Buffalo Bills roster analysis: Wide receiver

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Nick Wojton
·4 min read
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The Buffalo Bills had an excellent 2020 season as a team, but position-by-position is a different story. Some were better than others and as the offseason is now in full swing, Bills Wire will give a quick analysis of the team’s current roster by reflecting on the season that was and looking ahead to 2021.

Next up, here is our breakdown on the team’s wide receiver unit:

Contract statuses

Bills wide receiver John Brown. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Signed for 2021:
  • Stefon Diggs: $12.3M cap hit ($6M dead cap)

  • John Brown: $9.5M ($1.6M dead cap)

  • Cole Beasley $7.4M cap hit ($3M cap hit)

  • Gabriel Davis $954.8K cap hit ($523.5K dead cap)

  • Jake Kumerow: $920K cap hit ($0 dead cap)

  • Duke Williams: $850K cap hit ($0 dead cap)

  • Isaiah Hodgins: $819.7K cap hit ($199.1K dead cap)

  • Tanner Gentry: $780K ($0 dead cap hit)

Pending free agents & 2020 contract:

Player-by-player 2020 review

Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis. (AP Photo/John Munson)

Player (age):

Diggs (27): Statistically speaking, the best wide receiver in the NFL. Stats: 127 catches, 1,535 yards, 8 TDs Brown (30): After a 1,000-yard season in 2019, his first year in Buffalo, many expected Brown to double-down on production with Diggs across from him. Instead, injuries held him to only nine games. Stats: 33 catches, 458 yards, 3 TDs Beasley (31): Like Diggs, a massive season. As a slot receiver, Beasley was the NFL's best in that role. It helped him earn second-team, All-Pro status. Stats: 82 catches, 967 yards, 4 TDs Davis (21): Not always consistent, but Davis was impressive as a mid-round rookie selection. He certainly did much better than other wideouts the Bills drafted in recent memory and Davis had a knack for finding the end zone and toe-tapping the sideline. The future looks bright. Stats: 35 catches, 599 yards, 7 TDs Kumerow (29): Kumerow appeared in six games for the Bills, mostly as a special teamer. That made well for a trick play, of sorts... No one thought Kumerow would be a target for quarterback Josh Allen running up the seam late in the year, but he was, and scored a touchdown on his only catch. Stats: 1 catch, 22 yards, TD Williams (28): Williams did not not get an opportunity on offense in 2020 like he did his first season with Buffalo. He appeared in one game, recording no stats. Stats: N/A Hodgins (22): Buffalo's other rookie wide receiver spent the entire season on injured reserve. Stats: N/A Gentry (26): Previously a college teammate of Allen, Gentry only signed with the Bills after their season ended via a reserve/ futures contract. Stats: N/A Roberts (32): When signing in Buffalo prior to 2019, Roberts indicated he would like an opportunity to show he can be an impactful player on offense. He hasn't gotten that chance with the Bills, though. In two seasons, he's been limited to return duties mostly but it's an area he excels in. Stats: 4 catches, 34 yards McKenzie (25): Buffalo's go-to gadget player, McKenzie had career-high receiving numbers... pretty much across the board. He also did things like throw a touchdown pass and take a punt return for a score. Stats: 30 catches, 282 yards, 5 TDs

2021 outlook

Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

On paper, it looks like Buffalo's wide receiver room is cut-and-dry... good to go in 2021. It was their best position group on the team and plenty of guys are still going to be under contract. But there's a lot going on below the surface. Starting at the top, Diggs will be back as perhaps the best the NFL has to offer. Behind him in Brown and Beasley are two guys that might be cap causalities leading to them being cut to make salary cap space. Brown is much more likely to be released, while Beasley could have his contract reconstructed. That could very well be on the table for Brown as well. Davis might play a part here, that is, if the Bills think he's a No. 2 wide receiver behind Diggs. That might make Brown expendable. Hodgins also will have his "rookie" season in 2021, so those two young guys, in one way or another, will be around again. Roberts and McKenzie are a bit of a storyline on their own. Roberts is the return man ace for Buffalo while McKenzie does gadget things other guys on the offense just don't do. Can the Bills get both of them back under the lowered salary cap due to COVID-19?? Big decision there for Brandon Beane. Training camp position battles will also play out between Gentry, Williams, and Kumerow for roster spots that will also require them to help out on special teams as well. There's a lot to unpack with the unit during the offseason. But hey... as mentioned, Diggs will be back and that's a massive bright spot.

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