Fan Mailbag: Evaluating the best ways to bolster the wide receiver position - trade, free agency or draft?

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Foster (16) makes a catch against New York Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne (21) during the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Foster (16) makes a catch against New York Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne (21) during the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

We know Antonio Brown wants out in Pittsburgh. The soon-to-be 31-year old has been the most consistently dominant receiver in the league the last six seasons. Now, there is speculation that the Giants may consider parting with Odell Beckham Jr. Personally, I don’t see it, but that doesn’t mean the NFL rumor mill won’t keep surfacing it as a possibility.

Bills fans know receiver help is needed on Buffalo’s roster with a proven top target at the top of the list. So it’s understandable that Bills fans are asking this week if any kind of trade scenario exists for the Bills to put them in position to land one of those big fish.

We dive into those possibilities, what the pecking order behind a No. 1 WR acquisition could look like, whether the No. 2 CB for the Bills is on the roster and further plans for the offensive line after the Spencer Long signing this week.

Thanks to everyone this week for your questions and again you can always send questions to me here - @ChrisBrownBills

1 – From @NYCForever: Can the Bills somehow swing a trade for OBJ?

CB: Whether you’re talking Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr., acquiring players of this caliber via trade is going to require an awful lot of player talent or draft currency going in the other direction to the Steelers or Giants.

While there is no question about the talent you would be inheriting, both of those players come with significant baggage in terms of the character they would bring to your locker room.

Having witnessed the character makeup of the players the Bills have targeted the past two years under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, I just don’t know if either of them fit that mold.

Beane and McDermott have demonstrated more than once that they will move a supreme talent off the roster if the character doesn’t match. I can’t see them parting with major assets to acquire such a player.

Now I suppose there are always exceptions, but the other reason I don’t foresee a trade for either of those wide receivers is because of what the Bills would have to give up in a trade scenario.

Beane has said time and again that they’re committed to building this team through the draft, so to give up what would amount to significant draft currency for one of these receivers, doesn’t appear to align with Beane’s philosophy on building a team.

2 – From @manolitomaen: The Bills will get a WR 1 in FA or Draft. Who would be WR 2 in your opinion. Zay Jones or Robert Foster?

CB: I’m going to answer your question with a question. Does it matter?

In the traditional sense, Foster, who would presumably play outside opposite the number one would be the number two receiver. Jones would likely move inside to the slot and the slot receiver has traditionally been the three.

Obviously, players like Julian Edelman have blown up that traditional pecking order, which brings me right back to the question I led off with. Does it matter?

I don’t believe it does for Brian Daboll or Josh Allen. As long as targets are getting open and the passing game is consistent and moving the ball, that’s really their only major concern.

3 – From @mattcorey716: Can Zay play slot? Is our #2 CB opposite Tre on the current roster? Kicker competition brewing? Where did the screen game go? Will Bills draft a RB?

CB: Yes, Zay can absolutely play slot. For almost his entire college career he played slot. It wasn’t until his senior year at East Carolina that he began to line up outside more in an effort to demonstrate he could be more than just a slot receiver.

With respect to the second corner being on the roster, I think Levi Wallace would tell you yes. Wallace impressed once he was inserted into the starting lineup in the second half of the season. His skill set fits Buffalo’s scheme well and while there will likely be competition for the No. 2 CB job, it’s Wallace’s job to lose.

I don’t foresee any competition at kicker. Hauschka is their guy.

The screen game disappeared this past season because Buffalo’s offensive linemen didn’t possess the mobility necessary to effectively execute it. That was one of the areas where losing Eric Wood and Richie Incognito was felt most.

I do believe if the value matches where they are on the board that adding a running back in the draft is a viable option, but I wouldn’t expect it until day three, unless an unexpectedly gross value that Buffalo cannot ignore presents itself in rounds two or three.

4 – From @JacobAnder209: Thoughts on Hakeem Butler for the Bills?

CB: The Iowa State receiver is a giant at 6-6 and 220 pounds. As is the case with most receivers that size, dropping his weight and getting in and out of breaks is an issue for him. The most impressive part of his game is probably his ability to win contested balls and gain yards after the catch by using his strength to ward off would-be tacklers.

He’s pretty good on double moves, but overall his change of direction and lateral agility is compromised by his extraordinary length. So right away he could probably help you on vertical routes, but for short to intermediate stuff he needs work with his feet.

I think at the high end he’s a player who fills a specific role, so if you’re a big target away from having a complete receiving corps, a big-play threat like Butler is a good add. But if you have a passing game that depends on the versatility of your receivers to fill multiple roles and move all over the field, he doesn’t check all the boxes.

I like him for what he does well. If you need him to be more than that however, I don’t think it’s the right fit.

5 – From @rosenbarker: They addressed the C/G position however we believe we need more help on the O-line! What do you see the #Bills doing more to address this glaring hole to keep our young talented QB upright and opening holes for a RB?

CB: I believe the Bills are far from done addressing their offensive line. I see them adding at least two more by some combination of the draft and free agency.

Buffalo needs mobility and strength up front, which was sorely lacking, so I think that will be a priority in terms of skill set there. Whether guard or tackle is addressed in free agency or the draft will be based largely on opportunity in terms of who is available, what appropriate value is and what Buffalo is willing to spend.

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