Your move, Brandon Beane

The New York Jets' trade puts pressure on Bills' general manager

Howard Simon
March 20, 2018 - 12:31 pm

Photo: Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills)

The New York Jets ruined my weekend and they’ve made me nervous. They might also have thrown a wrench in the Buffalo Bills' quarterback plan for the NFL Draft by trading up from the sixth overall pick to No. 3.

Your move, Mr. Brandon Beane.

I’m picturing two chess players staring intensely at the board. One player makes his move and hits the clock leaving the other to look at the entire board and put his hand up under his chin as he thinks about how to counter.

Give the Jets credit - the Bills' division rival hasn’t had a “franchise” quarterback since Joe Namath in the 1960’s, with all due respect to the likes of Chad Pennington, Ken O’Brien and Richard Todd. The move makes perfect sense for them. Even though the Jets have, over the years, confounded, angered and / or puzzled their fans when it comes to first round draft picks, there’s no way the Jets made this move to get Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb or anyone else who won’t be throwing the football for a living.

Offseason talk about the Bills has centered around their pursuit of a quarterback. Many believed the Bills had stock piled draft picks so they could attempt a move into the top-10, or perhaps the top-five in an effort to select a player they hope will turn out to be a franchise quarterback. That talk kicked up a notch when Beane went from 21 to 12 with the first of his two Round 1 picks as a result of the Cordy Glenn trade.

I don’t think the Jets were caught off guard by that. In fact, reports out of New York claim the Jets started working on a plan to go north in the draft order back in January at the Senior Bowl. The Bills' jump may have just created more urgency for the Jets to pull the trigger on their deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

When it came to projecting the draft and figuring the Bills chances to get a quarterback with their first pick, we always talked about the possibility of having to get ahead of the Jets. That’s a lot more difficult now. The Colts at No. 3 were a prime trading partner. Even Denver at No. 5 was a possibility with the Broncos signing Case Keenum in free agency, although they might still draft a quarterback. Now, Beane and company are down to one option: the New York Giants with the second pick. The Bills reportedly have called the Cleveland Browns and inquired about the first overall selection, but I’d be stunned if the Browns dealt it away. Despite mid-to-low first round failures like Brandon Weeden, Johnny Manziel and Brady Quinn, Cleveland would be crazy not to cash in their winning ticket on the quarterback they believe to be the best in the class of 2018.

Now let's take a look at the whole board as this chess game plays out. Depending on who you talk to, there could be five, possibly six quarterbacks worthy of a first round pick this year. How many teams will want one of them on their team? I think Cleveland is a lock to take a quarterback with the first pick, but they do also have the fourth pick. The Jets are now a lock too. 

There are a number of teams who could take a quarterback, but aren’t a lock including the Giants (2nd), Broncos (5th) and Miami Dolphins (11th). Now we are up to five teams ahead of the Bills, who could select a signal caller. Then there are teams that can’t be ruled out of a trade up into the top-10 if there’s a prospect they love. The Arizona Cardinals (15th) comes to mind. What about the New Orleans Saints (27th)? It might not seem likely since they recently re-signed Drew Brees to a two-year deal, but there was a team at 27 last year that moved all the way up to 10 to get a quarterback, even though they had one. Granted, Alex Smith should not be confused with Drew Brees.

Suffice to say, the Jets move put me in panic mode. If the Bills need to jump ahead of the Jets now, they’ll have to work out a trade with the Giants. There’s potential good news there as Beane’s former boss in Carolina, Dave Gettleman, is the Giants' general manager. But Gettleman has to be willing to trade out of the second spot and, at this point, be willing to drop down 10 spots to help out his former understudy. If I was the general manager of the Giants, I would stay put and draft the successor to Eli Manning, but some believe the Giants will hold off on their quarterback of the future and use that pick to bring in a stud / impact player like a Chubb or Barkley. If that is their thinking, Beane has his opening for a deal.

Here is where it could get tricky though. If the Giants think dropping down to 12 would be too far, Beane might have to make another move to set up a trade with Big Blue. Maybe he can convince the Colts (6th) or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7th) to come down to 12 and pick up more assets. Then Beane can call the Giants and offer whatever package it takes to move up to two.

I’ll bet you’re thinking there’s no need to go crazy here and give up picks. You might believe the smart move is for Beane to stay where he is because one or more of the quarterbacks will still be on the board at 12. This is your perfect world where Beane takes care of that need and still has the remaining five selections in the top-100 that are currently in the Bills' war chest.

It isn’t a bad idea, but I want the Bills to get, if possible, the quarterback they have first on their board. In my perfect world, they get the best quarterback available. If they stay at 12 and take one there, are the Bills getting their top choice for quarterback or are they getting the third, fourth, fifth or even sixth guy based on their grades? 

The "X factor" in this is that we have no idea who Beane covets. If you believe what he said during a press conference last Friday, Beane hasn’t reached a final evaluation on any of the quarterbacks since they haven’t had much more than a 15-minute interview at the NFL Combine with these guys. When all is said and done, maybe Beane believes Lamar Jackson of Louisville or Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph are just as good, or better, than the likes of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield. If so, then the Bills aren’t in a tough spot after all. But it remains to be seen.  

For now, my pre-draft wait is filled with anxiety.

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