Updates from Friday, May 23
Jay Skorski of The Buffalo News has cap news regarding the deal:
There'd been some talk the #Bills might be able to split up the $10.225M in dead money on Stevie Johnson's contract over next 2 years (1/2)— Jay Skurski (@JaySkurski) May 23, 2014
That's not the case, according to a team source. Because Johnson was traded, that $10.225M will count on Buffalo's 2014 salary cap (2/2).— Jay Skurski (@JaySkurski) May 23, 2014
Fans wanted the San Francisco 49ers to make a splash on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL draft, and they delivered by trading for Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson. The Bills confirmed the deal on their Twitter feed Friday:
Adam Schefter of ESPN first reported the news on Twitter:
Filed to ESPN: 49ers trading a conditional 2015 4th-round pick to Buffalo for WR Stevie Johnson, per sources. Pick can become a 3rd.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2014
Tim Graham of The Buffalo News later confirmed the trade and provided a statement from Bills GM Doug Whaley:
Can confirm Stevie Johnson has been traded to the 49ers.— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) May 9, 2014
"Stevie was a great contributor during his career with our organization. Today's decision was not an easy one to make, especially involving a player like Stevie who leaves everything he has on the field and is an emotional leader in our locker room.
"All of the decisions we make are done so in the best interest of our team. We wish him the best of luck in San Francisco and throughout the rest of his NFL career. We also want to thank Stevie and his family for their commitment to the Buffalo Bills and the community over the last six years."
Johnson bid farewell to his former team via Twitter:
After moving back in the 2nd round, and moving back up shortly thereafter, the 49ers acquired a 2015 4th-round pick, which is the price they paid for Johnson. ESPN's Adam Schefter provided details:
SF just got Denver's 4th-round pick in 2015...so WR Stevie Johnson is coming to 49ers for free.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 10, 2014
The move is a perfect one for the Niners, who were looking for more talent and stability at the wide receiver position. While Anquan Boldin (33) is still under contract, the aging wideout needed to be replaced in the future. And Michael Crabtree is entering a contract year.
Johnson has been a productive receiver in the past, but he had a year to forget with the Bills in 2013. The 27-year-old missed four games due to injury and caught 52 passes for just 597 yards and three touchdowns.
Adding Johnson offensively immediately boosts the 49ers passing game, which is useful with the 2013 Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in their own division. Though it could be a move looking toward the future, Tim Kawakami of San Jose Mercury News believes it's a quick fix:
Stevie Johnson is a very good WR, still only 27, but with a very large cap number going forward. Might be a 1-year situation.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) May 9, 2014
Meanwhile, Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated doesn't think the job is done yet for San Fran, who have five Day 2 picks:
49ers check off a clear need without giving up anything in this year's draft. Still have plenty left to be aggressive today.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) May 9, 2014
Before the draft started, Albert Breer of NFL.com saw the trade coming, along with another that might be coming in the future:
Two vets who'd be possibilities for trades this weekend if things break a certain way -- Bills WR Stevie Johnson and Bucs QB Mike Glennon.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 8, 2014
Breer now reports the Bills might have been working before the draft to deal Johnson:
Bills have been shopping Stevie Johnson for a while. My understanding is they tried to deal him to Tampa as part of the Mike Williams trade.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 9, 2014
As for the Bills, the team made a huge move early in the draft to get Sammy Watkins. The Clemson star bolsters a lineup that already includes Robert Woods, Mike Williams and T.J. Graham, making four receivers fighting for the No. 1 and 2 jobs for E.J. Manuel.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the timing of the move:
The #Bills were quietly shopping Stevie Johnson and looking for his replacement. Found it in Sammy Watkins, did the deal for Stevie— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 9, 2014
Is this a smart move for both sides?
Kawakami mentioned the cap hit for Johnson, which likely factored into the Bills dealing him. With Johnson's contract off the board, it will be easier for the team to re-sign players it wants to retain in the future.
Buffalo now has a young cast to build around for the future on offense and defense. San Francisco now has a team that can immediately compete for the NFC West and a Super Bowl this season.
Oh, and this is only the second day of the selection process. Expect more to come from this year's wild, drama-filled draft.
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