While I am not fully expecting any of these trades to actually materialize, the below options are within the realm of possibility. I will also preface these trade scenarios with the point that Brandon Beane has not typically been the type to trade away future draft capital for players, outside of trading within the draft itself. The scenarios where the Bills trade future draft picks seem less possible to me. However, if Beane believes the roster is now long on depth and talent, he may be more willing to make that type of move.
1st Down – “Trade a Future Draft Pick for a Starting Caliber Edge Rusher”
Trent Murphy has looked solid thus far during the preseason, and Shaq Lawson continues to make plays against the run, but the Bills are still lacking top end talent from a pass rushing perspective. I would not mind seeing the Bills make a play for another above-average to borderline top-end pass rusher before the season commences.
Jerry Hughes’ contract extension aside, there is a good chance that after this season the Bills could find themselves severely lacking at the position, especially given the fact that Shaq Lawson is likely gone in 2020. Even if Trent Murphy sheds his “injury prone” label and has a productive season, it leaves the Bills with promising, but developmental, rookie Darryl Johnson and the likes of Mike Love or Eddie Yarbrough (if either makes the team) as the next guys up on the depth chart.
Top-end edge rushers are typically not the types of players that get traded, but in recent memory, we have seen players like Dee Ford and Frank Clark both get dealt. If the Bills find themselves find a willing partner and feel the price is right for a high caliber player, it would not totally shock me to see them make a bold move prior to the season opener.
2nd Down – “Trade Isaiah McKenzie for a GOOD Punter”
I will start by saying that I believe Isaiah McKenzie is a very good football player and has thus far had an excellent preseason. For the readers who also listen to Steve Mathes and me on “The Bills Guys” podcast, we are big fans of McKenzie on our show. The Bills might find themselves in a difficult position on cut-down day.
By no means has Ray-Ray McCloud had a bad preseason, but it seems to me that the shine on McKenzie’s play is slightly brighter. It appears that both players are potentially vying for one roster spot as Cole Beasley’s backup in the slot. For the Bills to keep both players under team control, McKenzie would likely need to earn a spot on the 53 man roster, followed by McCloud being sent to the practice squad. There is no guarantee that McCloud would even make it to the practice squad, so the Bills could consider further developing his talents by giving him a spot on the 53 man roster.
Simultaneously, the Bills could address the deficiency at the punter position, as neither Cory Carter nor Corey Bojorquez is truly raising his game thus far in the preseason. The Bills will not get much return by trading McKenzie, but a reliable punter may be more important to them at this stage in the preseason than the redundant skillsets of McKenzie and McCloud. In all likelihood, the Bills can wait for other camp battles across the league to shake out if they want to improve the position, but it’s still fun to speculate the always humorous trade possibilities involving a punter.
3rd Down – “Trade LeSean McCoy for a Legitimate Swing Tackle”
On the most recent episode of “The Bills Guys,” Steve Mathes and I discussed the value of LeSean McCoy in a trade right now. Ultimately, there is a very small window where McCoy’s value could actually increase from where it is right now. In my opinion, the only way McCoy’s value increases is if the Bills showcase him heavily early in the season and he shows the springiness that has made him one of the best backs in the NFL over the past decade.
For this outcome to play itself out, it would also mean the Bills aren’t utilizing Frank Gore or Devin Singletary to the extent we all expect this season. For those reasons, the Bills could explore trading McCoy before the season starts while he is still in full health.
Given the rash of injuries have experienced on the offensive line, and with Cody Ford looking better suited to play guard this early in his career, it could be wise for the Bills to make a move for a viable swing tackle to take some heat off of Ford, Nsekhe, and the camp fodder at the bottom of the Bills offensive tackle depth chart. Brandon Beane has not been shy to trade away “star” players in the past as the season approaches (see Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby).
Fans will likely feel that the return for any trade of McCoy won’t return good value, and I don’t disagree, but getting an above average player that can play both tackle positions might just be worth it to me right now.
4th Down – “Trade a Future Draft Pick for a Starting Caliber Offensive Tackle”
Albeit a similar take to 3rd down, 4th down takes this potential trade option to the next level. The Bills would trade for a legitimate starting NFL tackle by dealing a day 2 pick to a team that is truly rebuilding. This trade scenario is the least likely to play out for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the Bills are not likely to trade future draft picks to begin with, especially a 2nd or 3rd rounder. Secondly, even a team that might be interested in attaining future draft capital would not likely trade a “building block” type of player from their offensive line. With all of that said, perhaps the Bills can find some middle ground, and make a play for a top 15-20ish right tackle if the price is right.
I know there will be plenty of disagreement with this type of trade, but I truly believe that Cody Ford’s best future in the NFL is playing on the interior of the offensive line. It also gives the Bills much needed security should something happen to both Dion Dawkins and Ty Nsekhe.