All-Pro return specialist Andre Roberts knows his role with the Buffalo Bills, but he wants to add to it.
After nine seasons in the NFL on six different teams, receiver Andre Roberts knows his role well. He’s a return ace, on both punt and kick returns; he did so well in this area in 2018 with the New York Jets that he was named an All-Pro and Pro Bowler. The Buffalo Bills then saw the value of adding a return specialist, as they signed Roberts to a two year, $4.6 million deal in 2019 free agency.
Despite coming off an All-Pro season — in which he led the NFL in average yards per punt return, punt return touchdowns, kick return yards, and kick return touchdowns — Roberts doesn’t expect to have a significant role as a receiver with the Bills. The 31-year-old figures Buffalo brought him in to do what he’s done all his career as a returner, as he said on WGR 550;
"I think the reason why Buffalo brought me in is the role for special teams that they want me to be a factor in the return game."
However, Roberts isn’t resting on his laurels: he’s looking to find a role as a true receiver. The last time he was used in this capacity regularly was in 2014, in Washington, when he caught 36 passes for 453 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Since he’s tallied 36 receptions for 414 yards and two scores. Despite a lack of production in this area, he’s making a push to run routes on Sundays:
"Of course I want to play as much receiver as I can. Our offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, receivers coach Chad Hall and everybody knows that."
Roberts made some noise during organized team activities (OTAs) and mandatory mini-camp as a receiver. Due to injuries at the position, the Bills slotted Roberts with the first-team. However, it would be a surprise to see him take snaps from a receiver itching for playing time, such as Zay Jones, Robert Foster, John Brown, and Cole Beasley.
Roberts is a lock to make the roster as a returner — the Bills gave him a top-heavy guaranteed contract, per Over The Cap — but it may be just that. Though the All-Pro is longing for the opportunity to play receiver, the Bills must utilize their new-found abundance of depth at the position. Hopefully Roberts can crack the rotation and be a part of the answer to a receiving-needy offense.