Whoever is under center Week 1 will have a tough time moving the ball down the field if the Buffalo Bills don’t address the wide receiver position.
Brandon Marshall was arguably the next best receiver next to Dez Bryant on the open market, and with one of the more prominent names from the free agent wide receiver pool taking a dip into Seattle, Buffalo’s list of viable pass catchers to sign is shrinking.
Whoever is playing quarterback in Week 1 will have a tough time moving the ball down the field if the Buffalo Bills don’t seek upgrades at the receiver position by training camp. Kelvin Benjamin is a nice piece, but there are question marks everywhere else. Heck, even Benjamin’s health could become a concern.
Let’s first take a look at who the Bills do have on the current roster.
The second-year wideout had a bit of a disappointing first season in the NFL last year nabbing just 27 catches for 316 yards and two scores. Couple that with the troubling offseason situation he had a couple of months ago with his brother in a Los Angeles hotel, and he can’t be relied on to be a top target for Coach Daboll.
The fact that Holmes is still around is a testament to how bleak the position group is. The 30-year-old had 13 receptions for 120 yards in 14 games last season and ended the year on injured reserve. Granted, he did score on three of those 13 catches.
Streater comes back after missing the entire 2017 season with a leg injury he sustained in the preseason. He was looking pretty good before the injury, but at 30-years-of-age I’m not sure what he has left in the tank. Plus, it’s been five years since he’s been productive in the league.
This is a player Bills fans know a lot because of the six years he spent with the New York Jets. He’s played seven years in the league and has surpassed 700 yards once, and has never scored more than three touchdowns in a season. Though he does provide sure-handedness with an 88 percent catch rate in 2017 with just one drop on 25 targets. He also provides flexibility in the return game which will probably put him over on a couple other options during cutting season.
The Bills aren’t quite sure what they have yet in the two drafted wideouts Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl, and then last year’s undrafted free agent Brandon Reilly could get a shot to stick this season. But these three are not guys I would bank on making an impact opposite Benjamin.
Now, there is always the chance that anyone on this list above will surpass expectations and becomes a legitimate top-end wide-receiver. But in case that doesn’t happen, Buffalo will need some more help.
So as you can see, there is a screaming need to upgrade the position and here are a few names still on the market.
I don’t think much convincing needs to be done here. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler with nearly 7,500 yards receiving and 73 career touchdowns. Production has dropped off since his 1,300-yard, 16 touchdown season in 2014, but he’s still a capable wideout and would give the Bills two big red-zone targets.
It’s been widely documented that Bryant wants a one-year “prove it” deal and Buffalo is one of a few teams with the cap room to give it to him.
The fact that Eric Decker is still on the market surprises me a bit.
Sure, he’s 31, but he proved to be healthy enough to play all 16 games last season with some success. He’s coming off a 54-catch, 563-yard campaign, which would have made him the team leader in yardage, and second in receptions behind LeSean McCoy.
On top of that, he’s been fairly consistent over his career. Decker has posted double-digit touchdown seasons three times and recorded at least 80 catches and over 1,000 yards receiving in those years.
He may not be the same as he once was, but he would surely be an upgrade over the current bunch of candidates.
This player isn’t a household name, and it took him a while to get established in the league. Inman’s 2016 season transformed his career. He became a top target for Philip Rivers in San Diego (this was before the move) when he amassed 58 catches, 810 yards and four touchdowns. These aren’t Pro Bowl numbers like with the first two options, but still a quality year for the 2011 undrafted free agent.
He’s got good size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and can stretch the field. Inman averages 13.8 yards-per-catch over the course of his career.
If Bryant and Decker aren’t willing to test the Buffalo tundra, maybe the guy at the top of tier two will come north.
The former first-rounder has had been productive over his nine-year career. Maclin had at least 800 yards and 60+ catches in each of his first six seasons in the NFL. His production has tailed off the last two years barely getting to the 40 and 400 club. His days as a top-flight receiver are over, but as a role player, Maclin could be a decent fit with the Bills.
At this point in free agency, it’s mainly old vets looking to stick to continue their career, but Floyd is the youngest of the bunch.
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Coming out of the draft there were high hopes Floyd could turn into a number one receiver in Arizona but it never materialized due to his off-field antics. The Cardinals elected to cut the former first rounder in 2015 after being arrested for a DUI. He spent the first four games suspended in 2017 as well for violating his probation agreement.
On the field, however, Floyd showed good promise his first couple years in the league. In his sophomore season, he eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark and posted a career-high 65 catches.
He failed to live up to the hype after this breakout year and the off-field distraction wasn’t worth the trouble.
He found his way onto the 2016 Super Bowl winning Patriots where Brian Daboll was an offensive assistant and tight ends coach.
Floyd has talent and is still young enough to be productive in this league. With his combination of size, weight and speed, Floyd could be worth taking a flyer on if he can stay clean and lay off the booze.
As the depth chart sits right now, LeSean McCoy should be gearing up to shoulder the load once again this year. But if the Bills want to help AJ McCarron, Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen to succeed this season, the receiving corps needs a talent injection.
Who do you think the Bills should sign at wide receiver?