It’s not every day you see a young player for player swap in the NFL, but that’s exactly what the Buffalo Bills today when in a stunner, Buffalo sent starting inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for OLB Jerry Hughes.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) April 29, 2013
Sheppard became a full-time starter for the Bills last year and his position with the Bills seemed secure when they released Nick Barnett this past offseason. Sheppard had 80 tackles for the Bills and two sacks last season, but struggled at times, particularly in pass coverage and was often on the sideline during pass situations.
The move was made at least in part when Sheppard became expendable following the selection of rookie Kiko Alonso in the second-round of the NFL draft this past Friday.
Hughes was a first-round pick (31 overall) of the Colts in 2010 but hasn’t done much in the league up until this point, though he did have a career-high four sacks last season. Surely Bills general manager Buddy Nix thinks Hughes’ skill set is better served for the hybrid 3-4 defense the team plans on running this year. Hughes is likely to compete to compete with Manny Lawson for playing time at outside linebacker this summer.
The trade may also indicate the Bills have another move in mind with their inside linebacking, with speculation sure to increase that the team may sign free agent Karlos Dansby, who visited one week ago.
The Bills have virtually nothing in terms of depth on the inside after Alonso and Nigel Bradham.