NFL free agency: wide receivers who could fit the Bills

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Just like last year, wide receiver is a position the Buffalo Bills will likely be targeting this offseason, whether through free agency or the draft.

Last year, they chose to attack the free agent market by signing John Brown and Cole Beasley. If they elect to go in the same direction when free agency begins next week, there are plenty of options available, including top-tier receivers like Amari Cooper of the Dallas Cowboys and A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals.

However, Cooper will most likely be the highest-paid free agent receiver on the market, and the Bengals are reportedly going to put the franchise tag on Green. So, those two options are most likely off the table for the Bills.

Here are some other wideouts who could fit what they’re looking for:

 

  • Robby Anderson - 27- New York Jets

After a huge sophomore season where he caught 63 passes for 941 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017, Anderson was expected to take an even bigger leap to the next level. However, he had almost identical stats each of the next two seasons, averaging 51 catches and 765 yards over 2018 and 2019, scoring a total of 11 touchdown. Those were still decent numbers, just not the kind of production many expected. The 27-year-old has the height (6-foot-3) and speed (sub-4.4 40-yard dash) that any team would like to add, especially the Bills, but it will be interesting to see what his market holds and if teams pay him based off further expectations he’s yet to reach or the consistent, yet, lower numbers that may indicate he’s hit his ceiling.

 

  • Phillip Dorsett - 27 - New England Patriots

The speedy Dorsett caught 33 passes for 528 yards his second year in the league in 2016, then was traded from the Indianapolis Colts to the Patriots for quarterback Jacoby Brissett and never reached those numbers again. Over his three years in New England, he did have a rise in production each season, tapping out at 29 catches for 397 yards and five touchdowns last year in a Patriots offense that was looking for someone to step up on the other end of Tom Brady's passes. The 27-year-old never seemed to be a good fit with the Patriots for whatever reason. A change of scenery could do him well, depending on if an offensive coordinator knows the right way to use him.

 

  • Taylor Gabriel - 29 - Chicago Bears

Gabriel was released back on Feb. 25, so he’s actually eligible to sign with any team already. He’s been on three teams in six seasons, showing huge-play ability during his rookie year with the Cleveland Browns, catching 36 passes for 621 yards for a whopping 17.3 yards per-reception. The 29-year-old had another 16.5 yards per-catch in 2016. His best season was two years ago when he caught 67 passes for 688 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Bears. But he’s also had three seasons of less than 400 yards and has never been able to out together a pair of consistent years. One intriguing thing about Gabriel is that even though he’s only 5-foot-7, he can and has played plenty on the outside as well as in the slot.

 

  • Rashard Higgins - 25 - Cleveland Browns

Higgins has shown he has talent, but wasn’t able to put it all together consistently enough in Cleveland over the last four years. Some observers feel the Browns coaching staff didn’t handle or develop the 25-year-old properly, especially with all of the changes they’ve had over his time there. Two seasons ago, he looked like he was finally starting to prove he belonged on the field on a regular basis when he caught 39 passes for 572 yards and four touchdowns, but was basically completely non-existent and forgotten about last year, catching only four passes and inactive for several games. The 6-foot-1 wideout should be cheap for any team that believes they can harness that talent on a more consistent basis.

 

  • Breshad Perriman - 26 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last season, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Perriman finally showed glimpses of why the Baltimore Ravens made him a first round pick in 2015. Things never came together for him in Baltimore in his three seasons there. He missed his entire rookie season with injuries, then struggled catching the ball and fitting into the Ravens’ offense, so they released him. He signed with the Washington Redskins, but was cut six days later, then played most of 2018 in Cleveland, where he caught only 16 passes but averaged a huge 21.3 yards per-reception. Then last year in Tampa Bay, things finally clicked for the 26-year-old. Perriman was a reliable part of a good Buccaneers passing game, catching 36 balls for 645 yards, averaging 17.9 yards a catch (fourth best in the NFL) and scoring six touchdowns. Almost all of that came in the second half of the season, but especially over the last three games when Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were injured and Perriman became the main target for quarterback Jameis Winston. In those games, Perriman caught 17 passes for 349 yards (over 20 yards a catch) and four touchdowns, topping 100 yards receiving each game, the only three games he's done that in his entire five-year career. Perriman has the fifth-highest yards per-reception (16.43) in the NFL for any receiver with at least 90 catches over the last four years, so he has a ton of big-play ability. Is he going to build upon what he did to end 2019 and finally be ready to live up to the potential that made him the 26th overall pick in the draft? That’s what every team, including the Bills, will have to decide.

 

  • Demarcus Robinson - 26 - Kansas City Chiefs 

If you’re looking for a receiver who has statistically improved each year he’s been in the league, Robinson is your man. The 26-year-old has had a nice, steady career arc so far, making his biggest jump last year when he finally had more opportunities with the Kansas City Chiefs due to injuries. There, he caught 32 passes for 449 yards and four touchdowns. With all of the weapons the Chiefs have, he’s been buried on the depth chart. So his showing last year may indicate he’s ready and talented enough to make an impact when given a more expanded role. He’d also come with the experience of playing in seven playoff games and having a Super Bowl ring. 

 
  • Emmanuel Sanders - 33 - San Francisco 49ers

Sanders is clearly the most productive receiver on this list from a career standpoint, which isn’t surprising since he is the oldest and most experienced of the group at 33. He came into the NFL as a third round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 2010 and has three 1,000-yard seasons on his resume, including a 101-catch, 1,404-yard season in 2014. There were rumors that the Bills were interested in trading for him last season when he was with the Denver Broncos, but they shipped him to San Francisco, where he had an excellent second half of the season and helped the 49ers get to the Super Bowl. Overall in 2019 with both teams, Sanders hauled in 66 passes for 869 yards and scored five touchdowns (he played 17 regular season games). He’s been very consistent throughout most of his career, failing to catch at least 60 passes only once over the last seven seasons, and at least 800 yards only once in the past six years. He ranks 11th among active players in career receiving yards (7,893) and 12th in receptions (601). The 5-foot-11 Sanders showed no signs of slowing down last year despite his age and changing teams mid-season. He can play both in the slot and on the outside.  

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