This is the second in a series examining potential free agents at positions where the Buffalo Bills have a need.
Blame for the Buffalo Bills’ weak passing attack last season doesn’t end with insufficient quarterback play.
Tyrod Taylor has his faults, perhaps enough to prevent his return for a fourth season with the Bills. But he wasn’t the only problem, as evidenced by offensive coordinator Rick Dennison being replaced by Brian Daboll.
Taylor also needed much more help from his receivers, which is something he or his successor should expect (hope?) to get for the 2018 season.
In 2017, the story of the Bills’ pass-catching corps was more about who they lost than who they found. Trading away No. 1 target Sammy Watkins was seen as a clear case of purging for the sake of rebuilding through the draft. It provided a clean sweep of the previous top three along the free-agent departures of Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. Newcomers Zay Jones, a second-round draft pick, and Jordan Matthews, acquired via trade, had minimal impact.
This year’s free-agent market hardly has an overwhelming amount of attractive choices. It became even thinner Tuesday when the Miami Dolphins placed a franchise tag on Jarvis Landry, who led the NFL with a career-high 112 receptions and nine touchdowns last season. In four years, he has established himself as one of the most productive receivers in Dolphin history with 400 catches for 4,038 yards and 22 TDs.
That leaves the Jacksonville Jaguars' Allen Robinson, who is expected to be fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in September, as the biggest name potentially available. But there's speculation the Jaguars will make a strong effort to retain him.
After only one season with the Los Angeles Rams, Watkins could be headed for free agency, although it’s hard to imagine coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane reversing the thinking that went into shipping him out. It also might not make sense for the Rams to let him get away, given how well his deep-threat skills fit with their passing attack and Jared Goff’s big arm.
Others who figure to get some play in the open market are:
Seattle’s Paul Richardson, who showed plenty of game-breaking ability last season; Arizona’s John Brown, who has plenty of speed to stretch defenses but has struggled to stay healthy; Jacksonville’s Marqise Lee, who has good versatility but has been bothered by hamstring issues; New England's Danny Amendola had a monster offseason and picked up plenty of slack after Julian Edelman's season-ending knee injury, but could take less money to stay with the Patriots; Atlanta’s Taylor Gabriel, who showed his difference-making capacity during the Falcons’ 2016 Super Bowl run; Tennessee's Eric Decker, who is pretty much limited to beating zone coverage from the slot, but that could have value to some team; Indianapolis’ Donte Moncrief, who has yet to recapture the impressive form he showed in 2015 but remains intriguing; Kansas City's Albert Wilson, who is a solid complementary receiver in spread looks, and the New York Giants’ Tavarres King, who capitalized on injuries to the team’s other receivers last season to show he can be an effective deep threat.
"It is really fun to see him so confident now," the Associated Press quoted Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as saying about Richardson. "He has just grown so much. He has been very level-headed about it as well in his work habits and everything. His mentality has been great, but you can see the confidence is really just coming out of him."