Over the course of the summer it became abundantly clear for the Buffalo Bills: 2016 second-round pick and linebacker Reggie Ragland, quite simply, just wasn’t in their plans.
The Bills have traded Ragland to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, the two teams announced on Monday afternoon. Ragland, only in his second season out of Alabama, is coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in August of 2016.
Through the first 10 days of training camp, the Bills worked Ragland exclusively at middle linebacker with the second-team defense, after much offseason anticipation that he would get a shot to work with the first-team defense. The last part just never came to fruition.
After the tenth day of training camp, from that point forward, Ragland was working exclusively with the third-team defense — and even on Saturday in Baltimore, received barely any time on the field during the Bills’ third preseason game.
Under former general manager Doug Whaley, the Bills traded up in the order to secure Ragland’s services in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Joe B’s Take
The writing was clearly on the wall for Reggie Ragland in Buffalo. Throughout the entire summer, he wasn’t even close to working with the first-team defense, and as time wore on, the Bills must have clearly recognized that the former second-round pick just wasn’t a fit for the Bills new defensive scheme.
Ragland, a prototypical thumping 3-4 inside linebacker really wasn’t suited well for a role as an athletic middle linebacker in head coach Sean McDermott’s scheme. Now, he gets a chance in Kansas City with the defensive scheme he’s made for.
From a Bills perspective, it’s a glaring move because they are giving up on a second-round pick from just last year for less than what they paid for him, but so much more goes into a deal like that.
Ragland is coming off of a torn ACL and has still yet to play in a regular season game in his NFL career, and he’s only had brief action during the preseason against opposing third-team offenses. With that type of injury comes a risk for the team trading for him, and the value of Ragland had to depreciate because of it.
That’s why it’s only a fourth-round pick for someone that was once upon a time a second-round selection.
The Bills gave Ragland every chance to make the team under McDermott, giving him valuable reps with the second-team that could have even turned into first-team reps if he performed well enough in the scheme. But you also have to consider what McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane values in their players all over the roster.
It’s one word: Versatility. Something that Ragland didn’t offer the Bills.
In McDermott’s scheme, Ragland could only play in one position — at middle linebacker — which diminished his value even on the roster, as evidenced by the more versatile Gerald Hodges rising up to take the second-team reps at Ragland’s original spot. He was facing an uphill battle to even make the team by the time the weekend was done.
For Beane, who knew there was a potential outcome to outright release Ragland, he had to gauge interest around the NFL to see if the Bills could get something for this once valuable asset to the franchise. And to be fair, I’m actually surprised they got what they did for a player that is a complete unknown around the league that’s coming off the type of injury that he is.
It’s not a home run for the Bills organization by any means because they had to give up on yet another early pick. However, they got solid value back in return for a player that might have just been released on Saturday had they not made some calls around the league.
And as we continue to get to know Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott, it’s quite obvious that they aren’t just going to sit on their hands — they will try to find value if there is any value. In this case, it worked out.
It’s also another reminder that Beane will need to do something that Doug Whaley was not able to — hit on all the draft picks they have in their possession, and to build from the ground up.