You could say the Buffalo Bills are running an on-the-fly pattern with their receiving corps. They’re reshaping it as the season rolls on.
The overhaul continued Wednesday with the signing of familiar free agent Deonte Thompson, who was on the street after being released by the Dallas Cowboys five days ago.
Thompson played 11 games for the Bills last season, catching 27 passes for 430 yards and a touchdown. He started seven of those games.
The Bills let the 29-year-old walk in free agency after the season, and he got a one-year deal and a $1 million signing bonus from Dallas. The Cowboys cut him at the end of the preseason, then brought him back. He played eight games for Dallas, catching 14 passes for 124 yards.
Thompson has speed. He ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash when he entered the NFL in 2012. That makes him the fastest man on the Bills’ roster, supplanting rookie receiver Robert Foster, who ran 4.41. But Thompson hasn’t parlayed his speed into big results.
Last year was his best NFL season. Combined with five games he played for Chicago in 2017, he finished with a career-high 38 catches.
Considering the limited production the Bills have been getting at receiver this season, Thompson could help. He gives the team another fleet option to go with Foster. Thompson had six catches of 25-plus yards for the Bills last season.
The Bills called up Foster from the practice squad last week, and he had three catches for 105 yards in the win over the New York Jets. The Bills also added second-year man Isaiah McKenzie to the receiving corps on Nov. 5. He was claimed off waivers from Denver, and he had four scrimmage touches for 46 yards vs. the Jets, plus a 21-yard punt return. McKenzie runs 4.42 in the 40.
While Thompson didn’t draw raves with the Cowboys, his release had to do with compensatory picks. By cutting him before Week 10, Dallas was able to assure itself of a fourth-round compensatory pick in the 2019 draft. That’s because he won’t count as a player added by Dallas in free agency, and the Cowboys lost enough in the last shopping season to warrant a pick, according to the NFL’s complex formula for awarding picks for a team’s net free-agency losses.
The signing leaves the Bills with 52 players, one shy of the active-roster limit.