If you see Brandon Beane on Wednesday, wish him a happy anniversary.
The Buffalo Bills’ general manager has been on the job for exactly a year. Plenty has changed in the last 365 days with Beane in charge. Just 27 players (not including injured center Eric Wood) on the team's current roster were with the team a year ago. Beane has swung 11 trades since taking over as general manager, involving players, draft picks or a combination of both.
Here is a look at the 10 biggest moves the team has made in that time:
1. Trading up for Josh Allen.
Acquiring a franchise quarterback is the biggest job of a general manager. Beane hopes he did that by making a big move up the draft board last month to acquire Allen, who has all the physical tools, but did not put up big statistics at Wyoming. The price was high, as the Bills traded the No. 12 overall pick and two second-round selections to Tampa for the No. 7 pick, but Beane believes him to be worth the price.
"Would I have liked to kept my twos? Hell yeah, but you don't want to outsmart yourself, Beane told The Buffalo News last week of the trade. "If teams had bid up and jumped me, and you don't get one, I probably wouldn't have slept from that night until now. ... It's about getting the guy."
Beane’s success or failure in Buffalo may ultimately ride on how Allen performs.
2. Trading Sammy Watkins to the L.A. Rams.
This was a “whoa” moment for the first-year GM, one that drove home the point that it truly is a new era. Watkins never had the type of career in Buffalo that was expected of him after former GM Doug Whaley traded a future first-round draft pick to move up five spots for him, but he was still the Bills’ No. 1 receiver and one of their most recognizable players. Trading him away was the first real sign of Beane’s aggressive nature.
3. Trading Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns.
The writing was on the wall for Taylor as soon as he was benched for rookie Nathan Peterman during the 2017 season. Nevertheless, it’s always significant when a quarterback is traded. Taylor led the Bills to the playoffs last year, and gave them a steady presence at the position for the past three years. To get the first pick of the third round for him was a steal by Beane, and set up …
4. Trading up for Tremaine Edmunds.
Beane never thought he would have the chance to get the Virginia Tech linebacker in the same draft as Allen. The opportunity presented itself, however, because the Bills didn’t have to trade the No. 22 overall pick to the Buccaneers in the move up for Allen. That pick, combined with the one acquired for Taylor, allowed Beane to get a franchise cornerstone for Sean McDermott’s defense last month.
"He'll have to define his career and all that, but from where we had him on our board ... it couldn't have fell any better," Beane said.
5. Trading Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
One of Beane’s biggest priorities in the last year has been cleaning up the Bills’ messy salary cap situation. That meant moving on from Dareus, a former No. 3 overall pick who checked out on the Bills almost immediately after signing a contract extension worth up to $100 million over six years in 2015. He was a toxic presence in the locker room who set a poor example for the players around him and had to go. Dareus will still count $14.2 million against the Bills’ cap in 2018, but after that will be off the books.
6. Trading Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Another money move. Trading Glenn leaves behind a $9.6 million cap hit, but the Bills have a replacement at left tackle in Dion Dawkins. The move also got the Bills closer to the top 10, where they needed to be for a quarterback, since it involved a swap of first-round draft picks, with the Bills getting No. 12 and sending No. 21 to the Bengals. Glenn is another player who got paid and then set it to cruise control.
7. Trading Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles.
On its own, this would have been a huge deal, but it was overshadowed by Watkins being traded on the same day. The Bills thought they were getting a receiver who could help them in Jordan Matthews along with a third-round draft pick for Darby, but it didn’t work out that way. Matthews got hurt 15 minutes into his first practice with the team, then struggled with other injuries the rest of the year and never made an impact. The third-round pick also ended up being late after the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Darby was a starter in the Philadelphia secondary, so the jury is still out on whether this was a good move.
8. Signing Star Lotulelei in free agency.
The Bills’ run defense was weak in 2018. There was no obvious replacement on the roster after Dareus was traded. Beane hopes he solved both of those issues by signing a player he’s familiar with in Lotulelei, who was a first-round draft pick of the Panthers in 2013.
9. Signing Eric Wood to a contract extension before the 2017 season.
This move didn’t work out, although Beane couldn’t have known Wood would suffer a career-ending neck injury during the 2017 season. Although the center remains on the Bills’ active roster, he’s not expected to play again. He will count $8.225 million against the salary cap in 2018 if he’s released after June 1. It's fair to question why Wood was a candidate for an extension in the first place. He was set to enter the final year of his contract in 2017, and the Bills held negotiating power because they still have Ryan Groy on the roster as a capable replacement. They could have let Wood play out the last year of his deal and then tried to re-sign him.
Tie-10. Signing Vontae Davis in free agency.
The Bills elected not to re-sign E.J. Gaines, instead choosing to replace him in the starting lineup with Davis, a former Pro Bowler who played in just five games last season for the Colts because of a groin injury. He'll have to prove he can stay healthy. Comparing Davis’ performance against that of Gaines – who signed with Cleveland for modest money – will be interesting in 2018.
Tie-10. Trading third- and seventh-round draft picks to Carolina for receiver Kelvin Benjamin. When the Bills surprisingly found themselves in the middle of a playoff race last season, Beane made a move to help the offense by acquiring Benjamin from the Panthers. The trade didn't have much of an impact on the Buffalo offense, as Benjamin was hurt in his second game with the team and played at less than 100 percent the rest of the season. Entering a contract year and with no other proven receivers on the roster, a lot is riding on how Benjamin performs in 2018.