The Buffalo Bills have finally rid themselves of another talented player who they were wasting and not using properly. Good for them.
On Friday, the Bills traded under-utilized receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams. The 3-way deal included the Rams giving up cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second round pick (both go to Buffalo), the Bills giving up Watkins, a sixth rounder (Rams), and cornerback Ronald Darby (Eagles), and Philadelphia sending receiver Jordan Matthews to Buffalo.
So:— Kevin Patra (@kpatra) August 11, 2017
Bills get: Jordan Mathews, EJ Gains, 2nd rounder (Rams), 3rd rounder (PHI)
Eagles: Ronald Darby
Rams: Sammy Watkins, 6th (Buf)
Watkins, the fourth overall pick in 2014, had 28 catches for 430 yards and two touchdowns over eight games last season. The year prior, he had 60 catches for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns over 13 games, showing all of the potential he had as a prospect when Buffalo traded up and chose him over Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. Despite the obvious gifts he has for a franchise that rarely keeps their talented players, the Bills did not extend him a fifth-year on his rookie deal, making him a free agent after the season.
The Rams are currently paying Tavon Austin $15 million this season, and signed Robert Woods (also formerly of Buffalo) to a deal that will pay him $7 million this season. Watkins’ cap hit is $6.3 million this year, making it a total of about $28.3 million to three receivers who have yet to really make the impact any of them were expected to, other than maybe Woods, who was still vastly overpaid in the offseason.
This is now really a prove-it-or-lose-it situation for quarterback Jared Goff, the worst QB in the NFL last season. He has Watkins, Woods, Austin, Todd Gurley, Michael Thomas, and rookies Gerald Everett, Cooper Kupp. That doesn’t mean he needs to light the world on fire, but at least a slightly-below-average season by Goff under first-year head coach Sean McVay would be a major step in the right direction. It’s also interesting to see what happens to the 31-year-old McVay now that the team has gone out and made some big moves to try and improve the league’s worst offense from a year ago.
Trading for Watkins and signing Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth are the two biggest moves in that direction. But if Goff can’t efficiently get anyone the ball, it won’t matter.