams, McCoy's reaction was understandable.
"I've been there," he said Friday after practice. "It's a business. He has to understand that. I can understand the type of way he feels right now, getting traded for a guy that he's probably better than. So I understand. But he'll be all right.
"He’ll go over and have a pretty good year and then in a year or two, you won’t even talk about it. That’s how it works."
That might be the case, but for now, the trade is the talk of the town.
"Pretty shocking" is how center Eric Wood described the deal. "It stinks, but it’s part of the business and I trust the direction of the team."
"It’s just the nature of this business," quarterback Tyrod Taylor added. "You can never predict things."
"I’ve been around long enough to know that the only constant thing is change," said defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "Nothing totally shocks me anymore, but I was a little bit surprised this morning."
McCoy has grown close to Watkins over the past two years, serving as a mentor to the young receiver.
"Sammy's one of them guys where, he's been like a superstar his whole life," McCoy said. "He hasn't had a real older mentor that has done more than him that can really give him advice. It's one thing to take advice from older guys that he's probably better than or done more than. But a guy that can really talk about success on the field and off the field, and listen to ... that's something we've been developing even in my short period of time here."
Listening to McCoy, he sounded very much like he expected Watkins to be with the Bills in 2017.
"He looked good," the running back said. "He looked mentally ready and physcially healthy. I'm sure he's hurt."
Asked whether the move will weaken the Buffalo offense, McCoy chose his words carefully.
"Don't know," he said. "The good thing about that is that's past my pay grade. Guys make the decisions for our team. As players, coaches, we just coach and we play, that's how it works."
While Watkins wasn't traded straight up for Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews – who was acquired in a separate deal for cornerback Ronald Darby – it's natural to compare the two players.
"Obviously it's a difference with the two," McCoy said. "So we'll see how they use Jordan. It's hard to tell right now. The only thing we can go off is the trade and the player's potential. If you compare the two, it's an obvious grade who's better, but you don't know how things will play out."
McCoy was a teammate of Matthews during the 2014 season – Matthews' first in the NFL.
"Jordan's a hard worker," McCoy said. "You know, he's a good kid. You can tell he was brought up and raised the right way. He's a guy that loves the game of football. He's going to put everything that he has on the line. We had a short period of time together. Just one year. And he was a rookie. I'm sure he's probably grown and developed himself. He's a pretty tough wide receiver. But he's a good person."
Matthews now has a little less than a month to get up to speed with a new offense. That process, which will continue for the whole team, should keep guys on track, according to McCoy.
"It's such an early process for this season," he said. "Guys are still trying to learn the playbook, guys are trying to make the team. We're trying to figure out who's going to start. ... The good thing is right now, it's a major situation, the trade, but we have so much more things to worry about. We have a long season. We can't do anything about it now. We've just got to move on with what we have and get it going."
The Bills held a short practice Friday at their Orchard Park headquarters. They'll take Saturday off before returning to training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford on Sunday. The short break should allow the team to digest the moves.
"We’re sad to see Sammy go, but we were pretty effective on offense without him last year at times," Wood said. "We’re adding a player in Jordan Matthews and hopefully he can come in and fill that void."