Report: Cole Beasley gets Buffalo Bills' permission to seek a trade

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INDIANAPOLIS - According to a report from NFL Network reporter Mike Garofolo, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley asked for permission for he and his agent to seek a trade, and the team said go for it.

If a trade partner can be found for the soon-to-be 33-year-old, it most likely will not bring back a player to replace Beasley as the Bills’ slot receiver. The compensation would almost certainly be in a draft pick or two, and probably nothing higher than perhaps a fourth-round pick.

Garofolo’s report did indicate that if Beasley isn’t traded, the door would remain open for a possible return to Buffalo.

General manager Brandon Beane said immediately after the Bills’ loss to Kansas City in the playoffs that he expected Beasley would be back with the team to play out the final season of the four-year free agent contract he signed in 2019.

But there was one comment that hinted at a possible parting of the ways when he said, “Cole can still play and he’ll continue to play in this league.”

Read between the lines there, and that wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for bringing Beasley back in 2022.

Bills receiver Cole Beasley  gains yardage after a catch.
Bills receiver Cole Beasley gains yardage after a catch.

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Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Beane was asked again about Beasley and he indicated that nothing had changed in his viewpoint.

“I haven’t really spoken to Cole personally or anything liker that,” Beane said. “We’ll just take it day by day. We are going to have some tough decisions to make across the roster, whether they’re straight cuts, restructures, extensions. We’re going to look at a lot of areas with these guys as we move forward.”

Beasley, of course, was already under the microscope as a potential salary cap release because the Bills would save $6.1 million and would only have to eat a dead cap hit of $1.5 million.

Another option, as Beane said, would be an extension of his deal so that the Bills could lessen the cap hit for 2022. However, Beane also made a comment that he doesn’t like to rely too heavily on extensions or restructures - something he had to do with a few player contracts last season because of the reduced salary cap due to the pandemic - because it can create problems down the line.

“The restructure is kicking the can down the road,” he said. “It’s a necessary piece to operate and stay competitive, but the more you do it, the more money you kick down the road. A dollar you save today is a dollar you pay tomorrow. It’s truly the credit card philosophy, you’re just pushing it off.”

And to do it with a player who will be 33 in April, who while catching 82 passes in 2021, averaged three yards fewer per reception, doesn’t seem like a prudent move.

Thus, it was an easy decision for the Bills to allow Beasley to pursue a trade because they would get something in return.

“We gotta be creative, but cap strength is very important to me,” Beane said. “As much as I can avoid that, I can make it easier every year. I think our chance to have sustained success, the words we use around here, is to not get into the pattern where you know what, we’re just gonna restructure five guys this year, seven guys this year, and we’ll just keep kicking it down the road.”

Beasley has undoubtedly been a productive player for the Bills, and even as he has slowed down a bit, he was someone Josh Allen relied heavily on. In his three seasons in Buffalo, Beasley has 231 receptions for 2,438 yards and 11 touchdowns and another 25 catches for 268 yards in the postseason.

Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley hangs on to the ball in the second half.
Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley hangs on to the ball in the second half.

Last year, he became the face of the anti-vaccine crowd among NFL players, arguing vehemently about what he deemed were unfair COVID-19 protocols set in place by the NFL. Beasley ultimately tested positive and missed the Dec. 26 game at New England as a result.

That was the day Isaiah McKenzie filled in as the slot receiver and played the game of his career, catching 11 passes for 125 yards. McKenzie is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and one of the key decisions the Bills have will be whether to try to re-sign him.

If Beasley gets traded, bringing McKenzie back would become more of a priority for the Bills.

“Sometimes Isaiah, when he got his chances, he made plays,” Beane said. “I think that kind of took Cole out of the game sometimes just for our running stuff and as we got our running game going a little bit down the stretch, we just felt Isaiah really helped that because the stuff behind the line of scrimmage is harder for these linebackers or whoever the safety coming down to read, and it’s not a way we would use Cole.

Sal Maiorana can be reached at maiorana@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Buffalo Bills grant Cole Beasley permission to seek a trade