Peter King's "Monday Morning QB" column has long been required reading for NFL fans.
This week's edition is of particular interest for those who follow the Buffalo Bills. In it, King interviewed Bills General Manager Brandon Beane following the team's pair of blockbuster trades last week.
The interview provides some insight into why Beane felt comfortable in dealing Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams and Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles.
"If this was baseball, we’d probably have kept Sammy, because we wouldn’t have had the cap to worry about," Beane told King. "But every decision you make in football, with the cap, is a calculated risk. We had four inquiries for Sammy, and three offers, and got to a point where the Rams were willing to give a high pick, and we thought it was the best thing for us."
Beane points out that trades like the Bills made Friday are rare – King references just three similar trades over the last six years.
Buffalo got back wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a third-round draft pick for Darby as well as cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second-round pick for Watkins.
"Everyone would say Darby is a better corner than Gaines, and Watkins is a better wideout than Matthews," King wrote. "I don’t worry about the Darby deal for Buffalo, because he hadn’t bought into the new administration of Beane and head coach Sean McDermott, and because he wasn’t a great scheme fit for McDermott’s zone coverage. Buffalo did get a gutty, durable (Matthews played 46 of 48 games in three NFL seasons) possession receiver who will take Watkins’ spot in the Bills’ offense.
"The Watkins deal could hurt in the long run, for two reasons. He’s healthy this year after being plagued by a nagging foot injury. And the veterans on the Bills loved him, and won’t be happy with this deal. I can’t imagine LeSean McCoy singing kumbaya over this trade for the future. He wants to win now."
King, though, points out why the deal works for the Bills in the long term.
"The reality of this situation, though, is that the Bills are not going to win now, even if Darby and Watkins had been playing great," he wrote. "Playing for 2018 is smarter. And Buffalo also had to worry about Watkins and the cap. Because the team didn’t exercise the fifth-year option for Watkins, ensuring that he’d be a free agent after this season, Beane would have had to try to sign Watkins late this season (when the team has just $8.1 million remaining under the cap) or likely face franchising him next spring. So they risked Watkins playing great this year and looking dumb for letting him go … or trading him now for real value. A pick around number 40 or 45 in 2018 appealed more to Beane."
With six picks in the first three rounds, Beane told King he knows the pressure will fall directly on him.
"The onus is on me and my staff," the Bills' GM said. "We have to draft well. We’ve taken the first step – accumulating high picks."