Moving on up

Bulldog is hopeful that the Bills can close the deal for a top-five pick in the NFL Draft

March 15, 2018 - 10:45 am

Photo: Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills)

March has roared in like the lion it’s purported to be, both weather-wise here in Buffalo and football news-wise with the Buffalo Bills.

Three-year starter at quarterback? Traded to the Cleveland Browns. Franchise-caliber left tackle? Traded to the Cincinnati Bengals. Add in the trades last season of Sammy Watkins and Marcell Dareus and what you’ve got left is one player, Jerry Hughes, with a salary cap figure north of $10 million. If it wasn’t obvious already, the Bills under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane are all about clearing the decks.

Now of course all of that comes with a price. For one thing, you might not get better players to take the place of the guys you’ve moved out. At least maybe not right anyway. Then there’s the dead money on the salary cap that accompanies moving high-priced players in the NFL. Taylor, Glenn and Dareus will count for more than $30 million against the cap this year. Say what you will about the choices made, the results last season validate the moves. At least the Watkins and Dareus trades. We’ll see about Taylor and Glenn.

Forgive me, but you’ve probably reached the same conclusion as I have. It’s all part of the process.

Look, make all the process jokes you want. I’m fully on board here with everything that’s happening. Almost entirely because in the short-term, it seems that McDermott and Beane (McBeane? Is that acceptable?) are loading up for a big swing at a quarterback in this April’s draft. I seriously doubt that signing A.J. McCarron to a modest two-year contract Wednesday night does anything to change that.

The Glenn trade on Monday is the clearest indicator. The Bills gave up a very good, albeit often injured and high-priced, left tackle to move from the 21st overall pick to the 12th pick in the first round. Friday’s trade of Taylor, which netted them the first pick of round three, was another. The Taylor trade also gets you another decent pick you can either use as part of a trade up package or use to replace one of the picks you use to trade up. Either way, the more picks the better if you are planning to burn three or four picks for a shot at quarterback glory.

You can also go all the way back to last April and the Bills decision to move down and acquire what ends up being the 22nd overall pick in this year’s first round from Kansas City. Our man Sal Capaccio was there right away to tell you the plan would be to target a big-time quarterback prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft. I was plenty skeptical. I liked the quarterbacks the Bills could’ve picked in 2017 just fine, and it’s tough to know how next year’s class is going to shake out before an entire season is played. Then there’s out-maneuvering other quarterback needy teams to get in position to get the guy you like. To me, it was a lot to assume. It looked to get even harder to pull off when the Bills and the Chiefs made the playoffs, pushing both of the picks into the bottom third of the first round.

Still, here we are. There appears to be a deep class of quarterbacks available. With Monday’s trade to the 12th pick, the Bills look to be within striking distance of the top-five spots in the draft. There are a couple of teams that make sense as trade partners as the Indianapolis Colts already has Andrew Luck, and the New York Giants might be willing to ride Eli Manning into the ground and pass up the opportunity to draft his replacement.

This next trade isn’t a lead pipe lock as you still need to entice a team from the top to come down to 12 and 22. My guess right now though is that the Bills had a pretty good idea whether or not they could swing a deal for a move up to the second or third pick when they made the deal with Cincinnati to get to 12.

We’ll all see what happens next, of course. Coffee is for closers and no one wants a set of steak knives. Stalling at 12th overall would be a big letdown.

Here’s to hoping for the Cadillac Eldorado.

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