Bills trade Watkins to Rams; get Matthews from Ea­gles

North Bay Nugget - - SPORTS - JOHN WAWROW

OR­CHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buf­falo Bills shook up their ros­ter with two sep­a­rate block­buster trades Fri­day, deal­ing start­ing re­ceiver Sammy Watkins to the Los An­ge­les Rams and ac­quir­ing re­ceiver Jor­dan Matthews from Phil­a­del­phia in ex­change for cor­ner­back Ron­ald Darby.

The Bills ac­quired cor­ner­back E.J. Gaines from the Rams.

Buf­falo also con­tin­ued stock­pil­ing 2018 draft picks by get­ting a sec­ond-round se­lec­tion from Los An­ge­les and a third-rounder from the Ea­gles. The Bills dealt a six­thround pick to the Rams as part of the Watkins trade.

The moves were made day af­ter Buf­falo opened its pre­sea­son with a 17-10 loss to Min­nesota. The shakeup con­tin­ues an off-sea­son over­haul un­der new coach Sean McDer­mott and GM Bran­don Beane.

Watkins’ fu­ture in Buf­falo was al­ready in ques­tion af­ter the Bills in May de­clined to pick up his fifth-year op­tion. He is en­ter­ing the fi­nal year of his deal. Matthews is also en­ter­ing the fi­nal sea­son of his con­tract, so the Ea­gles also faced the pos­si­bil­ity of los­ing him in free agency.

Gaines was valu­able de­fen­sive back in the Rams’ ro­ta­tion. He won a start­ing job in 2015 but then got hurt be­fore the sea­son started. He be­came ex­pend­able af­ter the Rams ac­quired Kayvon Web­ster this off-sea­son, who is pegged to start op­po­site Tru­maine John­son.

The Rams need play­mak­ers for an of­fence that fin­ished last in the NFL over the past two sea­sons. Watkins can be that type of dy­namic threat when healthy.

Watkins had been the Bills starter since Buf­falo traded up five spots in the 2014 draft to se­lect him with the No. 4 pick. He has 153 catches for 2,459 yards and 17 touch­downs in three sea­sons, but topped 1,000 yards just once, in 2015.

He’s been ham­pered by an as­sort­ment of in­juries and lim­ited to play­ing just eight games last year af­ter hav­ing surgery to re­pair a bro­ken left foot. Watkins re­quired a sec­ond op­er­a­tion in Jan­uary af­ter ag­gra­vat­ing the in­jury last sea­son.

In Los An­ge­les, Watkins is re­united with for­mer Bills starter Robert Woods, who signed with the Rams in free agency af­ter four sea­sons in Buf­falo.

The Bills con­tinue re­vamp­ing their re­ceiver group, with Matthews’ ac­qui­si­tion com­ing four days af­ter Buf­falo signed vet­eran free agent An­quan Boldin.

Matthews had been Phil­a­del­phia’s most pro­duc­tive re­ceiver, av­er­ag­ing 75 catches, 891 re­ceiv­ing yards and six touch­downs in his first three sea­sons. But the Ea­gles signed free-agent re­ceivers Al­shon Jef­fery and Tor­rey Smith in the off-sea­son, drafted Mack Hollins and Shel­ton Gib­son and have been pleased with 2015 first-round pick Nel­son Agholor’s im­prove­ment.

Darby started 29 games in his first two sea­sons in Buf­falo. He was a sec­ond-round pick (50th over­all) in the 2015 draft.

AP

Buf­falo traded wide re­ceiver Sammy Watkins to Los An­ge­les on Fri­day.

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