If you thought the Buffalo Bills drafted East Carolina receiver Zay Jones to just be a compliment to Sammy Watkins, think again.
The Bills may not have just used their second-round pick on Jones to give the Bills a No. 2 wide receiver, Jones could be Buffalo’s top target sooner than many expected.
According to The Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci, the Bills are “unlikely” to pick up Watkins’ fifth-year option on his rookie contract by the May 2 deadline. The team is reportedly uncomfortable committing to Watkins for a fifth year because he’s recovering from offseason foot surgery. Carucci broke the news shortly after Buffalo selected Jones.
That doesn’t mean Watkins’ days in Buffalo are numbered, the team can still negotiate a long-term deal or place the franchise tag on him. Still, picking up Watkins’ fifth-year option is the cheapest course of action to keep him there beyond the 2017 season.
To select Jones, the Bills moved up seven spots by trading with the LA Rams to move up from No. 44 to No. 37. The Rams received the Bills’ third rounder, and Buffalo received Los Angeles’ fourth rounder in the exchange.
Bills coach Sean McDermott denied that trading up to pick Jones has anything to do with Watkins’ future.
“It doesn’t, it doesn’t at all,” McDermott told reporters. “Sammy’s a good football player and these are two separate silos.”
Buffalo used two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick to trade up and draft Watkins in 2014. Since then, Watkins has battled through a number of ailments, including broken ribs, a groin injury, hip injury, calf injury and a broken foot.
His production has been decent in his three-year career, but not exactly what the Bills were hoping for when they took a gamble on Watkins over other first-round receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans and Brandin Cooks.