PITTSFORD -- Quarterback to quarterback, Jim Kelly can only imagine how Tyrod Taylor must have felt when he learned the Buffalo Bills had traded away Sammy Watkins.
"It'd be like me losing Andre Reed," the Bills' Hall-of-Famer said Sunday while making his first visit of the summer to the Bills' training camp at St. John Fisher College. "That was my No. 1 receiver, that's his No. 1. It's not easy, but you know what? You've got to live with it. You understand why they did it, and you have to go with it.
"I mean, that's your job. You have to lead the team down the field no matter who's in the huddle, so hopefully (wide receiver Jordan) Matthews (whom the Bills acquired in a separate trade) comes in and does what we all hope he will do and, hopefully, (with) what (the other teams have) given up (in draft choices), we'll be able to be build something for the next three to five years."
Kelly said he was initially surprised to hear the Bills had traded Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams Friday for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second-round pick. But the more he thought about it, and the team dealing cornerback Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles for Matthews and a third-rounder on the same day, the more he saw the long-term benefits for the organization.
"I don't know whether it was because they had a feeling they might not be able to sign (Watkins) next year, but when you've got two firsts, two seconds and two thirds for next year, there's a lot of things you can do with that whether it's players, whether it's trades," Kelly said. "It gives you room to really have something on your plate for next year."
The quarterback who led the Bills to four straight Super Bowls believes that Terry and Kim Pegula are doing the right thing by empowering new coach Sean McDermott and new General Manager Brandon Beane to make dramatic moves with an eye toward the future.
"We, as players, like to see ownership like the Pegulas doing what they're doing," Kelly said. "Ownership's going to be here for awhile, so they have patience. But you just hope some of the fans do and the thing is, I'm a former player, you want to win, you want to win now. I get it, I understand that.
"It's not always that way with all fans, but the ones that really do get it understand it, that know the game of football, that sometimes things take a little longer. Never in million years any of us expected 17 years to be able to not even see a January game. So you've just got to keep your hopes, stay on the wagon and, hopefully, it's sooner than later."