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Bills deserve patience after strategic moves set up huge 2018 draft haul

From ESPN - August 12, 2017

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A talented and experienced golfer, Buffalo Bills first-year general manager Brandon Beane surely knows a thing or two about when to uncork a 300-yard drive and when to keep the driver in his bag.

In the case of Friday's unexpected trades that sent Buffalo's top wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams and its top cornerback Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles, Beane is laying up off the tee in 2017 in hopes of setting up a better shot to the green in 2018.

The approach might not please Bills fans who invested their dollars into Watkins merchandise and tickets this season, nor is it necessarily fair to quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who now must prove himself this season without one of the game's most talented receivers. But unlike his predecessor Doug Whaley, the ex-Bills general manager who recklessly traded two first-round picks to move up for Watkins in 2014, Beane is being strategic and deserves the patience of Buffalo's fan base.

Consider the Bills' current stash of draft selections in 2018:

First round: Own selection, Kansas City Chiefs' selection.

Second round: Own selection, Los Angeles Rams' selection.

Third round: Own selection, Philadelphia Eagles' selection.

Fourth round: Own selection.

Fifth round: Own selection.

Sixth round: Sent to the Rams as part of Friday's deal.

Seventh round: Sent to the Green Bay Packers in August 2016 for linebacker Lerentee McCray.

Buffalo could add to its haul of 2018 draft selections by working the NFL's compensatory pick system to its advantage. By releasing at least three of their qualifying unrestricted free-agent signings from this offseason, the Bills would put themselves in good position to receive a third-round pick in 2018 for the loss of cornerback Stephon Gilmore in free agency. They could also release a fourth player to receive a fourth-round pick for losing receiver Robert Woods in free agency.

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