Here’s how exciting the NFL trade deadline usually is: Bills receiver Jordan Matthews was unaware that it is Tuesday.
Both here in Buffalo, and throughout the league, however, there has been an unusual amount of activity in the last few days. Starting with the Bills shipping Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville on Friday, and continuing with a pair of trades Monday, NFL GMs are dressing up like Wild Bill Hickok just in time for Halloween.
Since taking over in May, Brandon Beane has swung six trades. Under his direction, the team has made quick work in reshaping its roster in coach Sean McDermott’s image, most recently by sending Dareus to Jacksonville on Friday for a conditional sixth-round draft choice.
Beane’s willingness to pull the trigger on a deal begs the question: What might happen Tuesday?
“Brandon and his staff are on top of it,” McDermott said Monday, as the Bills began preparations for Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets. “Brandon and I speak sometimes hourly. … I depend on him to keep me up to date on what’s going on or what’s not going on. I know he looks at everything in terms of trying to improve our roster.”
At 5-2, the Bills find themselves in a situation few expected – the thick of the playoff race. It that win-loss total was reversed, it would make sense that the Bills sell off pieces as they rebuild. If the season ended today, though, the Bills would be the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs, which means the team might instead be buyers at the deadline.
“There’s a couple different ways to look at it,” McDermott said. “I think the biggest thing right now is that we continue to focus on our vision for this football team. Obviously, we want to win, and we’ve talked about it for a long time in terms of, win now and also win later. That remains the vision, and we’re going to approach philosophically everything with that in mind.”
Because the Bills are 5-2, it’s easier for both players and fans to buy into the vision of the new front office.
“We're definitely not as talented without Marcell Dareus, with just getting a draft pick back, but I trust McDermott and Beane to make the proper decisions on what's going to be best for this football team now and in the long term,” center Eric Wood said. “Part of that is getting guys that they feel fit their scheme and their process. I'm all for it. It's always easy to be for it, too, when you're 5-2, you know?
“I’m glad I'm not the one who has to make tough decisions like that, because they can be very unpopular at times, but when you're confident in what you want to get done, you can make bold decisions like that and still sleep easy at night.”
One potential trade avenue that the Bills have explored looks to have closed Monday night when the Seattle Seahawks acquired left tackle Duane Brown from the Houston Texans. Seattle had inquired about the Bills’ Cordy Glenn earlier this season, but those talks were preliminary and did not advance very far.
There could be other suitors for Glenn, who Sunday took all 69 offensive snaps against the Oakland Raiders, the first time he’s been able to play an entire game this year. Philadelphia lost starting left tackle Jason Peters earlier this season, and have been rumored to be in the market for a replacement via trade.
The Bills and Eagles have a history, with Beane acquiring Matthews and a third-round draft pick in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby this summer.
“I've said it before: Sean and I aren’t in to just getting our guys on this team and getting rid of people who are not,” Beane said Friday after trading Dareus. “We’re honestly making every decision on what we think helps the Bills today and tomorrow.”
Traditionally, trades in the NFL have been less frequent than in other sports leagues in part because it's tough to get a player up to speed on a new scheme quickly. But veteran NFL writers have been predicting that this year's deadline could be more active, and one of the Bills' AFC East rivals showed that might be true Monday night. The New England Patriots acquired a second-round draft pick in exchange for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
If the Bills were to make an addition Tuesday, it's unlikely that player would appear in Thursday's game against the Jets. But with 10 days until the Week 10 game against New Orleans, the coaching staff would have time to get that new player ready to go.
"You roll with it. Whatever happens, happens," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Monday. "You just try to control what you can control, and everybody’s focused right now on trying to get ready for the Jets. If something else happens along the way between now and (four) o’clock tomorrow, you deal with it."
"In this business, things like that can happen. Being around it for a while, you have to deal with it when it happens."