Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane reveals work required to land Josh Allen

He had to make multiple deals to get in position to land the quarterback he wanted.
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Everyone knows the moves Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane made to move up in the 2018 NFL Draft to select quarterback Josh Allen with the No. 7 pick.

But until this week, when Beane revealed fascinating behind-the-scenes details to podcast host and former Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, hardly anyone knew how difficult the process was.

“We finished after the '17 season going into that draft with a 21st and 22nd pick," he told Collinsworth during the interview presented by Pro Football Focus  and you’re like, `all right, how are we going to get one of ... these top guys?'

“And so as we’re going through that spring process of working these rookie quarterbacks out and getting to know them, we had [starting tackle] Cordy Glenn, and so we used him [in a trade involving multiple other picks] to go from 21 to 12 with the Bengals. We were just trying to get up ... as close to the top 10 or into the top 10 by the time draft day got here."

They did that, Beane revealed, with one final move in which he admitted to overcompensating the Tampa Bay Bucs for their No. 7 pick because he didn't want to risk missing out on Allen, his target all along.

Their actions on draft day leading up to the trade were particularly fascinating.

"Cleveland had the [No. 4 pick] and we tried to make a trade there," he said. "But they wanted future ones. Didn't want to do that.

"And then I [had] worked a deal out with [the Denver Broncos'] John Elway ... to go from 12 to five before the draft. But John told me, he said, `listen, Brandon, there's a player that if he falls to us, I would keep the pick. I didn't know who it was but I knew it wasn't a quarterback."

That player turned out to be defensive end Bradley Chubb, whom the Broncos selected.

So with time and options running out, Beane gave Bucs counterpart Jason Licht two second-round picks for the right to swap first-round picks and move up.

"[That was] more than the trade chart [widely used by NFL general managers] would say to do," Beane said, "but we really wanted Josh."

It should be pointed out here that although Allen now appears to be on a much more positive track than the quarterbacks drafted ahead of him, Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, the Baltimore Ravens took Lamar Jackson with the final pick in the first round.

Jackson already has won an MVP award, but he has faltered in the playoffs and lost a head-to-head meeting with Allen in the divisional round last month.

Their career paths also appear to be moving in the opposite direction.

Jackson's production dropped from 2019, his MVP season, to 2020. Allen's improved so dramatically that he nearly won the MVP himself. He had to settle for second place in the voting behind Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.

Suffice to say the Bills are not regretting anything they did to land their franchise quarterback.

And it's always refreshing to hear the powers that be talk about what goes on in the frantic hours and minutes before each draft pick is made.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro.