While it may not seem like it at first, wide receiver is quietly a big need for the Buffalo Bills. Under contract for next season are Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Cole Beasley, Marquez Stevenson, Isaiah Hodgins, and Tanner Gentry. Diggs is a top receiver in the game, and Davis is a budding star, but there’s really nothing behind them.
Beasley can still make an impact but he’s getting older and could be a cap casualty. Stevenson and Hodgins have combined for 10 career snaps per pro-football-refrence.com. They are unproven, as is Tanner Gentry who hasn’t been on an active roster since 2017 with the Bears. The Bills’ need for wide receiver is as big a need as any this off-season.
Bills’ Free Agent Receivers
Set to hit the open market from the Buffalo Bills are wide receivers Isaiah McKenzie, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jake Kumerow. McKenzie is a fan favorite and great gadget player, but the team just doesn’t utilize him. Outside of scorching the Patriots for 11 catches, 125 yards, and a touchdown, McKenzie didn’t do much on offense.
On top of that, McKenzie was punished and benched for two games. He lost his kick return duties because of a fumble versus the Colts. McKenzie was a free agent last off-season but took basically peanuts to come back. He is in a similar situation this off-season. The benching, the underutilizing, and the want for more money could drive McKenzie away in free agency.
Emmanuel Sanders was a welcomed edition this past season. General manager Brandon Beane finally got him to Buffalo after years of trying to do so. Sanders started off the season red hot but cooled off and was pretty much a non factor down the stretch. He finished the season with 42-catches for 626-yards and 4-touchdowns.
Sanders is leaning towards retirement and would be 35 years old heading into the season. He has not played a full season since 2016. Jake Kumerow was a training camp stud and played very well on special teams this past season. He never got much of an opportunity at wide receiver but the team likes him a lot and he could very well be back next season. With that being said, the re-signing of Kumerow does not take away the fact that the Bills need more help at receiver.
Continue Building Around Allen & Dorsey
Just because Josh Allen has evolved into one of the best quarterbacks in the league, that does not mean the team should stop adding talent around him. The Bills lack a true home run threat on offense and they lack speed. The team used 34 year old Emmanuel Sanders as their main deep ball receiver. The Bills’ also don’t have receivers that create a lot of YAC (Yards After Catch).
Per NBCSports.com, the Bills were 20th in the league in YAC with 1,757 YAC yards. To put it into perspective, the Chiefs were first with 2,700 yards of YAC. Despite not much help after the catch from his receivers, Josh Allen still threw for 4,407 yards. Imagine what Allen’s stat line would look like with receivers creating almost 3,000 yards of YAC like the Chiefs have.
Not only will more talent and speed help Josh Allen, it will help Ken Dorsey too. Dorsey is set to be a first time play caller this upcoming season, and the more talent he has in his personnel the better he will do. Brandon Beane has stated multiple times he would love to add a player of Tyreek Hill’s caliber (yes, every general manager would). If the Bills can add that receiver that’s a threat to score every time he touches the ball, their already dangerous offense becomes even more dangerous. Speed kills.
Free Agent Options
The Bills seem to have a plan to clear up some cap space and try and land some free agents. How much they will be able to clear isn’t known, but there are some free agent receivers that could help them out. The first that comes to mind is Christian Kirk, who is currently on vacation with Josh Allen. Kirk might be a little out of the price range as per spotrac.com his projected market value is 4-years $47 million. He could take less for the chance to compete and play with Josh Allen and Diggs.
Kirk brings speed and YAC ability and could play in the slot if the Bills move on from Beasley. Another solid addition could be D.J. Chark, who put together two real solid seasons before only playing 4 games last season. Brandon Beane could possibly dish out one of his favorite things, a 1-year prove it deal. Chark should love the idea of having Allen throw him the ball and having a big season to earn himself a nice paycheck.
The Draft will also be a good place to get a young playmaker on a cheap contract. While Diggs is still relatively young, getting young playmakers now could go a long way in a few years as he heads towards 30 years old. With the talent on defense and offensive line in the draft, a top receiver could fall right into the Bills’ lap at pick number 25.
Jameson Williams out of Alabama was being regarded as the best receiver in the draft before he tore his ACL in the CFB championship game. If he falls because of the injury, the Bills should jump all over it. If the Bills are built to have continuous successful seasons, when will they have a shot at the draft’s top receiver again? Williams brings speed and top notch agility, just what the Bills need. He might not be available till mid season, but would slot in nicely for the Bills.
If either of the Ohio State receivers are there, Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave, the Bills could opt for them at 25. If they wait till rounds two to four, some solid options could be Justyn Ross from Clemson, Calvin Austin out of Memphis or John Metchie from Alabama. Whether they go draft or free agency, the Bills must add at the wide receiver position.