Your move, Buffalo Bills.
The New York Jets got an almost six-week jump on the Bills before April's draft, trading the No. 6 overall pick and three second-round selections (two in 2018 and one in 2019) to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 3 overall pick.
It is a trade that positions the Jets to pluck one of the draft's best quarterbacks off the board and box out their AFC East-rival Bills in doing so.
After trading quarterback Tyrod Taylor for the No. 65 overall selection and left tackle Cordy Glenn to move up from No. 21 to No. 12, the Bills were on the top of the list of teams that could trade up in the first round to take a swing at finding a franchise quarterback.
Apparently the Jets were paying attention and made the Colts an offer they could not refuse. It is unclear what the Bills offered the Colts for the No. 3 pick, if they pursued a trade at all.
In what came across to some as a smokescreen, Bills general manager Brandon Beane on Friday talked down the idea of the Bills trading up from No. 12, saying, "I don't know what we're doing [yet]. I honestly don't." Beane added he needed to get a closer look at the draft's top quarterbacks in private visits and workouts before feeling comfortable about moving up.
The Jets did not allow Beane the opportunity to get comfortable and leapfrogged a quarterback-needy division rival in the draft order.
It is an aggressive move that raises the stakes in a race dating to last year for the potential franchise quarterbacks at the top of the 2018 draft: UCLA's Josh Rosen, USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.
The Bills have maneuvered for almost a year to allow for a chance at one of those quarterbacks. In addition to this week's trades of Taylor and Glenn, the team also acquired the Los Angeles Rams' second-round pick and the Philadelphia Eagles' third-round pick in trades last August, and picked up the Kansas City Chiefs' first-round pick by trading down last April.
Will hoarding those draft picks be for naught? Here are the Bills' options after the Jets' big move:
Sell the house for Nos. 1 or 2. The Jets are almost certain to take a quarterback at No. 3 -- it would not have made sense to give up so many assets in a trade up for another position, except for Penn State running back Saquon Barkley -- and the Bills are not likely to know for sure which quarterback the Jets want. That means the only way to assure the Bills get the quarterback they want is to trade up to No. 1, or do a deal with the New York Giants for No. 2 and hope the Cleveland Browns don't take the Bills' desired quarterback at No. 1. But the Browns are not likely to trade out of the top spot. They've danced around the quarterback issue for decades, not taking one with the eight top-10 picks they've had since 2008. As far as the Giants, they are in a position of power. They can draft their potential successor to Eli Manning, select the top player on their board (maybe Barkley?) or get a king’s ransom for their pick. So, it's going to be challenging for the Bills to do a trade. Under the conventional Jimmy Johnson trade chart that Beane said in January remains a baseline for many NFL teams, the Bills' two first-round picks -- Nos. 12 and 22 -- are worth 1,980 points, enough to trade up to No. 4. Adding both second-round picks -- Nos. 53 and 56 -- yields 2,690 points, which theoretically is enough for No. 2 (2,600 points). But there is no guarantee the Jets will not try to move higher than No. 3, or that other quarterback-needy teams will not try to beat the Bills to the punch, too. That could drive the price higher, and giving up most or all of the Bills' picks in the first three rounds would mean Beane is betting his job on getting his quarterback pick right.
Attempt to move behind the Jets and ahead of other quarterback-needy teams. Even if the Bills concede defeat to the Jets (and possibly the Browns at No. 1) in the quarterback race, they could still beat another quarterback-needy team to the punch. That could make the No. 4 pick attractive for the Browns to deal away, and for the Bills to jump ahead of the Denver Broncos (No. 6), the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins or any surprise team making a move for a quarterback. Such a deal would likely have to wait until draft night unless the Bills feel confident the Browns (at No. 1) or Jets will not take the quarterback they want.
Stay at No. 12 and pick the best player available. This is the strategy Beane, smokescreen or not, sold at his Friday news conference. Beane said he told his scouts before the combine, when the Bills held the Nos. 21 and 22 picks in the first round, there would be players they would be wasting their time scouting because there was no chance they would fall that far. Beane added that by moving up to No. 12, the Bills gave themselves access to top-15 prospects in the draft -- but specifically noted they might not take a quarterback. If he is to be taken at his word, that means Beane could keep his stash of draft picks, take another position at No. 12 and possibly select a quarterback at No. 22. At that point, Louisville's Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph could be the only realistic options left on the board. Or, the Bills could pass on a quarterback in the first round, which would not appear to be a popular decision among fans.
If the Jets' trade ultimately prevents Buffalo from taking a quarterback in the first round, the Bills would probably enter this season with AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman as their top two quarterbacks. The unproven tandem would mean -- until proved otherwise -- the Bills could have one of the worst quarterback situations in the NFL in 2018, which could position the team for a high draft pick in 2019.