Saturday, 19 August, 2017

Bills trade Watkins and Darby, acquire Jordan Matthews, EJ Gaines

Sammy Watkins Getty Images Tom Szczerbowski Getty Images
Vera Richards | 12 August, 2017, 00:27

Watkins' absence will give also potentially allow rookie Zay Jones to step up and claim the first spot on the team's depth chart at receiver far earlier than anyone expected him to.

In the other trade, the Bills are acquiring WR Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for CB Ronald Darby.

In the shadow of news that Ezekiel Elliott had been suspended, the Buffalo Bills pulled off two stunning trades on Friday.

The deals come just a day after the Bills had their first preseason game of the year, a loss to the Vikings. Gaines and a second rounder. He won a starting job in 2015 but then was injured before the season started.

Gaines was expected to be a role player in the secondary for the Rams, likely playing behind Trumaine Johnson, Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman. He caught 28 passes for 430 yards and two scores in his injury shortened season a year ago. When he is healthy he is a threat to be reckoned with. Last season Watkins missed half of the season due to injury which limited his production. Last season, he played in 11 games but was slowed by several injuries.

Matthews, like Watkins, is eligible for unrestricted free agency after this year.

The Bills still have playoff hopes, and these acquisitions aren't a step back. In three seasons with the Eagles Matthews compiled 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The three picks leave Buffalo's front office with enormous flexibility entering the 2018 draft next spring. Darby has started 29 games in two years with the Bills. Watkins, whom the Bills paid a steep price to draft No. 4 overall in 2014, is gone with one year remaining on his original rookie contract.

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