Bills trade Watkins to Rams; get Matthews from Eagles

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 12, 2017

Woods said Watkins is "a big, big, big-time receiver", while the gregarious Robey-Coleman sees him as the kind of difference-maker the Rams have lacked since the heyday of "The Greatest Show on Turf" when they were located in St. Louis. That deal sent cornerback Ronald Darby to Philadelphia in exchange for Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick.

If that's the case - and he looked healthy Thursday catching five passes in the Bills' preseason opener against the Vikings - the Rams may finally have a legit No. 1 wide receiver.

So let's talk about Watkins and Matthews. There's a bit of irony to all of this: After the Bills sacrificed picks to draft Watkins in 2014, the team is now adding picks by trading him in 2017.

Watkins is a 24-year-old former fourth-overall pick who brings an element of speed, athletic ability and production the Rams haven't had in years.

Matthews has 225 receptions out of 349 targets. He's one of only seven receivers in National Football League history to post 225 receptions, 2,500 yards and at least 19 touchdowns before his fourth season. He beat Sean Smith over the top for a 48-yard catch, tip-toed the sidelines for a third-down conversion, caught a 28-yard touchdown over his back shoulder, outmuscled Ron Parker to haul in another deep ball in double coverage and leapt over Smith for a 21-yard touchdown that stunned the opposing crowd. And Matthews is a very good receiver. For Taylor, I really don't feel there is too much of a drop off as most would think. Getting more from the passing game is vital. Jordan Matthews played 58 percent of his snaps in the slot, which is also where most of his production came from (84 targets, 54 receptions, 604 yards, and 2 touchdowns).

Clearly, the Bills are collecting assets to use in their pursuit of a franchise QB, the type of player they haven't seen since Jim Kelly hung up the cleats. The Bills have basically overhauled their wide receiving corps in attempt to be more productive in this area.

The team is replacing Kenny Britt, who was the first Rams receiver to cross the 1,000 yard mark (by two yards), since Torry Holt in 2007.

Sitting at the bottom of nearly every offensive category had resulted in a 4-12 record and left rookie quarterback Jared Goff battered and bruised. And in talking to Rams personnel, they don't view this as a one-year pickup but rather a chance to add a young, dynamic talent they hope is a big part of their future. The staff and its offensive strategies (boy, were they offensive!) reduced ballhog Todd Gurley to a three-yards-per carry pedestrian and used greyhound Tavon Austin for nothing more than swing passes and reverses. He finished second on the Rams in rushing yards a year ago (albeit with only 149 yards on the season) and third in receiving yards with only 509.

To me, the big victor here is Gurley.

Watkins is reunited with former Bills wideout Robert Woods in Los Angeles and is expected to fill the team's top receiver role.

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