Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane speaks during a news...

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Feb. 27, 2024. With Stefon Diggs dealt to the Houston Texans, the Bills are expected to be targeting a receiver high in the draft. Just do not ask Beane, who would prefer to keep everyone guessing. Credit: AP/Michael Conroy

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Unable to find a trade partner to move up in the NFL draft order and fill the Buffalo Bills' various needs, particularly at receiver, general manager Brandon Beane settled for the next best thing on Thursday.

He traded out of the first round entirely.

In completing two deals, the Bills are now on the clock in holding the first pick — 33rd overall — of the second round that opens on Friday night. And Beane made no guarantees whether he might swing yet another deal before it’s Buffalo’s turn to pick.

“Our phone’s already ringing. We’ll see what happens with that,” he said.

Though acknowledging he made some attempts to move up a few spots in the order, Beane disputed the pre-draft speculation of being interested in making a major splash by saying he didn’t want to part with his second-round pick.

“That was all just smoke, to be clear,” Beane said. “But you know me, if there were certain players that fell, we would have gone up. I did not want to give up our 2 (second-round pick) though. It would have had to have been something that made way too much sense for me.”

The benefit of trading down was allowing Beane to improve the positioning of his later-round picks, while also gaining a third-rounder (95th overall), which Buffalo traded last year in a mid-season deal to acquire cornerback Rasul Douglas from Green Bay.

Buffalo was initially scheduled to open the draft with the 28th selection before moving back four spots in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs. Beane said he was interested in making a selection at No. 32, before the Panthers offered the 33rd pick and a fifth-round selection, 141st overall, for Buffalo’s sixth-rounder (200th).

The Bills were in the market for a receiver after trading Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans earlier this month and losing Gabe Davis in free agency. Four receivers were already off the board when Buffalo made the trade with the Chiefs, who went on to select Texas receiver Xavier Worthy.

Overall, seven receivers were selected in the first round.

Among those still available are Georgia’s Ladd McConkey and Texas’ Adonai Mitchell. Buffalo could also target cornerback with Iowa’s Cooper DeJean and Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry on the board.

“We’re excited about tomorrow and, instead of just having the one pick now we got three,” Beane said.

Trading Diggs was part of Beane’s decision to hit the reset button to free up future salary cap space and filter youth into an aging roster that was good enough to win four straight AFC East titles, but each time fell short in the playoffs. Three of Buffalo’s playoff losses came against Kansas City, including a 27-24 loss in January, and another to Cincinnati.

Buffalo was unable to afford re-signing Davis or edge rusher Leonard Floyd in free agency. The Bills also released center Mitch Morse, and broke up a defensive secondary threesome made up of safeties Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde and cornerback Tre’Davious White that had been together since 2017.

Diggs’ departure was the most stunning given how much his arrival in a 2020 trade with Minnesota transformed an already productive Josh Allen-led offense into one of the NFL’s most potent. The two rewrote most single-season franchise passing, receiving and scoring record, with Diggs topping 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each of his four years.

Buffalo’s group of receivers is currently led by Khalil Shakir, who is coming off a promising second season, and the free agent additions of Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins.

This marks the second time in Beane’s seven drafts as Bills GM in which Buffalo doesn’t have a first-round pick. Beane traded Buffalo’s first-rounder in 2020 in the deal to acquire Diggs from Minnesota.

Beane has a track record of making draft-day trades, but was previously known for moving up in the order.

In his previous six drafts, Beane stayed put in the first round just twice (2019 and ’21), and made deals to move up in the order four times.

“I would say Vegas lost today on this,” Beane said with a chuckle. “They probably would have pegged us to move up.”

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