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Wideout remains one of few unchecked boxes for Bills

The Buffalo Bills patiently are waiting to address their glaring need at wide receiver so far this free-agency season.

The Bills saw one of their depth options at wideout disappear Thursday when free-agent Deonte Thompson signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

Bills General Manager Brandon Beane methodically has picked off a lot of need positions to one degree or another over the past three weeks.

The Bills have made big splashes with the three defensive-line signings of Star Lotulelei, Trent Murphy and Kyle Williams. They added a starting cornerback in Vontae Davis, a prominent backup running back in Chris Ivory, and a QB option in AJ McCarron. They've also signed two linebackers, a safety, a center, an offensive tackle and two other backup running backs.

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All of that action leaves receiver as the No. 2 question-mark position on the team, behind starting quarterback.

The pool of quality starting receivers in free agency was not deep this year. The pool of receiver talent in the draft is not so great in the first round but looks good for the second to fourth or fifth rounds.

Expect the Bills to see what value they can get at receiver as the free-agency season lingers on.

Thompson, who caught 27 passes in 11 games for the Bills last season, agreed to a one-year contract with Dallas. The value reportedly was $2.5 million, with a $1 million signing bonus. Last season, Thompson made $855,000, which was split between Buffalo and Chicago, where he spent the first five weeks of the season.

The 29-year-old is a backup speed receiver who the Bills likely would have brought back at the right price. His catch total tied with Zay Jones for most among Bills wideouts, and he had a team-best 15.6 yards per catch. The fact they let Thompson linger on the market for eight days and signed seven other free agents first over that span shows they were not desperate to bring him back.

Top Bills wideout Kelvin Benjamin had meniscus surgery in his knee after the season but is expected to be ready for workouts in April. The prospective No. 2 wideout, Jones, was arrested in Los Angeles Monday for felony vandalism.

The next best wideout currently on the roster is Andre Holmes, who had 13 catches last season. Also on the roster are Brandon Reilly, Rod Streater, Quan Bray, Malachi Dupre.

Other Bills from last season still on the free-agent market are Jordan Matthews, Brandon Tate and Jeremy Butler. Brice Butler, Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Sammie Coats are some of the other lower-priced veterans still on the market.

The Bills completed just 115 passes to wide receivers, last in the league this year and the lowest total in the NFL in the last eight seasons.

Meanwhile, Bills free-agent cornerback E.J. Gaines visited the New York Jets Thursday. He met with Arizona last week and was scheduled to meet with the Cleveland Browns Friday, according to the NFL Network.

Gaines chances of staying with the Bills realistically ended when Buffalo instead signed veteran free-agent Vontae Davis, who is projected to start opposite Tre'Davious White.

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