Bills CEO: Trading up for Watkins not about impressing new owners

The Bills front office isn't concerned about an ownership change. (USATSI)
The Bills front office isn't concerned about an ownership change. (USATSI)

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History says that the Bills gave up too much to land wide receiver Sammy Watkins with the No. 4 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. But team CEO Russ Brandon said that decision had nothing to do with making a good impression on whomever takes over ownership of the franchise in the wake of Ralph Wilson's death.

"It has nothing to do with the future," Brandon told's Judy Battista. "It is everything about the future is now. [General manager] Doug Whaley and our player personnel department are empowered and have full autonomy to make football decisions. That was a football decision, and it wasn't tied to the future of the organization. It is business as usual. We're making football decisions, no matter what. We're making business decisions as we would, in a very prepared and methodical way.

"Doug Whaley did a great job preparing for the draft -- they stayed true to doing what they wanted to do, and that was to move up to take Sammy Watkins. Everything is about winning. I know it's a cliché. It has not one iota of an impact on who the future owner may be."

Even if Brandon says otherwise, it's a fair concern; Jimmy Haslam bought the Browns and promptly cleaned house. And a year later, he did the same thing with the people he had hired. It's not uncommon for owners to want "their people" running the team, and it would be perfectly reasonable to expect Brandon, Whaley and coach Doug Marrone to do everything to try to keep their jobs.

In the meantime, the Bills are hoping to rewrite history. Rarely does trading up pay off, and the reality is that good teams seldom do it. Good teams are also good because A) they have a franchise quarterback, and B) a lot of quality depth around him.

The team could identify a new owner as soon as July. At the league meetings in late March, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote, "There are no shortage of qualified candidates who are ready and eager to buy into the NFL, with the leagues finances booming and its broadcast and labor situation secure through the rest of this decade. For every name you hear, there are several more lurking."

Those names include musician Jon Bon Jovi and Hall of Famer, former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and, according to the Buffalo News, billionaire B. Thomas Golisano, former owner of the Buffalo Sabres.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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