ORCHARD PARK, N.J.. — How often does a team replace and leave a player who is the face of the league? Or at least a draft that became the face of his league?
In the case of the Buffalo Bills, they could do the unthinkable; this weekend they have the chance to prove it.
The Kansas City Chiefs (6:40 p.m., CBS) and quarterback Patrick Mahomes (assuming he survives NFL concussion protocol), the Chiefs’ recruiting class for 2017 with Billings’ No. 10, will be the opponents on Sunday for the AFC championship game.
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He is a buffalo trade fan who has heard ad nauseam. In Coach Sean McDermott’s first selection session, the Bills swapped with the Chiefs for the No. 27 pick, the third-round pick (No. 91) in 2017 and the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2018 (No. 22). After a few maneuvers, Buffalo walked away from the deal with three cornerstones of the franchise – cornerback Tre’David White, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and left tackle Dion Dawkins – as well as special teams ace Siran Neal.
Is that enough for the 25-year-old Mahomes, who has a Super Bowl ring, an MVP title and a chance to add to his trophy cabinet this postseason starter? The result of Sunday’s game will allow for further discussion.
They have a good player in Patrick, and I think we have a good player in Josh [Allen], Tremaine and Tre’Davids – whatever your form is, in terms of kickers who have become kickers, McDermott said Monday. I think both teams did very well.
For a while, especially during Mahomes’ 2018 MVP season, when Buffalo lost 6-10, it seemed the Bills were destined to commemorate a decade of the player they had dropped to another AFC team.
Dion Dawkins, left tackler, has been involved in Buffalo’s emissions since the exchange with the Chiefs in 2017. Thanks in part to this deal and the development of QB Josh Allen, the Bills are one win away from a Super Bowl victory. Dustin Bradford/Sportswire Icon
But even after winning the Super Bowl, it was clear that the Bills were going to build a sustainable future for the 2020 season based on their 2017 run and picking their own quarterback franchise in Allen in the 2018 draft. Not only is Allen the best statistical quarterback in Bills history, setting franchise records for passing yards (4,544), touchdowns (37) and completion percentage (69.2) in a season, but he’s also in the MVP conversation this season – right next to Mahomes.
It’s special; it’s a special group,” Dawkins said after Buffalo’s first-round playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts when Allen completed a 324-yard pass. Josh is almost like the Madden character – only 99. He goes on, week after week. I like to call him my quarterback and block for him.
White was rewarded for returning the Bills of Mahomes trade: He was named to the first team All-Pro in 2019 and has been a professional bowler the past two seasons at all times. Director Brandon Beane emphasizes that his plan is to recruit, develop and re-sign the pillars of the team. The Bills rewarded White last season with a four-year, $70 million overtime record that made him the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history until Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey surpassed him four days later.
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I was their first choice, so they just wanted me to come here and help build the culture here, White said. From the day I was mobilized to the day I got here and met everyone, I was told that I was the first choice to change this organization. I didn’t take it lightly.
And White isn’t the only candidate for a second contract in 2017, as Dawkins signed a four-year, $60 million contract extension in August. Unlike White, who was a star in each of his first two seasons, Dawkins struggled in his second season in the NFL. However, he recovered and was named team captain in 2019. He improved his game so much that Buffalo locked him into a contract extension before he could play the final year of his rookie contract.
Dawkins is as much a pillar as any other player on the team.
He’s improved every year since he’s been here, his intangibles, his confidence, his skills in his job, said Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator. It’s a will… Dion for taking on all that work. I’m glad we got him.
It’s also impossible to ignore Edmund’s contributions as one of the NFL’s most productive linebackers over the past three seasons. Since his rookie year in 2018, only 11 NFL players have more tackles than Edmunds’ 355. The Double Pro Bowler is also younger than any other Bills player; at just 22, the Bills halfback could be a defensive quarterback for the next decade.
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And then there’s the player who changed this discussion the most – Allen. His development as one of the top quarterbacks in the league this season has officially caused regret after the 2017 exchange ended.
Marcus Spears says without Patrick Mahomes, the chiefs should do well to beat the Bills.
For two seasons, the question remained unanswered: What would the bills have looked like if they had taken Mahomes instead of the pick-and-roll exchange? The answer is no longer relevant.
I don’t really operate in the world of what ifs, Bean said. I look at the Buffalo Bills – when I arrived in May [after the 2017 project] – what an opportunity it was. It’s for the fans and other people, not for me. My thing is, when I walk through the door, that’s what we have, it’s the holes in our team, that’s where we’re good. That’s my approach.
Buffalo received three franchise picks, two of which drew multi-year extensions, and found their franchise quarterback the following season after giving the pick that became Mahomes.
More importantly, if they manage to topple the Chiefs this weekend, the Bills have a chance to establish themselves as one of the few teams to give up generational talent and actually do better.
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