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Bills trade Sammy Watkins to Rams, acquire Matthews

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The Buffalo Bills dialed up a pair of trades on Friday morning that comprehensively reorganize their wideout room -- among others.

The team announced that Sammy Watkins has been shipped to the Los Angeles Rams -- along with a 2018 sixth-round pick -- in exchange for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a 2018 second-rounder.

In a corresponding swap, the Bills acquired Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-rounder from the Eagles for starting-level cornerback Ronald Darby.

"These aren't easy decisions," Bills general manager Brandon Beane told reporters Friday. "I laid both trades out for [owner] Terry Pegula and [coach] Sean McDermott last night. This was absolutely a we decision."

As for how the Bills pulled off two trades in near-simultaneous fashion, Beane said it just sort of happened that way -- the Rams became very interested in Watkins and the Eagles became serious in trying to acquire Darby. Beane wasn't "actively shopping" either player, but said he had been fielding calls on Watkins since he took over as GM in May.

It's a wild flurry of action that alters how Buffalo, Philadelphia and Los Angeles will attack opponents through the air come September.

For Watkins, it marks a decisive career shift away from Buffalo, a team that tried to make it work with the player they traded up for in the first round of the 2014 draft. The former Clemson star battled injuries with the Bills, but showed moments of fascinating playmaking ability.

Coming off a down campaign, Watkins will reunite in Los Angeles with former Bills wideout Robert Woods, while sliding in right away as a bona fide No. 1 target for coach Sean McVay.

The move is a glorious win for Rams passer Jared Goff, who is under pressure to make quick progress under center after a rookie campaign that saw him sputter over seven late-season starts. If Watkins can stay healthy, this is a player who posted 2,000-plus yards and 15 touchdowns over his first two NFL seasons.

Watkins is in the final year of his pact after the Bills failed to pick up his option, but look for the Rams to extend -- or ultimately tag -- a player they considered drafting back in 2014. Speaking of the draft, the Bills now own Kansas City's 2018 first-rounder along with the second- and third-round selections picked up Friday.

In Buffalo, Matthews also steps in as the logical No. 1 target for Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The versatile pass-catcher was whispered about for weeks as trade bait, but Matthews -- also in the final year of his rookie deal -- came surprisingly cheap with Philly also gifting the Bills a third-rounder.

Before Eagles fans go nuts, this is a team -- stocked with veteran wideouts -- that needed help on defense. Landing Darby is a boon on that front, but the move puts pressure on Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith to lift up quarterback Carson Wentz come September.

It's a trade that will be eyeballed all season long for hints about who came out on top.

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