How each NFL deadline trade affects playoff race
By Matt Conner
The Kelvin Benjamin deal
Trade parameters: The Carolina Panthers trade wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for third and seventh round selections in the 2017 NFL Draft.
In a trade deadline filled with out-of-the-blue moves, this one might be the cherry on top considering the identity of the team willing to give away the draft picks here. The Chiefs themselves have been involved in a couple deals with the Bills in recent months, sending them future assets in exchange for linebacker Reggie Ragland as well as the chance to move up in the 2017 NFL Draft for quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The trades with the Chiefs aren’t the only moves the Bills have made to horde a number of future draft picks in 2018 and beyond, which is why it was so shocking when they decided to turn around and raid the Carolina Panthers cupboards for a No. 1 receiver. It was, after all, just several weeks since they sent their own top-tier wideout Sammy Watkins to the L.A. Rams in a trade that netted them a second round choice in return.
The Bills, however, have corrected course a bit from their season-opening agenda of cleaning house in order to completely remake the team. Somehow despite trading away a number of significant parts and players, including Ron Darby and Marcell Dareus, the Bills are not only in the hunt for a potential playoff spot in the AFC, but they’re within striking distance of the a division title in the AFC East. If that sounds crazy, it is, but despite Tom Brady’s presence and dominance, the Bills look good and have yet to even play the Pats yet in 2017.
Despite having missed a full season due to injury and some consistency issues, the reality is that the Bills’ brass know him well (head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane both came from Carolina) and what they know most is that he’s a beast in the red zone. Tyrod Taylor could use such a large target (6-5, 240 lbs.), given that Benjamin outweighs the next biggest wideout on the roster by 30 pounds (and is taller than any of them).
Benjamin will also be in Buffalo through the 2018 season for basically $9 million for 1.5 seasons. That’s a deal most teams would take, especially one surprisingly looking at the playoffs in 2017. Fortunately, the Bills can still know they swapped one top WR for another and gained a jump from the third to the second round in the process in terms of assets gained. Bills fans have to be stoked and the Buffalo offense is suddenly a lot more playoff-ready than they were before.
By the way, the Chiefs host the Bills on the last week of November.