The NFL's trade deadline seemingly passed on Tuesday without anything noteworthy going down at the wire. Twelve minutes after the 4 p.m. ET deadline, all of that changed.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Panthers traded receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills. In return, the Bills sent the Panthers a third and seventh-round pick. The Bills confirmed the deal shortly after Schefter dropped his report.
First of all: Holy crap! Talk about a last-second move if it wasn't reported until 12 minutes AFTER the deadline. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the trade came together three minutes before the deadline.
The connection between Bills general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott, and the Panthers probably came in handy. The Bills hired both McDermott and Beane this offseason after their stints as Carolina's defensive coordinator and assistant general manager.
OK, back to the trade itself. The Bills just acquired a big-bodied, 26-year-old receiver who totaled 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie season, 941 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016, and 475 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. He's a good, not great receiver who sometimes struggles to get open, but has been productive throughout his career.
The Bills will have him on their roster through 2018.
Kelvin Benjamin will count $529,000 against the Bills’ 2017 cap and $8.5 million in 2018.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) October 31, 2017
He's already their best receiver. Remember: The Bills traded Sammy Watkins away in the summer back when it seemed like they were tanking. Their leading receiver by receptions is running back LeSean McCoy -- by yards, it's tight end Charles Clay. Their leading receiver who actually plays receiver is Jordan Matthews, who has totaled 15 receptions, 193 yards, and one touchdown. So, the biggest winner of this trade is quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who finally has a to target downfield.
The move makes sense for the Bills because they're in the middle of the playoff race at 5-2 and receiver was their biggest weakness. They also own a ton of draft capital.
Bills had an extra 2018 3rd round pick from the Eagles and the Ronald Darby trade.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 31, 2017
On the other hand, it's a little confusing for the Panthers, who are also in the playoff hunt at 5-3. It's not like Benjamin is this world class receiver, but he was still Cam Newton's most reliable receiver. Maybe this means tight end Greg Olsen is close to returning. Maybe the Panthers weren't happy with Benjamin after his weight issues over the summer. Maybe the Panthers are all-in on rookie Curtis Samuel.
With that being said, the Panthers did get a great return for Benjamin. Let's acknowledge that. It might hurt them in the short-term, but it could also benefit them in the long-term if they can hit on those extra draft picks.
The Bills play the Jets on Thursday night, so it seems doubtful we'll get to see Benjamin suit up for his new team this week. Next up on the schedule are the Saints on Nov. 12. That gives the Bills nearly two weeks to get Benjamin up to speed.