The Buffalo Bills needed a deep threat for strong-armed quarterback Josh Allen, and it appears they’ve found one. They also got some help underneath, too.
The Bills reportedly will sign wide receiver John Brown to a three-year, $27 million deal, as first reported by Stadium’s Adam Caplan.
They also have reportedly secured a commitment from slot receiver Cole Beasley from the Dallas Cowboys once free agency officially begins. The money is notable, too: four years and $29 million, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
The Cowboys wanted Beasley back, per Garafolo, but the money got beyond what they wanted to spend. And with a few signings, the Bills now have reshaped their receiver room in a big way with two smaller wideouts.
Brown spent last season with the Baltimore Ravens. Despite a slow finish, it was a comeback season for Brown after a few injury-riddled seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. In his one season with the Ravens, Brown caught 42 passes for 715 yards and five touchdowns after barely surpassing those numbers in the previous two seasons combined in Arizona.
Interestingly, the Bills offered Brown a three-year deal a year ago in free agency, which is turned down for the one-year contract in Baltimore.
What it means for the Bills
Allen clearly was dealing with a short deck last season, often dumping off to LeSean McCoy or throwing to second-year receiver Zay Jones, who at least showed improvement after a poor rookie season riddled with drops and distractions.
Now they have a decent top four at receiver with Jones, Brown, Beasley and Robert Foster, who was a surprise performer as an undrafted rookie a year ago. Still, none of them have been a No. 1 target in the NFL before.
But when you step back and look at these moves on the whole — and we figure the Bills are not done adding offensive talent this offseason — it’s starting to look at lot like what the Los Angeles Rams did for Jared Goff and the Chicago Bears did for Mitch Trubisky before their respective second seasons, adding serious depth among the pass catchers.
That could pay off in spades for Allen, who flashed at times as a rookie but who also struggled with consistency. Throw in the signing of running back Frank Gore and center Mitch Morse, and the Bills’ offense is going to look a lot different in 2019.
What it means for the Cowboys
Losing Beasley hurts, but it can’t be considered a shock either. We suspected Beasley would have a fairly robust market, having carved out a valuable role as Dallas’ slot receiver the past few seasons with 140 catches combined in Dak Prescott’s first two seasons as starting QB.
Beasley turns 30 next month, so we can understand why the Cowboys might not have viewed him as worth the four-year investment the Bills made. But Beasley has been very reliable — one missed game in five seasons — and will be tricky to replace in that offense.
Tavon Austin has managed to stick around, and he could be in line for more work. But the Cowboys, who lack a first-round pick from the Amari Cooper trade, likely will need to draft more depth at the position, even after landing Cooper and drafting Michael Gallup in Round 3 a year ago.
What it means for the Ravens
It’s yet another loss in free agency, this one on the offensive side of the ball. They already have allowed four defensive starters to walk in free agency, and losing Brown now means that Baltimore will have to replenish its pass-catching group for a second straight season.
A year ago, the Ravens had to replace a total of 332 targets from the 2017 season. And now with Michael Crabtree and Brown gone, the team’s two most-targeted receivers — with 100 and 97, respectively — will be elsewhere.
Lamar Jackson clearly is going to lead a run-heavy, tight end-dependent offense this coming season. But Baltimore is going to have to give him more weaponry on the outside at some point.
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