Who Will Buffalo Target at WR?
By: Caleb Holfoth
The Buffalo Bills have a very good wide receiver group. Led by All-Pro Stefon Diggs, while the Bills boast another All-Pro in slot receiver Cole Beasley. After those two the future of the Bills wide receiver room can go several ways. The Bills could go in plenty of directions. First, Buffalo could keep John Brown and run it back with the same group. Buffalo could cut Brown to save $8 million and give stellar rookie Gabe Davis an expanded role. Those four guys are the only receivers in the group who had significant contributions and are returning. Both Isaiah McKenzie and Andre Roberts are free agents. While GM Brandon Beane could resign one or both of those players, he likely cuts John Brown to save $8 Million for the Bills who currently have only $1 million of cap space.
The Buffalo Bills love to use wide receivers. They are in the top ten in the number of snaps with three wide receivers on the field and lead the NFL in the number of snaps with four wide receivers on the field. John Brown and Isaiah McKenzie combined for over 700 snaps and that number would have been much higher if it weren’t for John Brown missing six games for the Bills. Those snaps will have to be replaced and while Gabe Davis may take some, he already was on the field for 67% of the Bills offensive plays so he can only take so many more. Buffalo will have to look towards Free Agency to replace some of the snaps that they will lose if they cut John Brown or even if they keep him and let Isaiah McKenzie and Andre Roberts walk.
After signing a 4-year $44 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders two years ago Tyrell Williams was just cut by the raiders. Tyrell Williams sat out all of 2020 with a Torn Labrum (Shoulder) and underwhelmed in 2019 with only 42 receptions. Williams does have one 1,000-yard season under his belt when he had 1,059 yards with the then-San Diego Chargers. Williams stands at 6 foot 4 and has always had a knack for making the big downfield play. Buffalo has an elite threat already in Stefon Diggs. However, what Buffalo lacks is a receiver of larger size. Williams is a noted jump-ball receiver who often bullies smaller corners with his size.
Coming off a year of injury directly after a down year Williams will command nowhere near the $11 million per year that he had with the Raiders. The Bills and Williams would be a good pair as Buffalo would get a good big receiver for likely less than what he is worth, and Williams gets a chance to revive his career with a top NFL passing offense. If you have any questions if this is a good option or not for Buffalo just look at this chip block that Williams had in 2018.
John Ross has been a draft bust and had an injury-riddled career. Ross has only played more than 8 games in one of his four seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals after they selected him with the 9th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Despite Ross’s shortcomings in the NFL, he still oozes potential as one of the fastest players in the NFL. Ross has had promising performances in the NFL.
- 7 Receptions, 158 Yards, 2 Touchdowns ”“ Week 1, 2019
- 4 Receptions, 112 Yards, 1 Touchdown ”“ Week 2, 2019
- 4 Touchdowns in 5 Games ”“ Weeks 7-11, 2018
Ross has tons of talents and Buffalo could easily take a chance on Ross. His speed and deep threat ability would be a strong addition to Buffalo’s receiving room. A low-risk signing because of how cheap Ross likely will be could pay off big time for Buffalo.
Chris Conley is one of the most athletic free agent wide receivers on the market. For reference Conley had a picture from the combine go viral because of his athleticism.
Conley has been a role receiver on both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Conley’s best season came in 2019 when he had 775 yards and 5 touchdowns. Conley is not expected to be a massive gamechanger and that is okay because Buffalo is not looking for that. However, as far as a depth wide receiver role there are not many players on the market who have proved for multiple years that they can do it better than Conley.
Former Buffalo Bill Zay Jones is now a free agent. He was one of the last picks former Buffalo Bills GM Doug Whaley would ever make in the NFL after he was picked 37th overall in 2017. After two and a half seasons Jones was traded to the then Oakland and now Los Angeles Raiders by Whaley’s replacement Brandon Beane for a 5th round pick. Jones never lived up to expectations in Buffalo. Jones’s best year came in 2018 when he had 56 receptions and 652 yards with 7 Touchdowns. Despite that production, there was still significant disappointment in Jones.
With severely different circumstances in Buffalo since Jones played there last this is an intriguing fit. Jones is an average receiver. However, having an average receiver as your number 4 guys is not a bad thing at all. What gives Jones good value is that he is one of the best run-blocking wide receivers in the NFL. The Bills have a mediocre run offense. So not only could Jones aid the passing game as a depth receiver, but he also could help improve the run game with his run blocking skills.
Jamal Agnew is on this list because he is one of those odd offensive players who is a running back wide receiver hybrid type, player. Matter of fact he did not even start his career as an offensive player. Agnew converted from cornerback into a return man and has started take offense snaps the past couple of years. What gives Agnew extreme value is the work he has done as a return man over the past four seasons for the Detroit Lions. With five return touchdowns in his career, 12.7 yards per punt return in 2020, and 28 yards per kick return in 2020 Agnew is one of the best returners in the game.
The Bills did have 33-year-old All-Pro returner, Andre Roberts, in 2020 but he is a free agent and will be 34 next season. Agnew is younger and has significantly more potential as a receiver than Roberts did. Although Agnew has only 105 receiving yards to his name his big-play ability is doubted by no one who has seen him ever return a kick. Agnew is the rawest player on this list but could have the biggest potential impact on the Buffalo Bills in 2021.
The Bills do not need a wide receiver. However, Brandon Beane historically will improve the team even if it is at a position of strength. Buffalo will not spend much money on a free agent receiver. There are so many under-the-radar options that Buffalo has and it would be surprising if Beane does not at least show interest in several free-agent options.