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January 1, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Derek Hagan (80) is tackled during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Can Bills WR Derek Hagan Have a Breakout Season?


If there’s one position that the Bills don’t lack for numbers, it is wide receiver. Buffalo currently has a whopping 11 receivers on that roster – and that’s not including QB/WR Brad Smith. Among those 11 receivers are one superstar (Stevie Johnson), one veteran who is a lock to make the team (David Nelson), and one rookie who is a near-lock to make the roster (T.J. Graham). After that, it’s going to be a fight for the two or three remaining roster spots between some NFL veterans (Derek Hagan, David Clowney, Donald Jones, Ruvell Martin, Naaman Roosevelt) and some interesting young players (Marcus Easley, Kamar Aiken, Derek Session).

One guy who is coming in a bit under the radar is Hagan. The seventh-year man from Arizona State has bounced around the league a bit, spending time with the Dolphins, Giants, and Raiders before finding his way to Buffalo late last season. Hagan only got the chance because the Buffalo WR corps was decimated by injury, but he made the most of the opportunity with the Bills, racking up 13 catches for 138 yards and a TD in just four games, only one of which came as a starter. Hagan’s numbers don’t tell the whole story – at least twice he beat the opposing defenses deep for sure touchdowns only to have Ryan Fitzpatrick miss the throw.

Hagan was a free agent this offseason, but the Bills made sure to snap him back up. In a recent interview, Hagan said the choice to return to Western New York was a no-brainer: “I re-signed because I felt really comfortable with this team and city… and when you’ve got a city like Buffalo showing a lot of love and support, it was a no-brainer to return because we have a lot of unfinished business to handle this season!”

Hagan’s never really had a big year in the NFL – his best was a 29-catch, 373 yard, 2 TD effort in 2007 – so maybe it’s silly to think he can really make a big impact. But there’s no doubting that Hagan really took to Chan Gailey’s offense very quickly, and he clearly earned the trust of Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’s also obvious he has the speed to get downfield and maybe provide a deep threat that this team sorely lacks. Hagan and Fitzpatrick have already hooked up for at least one big play during OTAs so far.

Perhaps it is all a pipe dream and Hagan won’t even survive training camp without getting cut. But he’s a guy worth looking for as training camp and the preseason progress.

 

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