We know the Bills' former front office members loved their trade up for Sammy Watkins in the 2014 draft. We're less certain then-coach Doug Marrone felt the same way.
"The draft room erupted when Watkins' name was announced," The News' Tim Graham wrote in an "Inside the Draft Room" piece. "The scouts applauded. [Then-GM Doug] Whaley took a deep, satisfying breath. [President and former GM Russ] Brandon pumped his fist in victory."
But after the season, it was reported that Marrone either stormed out or simply left the room upon learning that the Bills were sending multiple first-round picks for a wide receiver. Marrone, now the Jaguars coach, cleared up his side of the argument this week on a conference call with Rams reporters ahead of Sunday's game against Watkins' new team.
"It wasn’t the player for me," Marrone said of why he disliked the move. "I love Sammy. We wanted Sammy as much as anybody. We were excited about that when the pick came through. I think what was going on was I was a little concerned about just giving up too much not knowing what our quarterback situation was.
"So, that’s the only thing that I voiced and after that, I was happy as hell to get Sammy and you go on. Not many times like that are you able to get a special player like Sammy. And that’s how I think of Sammy Watkins. I think he’s a special player."
Whaley and the Bills had just spent a first-round pick on quarterback EJ Manuel the season prior, so the front office felt some level of comfort with the quarterback situation even if Marrone didn't. Graham reported that if the Bills had stayed at ninth overall and the rest of the top-10 picks fell the same way, they likely would've selected tight end Eric Ebron, even ahead of Odell Beckham.
But Marrone was clearly uncomfortable with Manuel under center and ended up benching him for Kyle Orton four games into the season. The Bills finished 9-7 that year – their best record in a decade – but still missed the playoffs. Marrone took a $4 million opt-out in his contract and left the team after the season and the rest is history.