The San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills have agreed on a trade that sends wide receiver Stevie Johnson west in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2015, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Per his report, the pick can turn into a third-rounder if certain conditions are met.
The 49ers have been in the market for receivers, and were thought to be targeting one in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft on Friday night. They currently have big-bodied targets Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. Johnson is also a talented red zone pass-catcher, with perhaps a better ability than either Crabtree or Boldin to stretch the field vertically.
The move by the Bills shows the team's confidence in first-round selection Sammy Watkins, if the conditions of its initial trade with the Cleveland Browns didn't already. The Bills gave up a the No. 9 pick, a first-rounder in 2015 and a fourth-rounder in 2015 to acquire the No. 4 overall pick from the Browns and select the wide receiver out of Clemson.
The Bills essentially gained back their fourth-round pick for 2015, but fans may still be leery of the price they paid for Watkins. All told, the team's dealings over the last day equate to spending two first-round picks and Johnson to acquire the rookie.
Johnson was rumored to be on his way out of Buffalo since the end of the 2013 season. According to Brian Galliford at Buffalo Rumblings, the Bills' offseason moves solidified Johnson's fate:
Rumors that Johnson might be done in Buffalo have existed since immediately after the 2013 season; they became whispers when the Bills traded for former Tampa Bay wideout Mike Williams, then became shouts when, last evening, they traded up to the No. 4 overall pick to take Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Johnson posted three consecutive seasons 1,000-plus receiving yards prior to 2013. He had seemingly established himself as a reliable No. 1 receiver, but then struggled mightily last season. Johnson appeared in 12 games, missing four due to various injuries, and catching just 52 passes for 597 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were four-year lows.
The Bills now have a young, but incredibly gifted, receiving corps. Joining Watkins are Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, both of whom are entering their second seasons in the NFL. The Bills also traded for Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams during the offseason. He will be the unit's veteran presence entering his fifth season.
Former NFL defensive end Stephen was effusive with praise for Watkins in his scouting report for SB Nation:
I looked high and low for something to knock on this kid and came away empty. Even his blocking was at least average, maybe above average on some plays. He isn't some one-year wonder, either. At a little over 6'0, 211 pounds, per his Combine measurements, he has good size as well.
Everything I saw in those five games tells me that Sammy Watkins is about as close as you will get to a sure thing in this draft, and he is going to make some offensive coordinator very happy!