The writing was on the wall for Isaiah McKenzie with the Buffalo Bills.
During his news conference Thursday, General Manager Brandon Beane was asked if McKenzie would be on the team for the 2023 season.
"That’s a good question," Beane said. "We're still sorting that out. Love Isaiah, he's been great for us. Yeah, we’re talking internally about making sure we don't have too much duplicates. But I think we'll know here in the next couple of days."
As it turns out, Beane needed less than a day. McKenzie was released Friday by the Bills, ahead of the team needing to pay out a $250,000 roster bonus. With the release, the Bills saved $2.217 million in cap space and take just a $300,000 dead money cap hit.
I could write a book about how much i love this place, but I’ll just say THANK YOU ❤️ https://t.co/FzrAEHDvfU— Isaiah McKenzie (@_IsaiahMcKenzie) March 17, 2023
After the Bills reached a contract agreement Wednesday with receiver Deonte Harty, McKenzie's role with the Bills going forward was in question. Harty, a 5-foot-6, 170-pounder, has a similar skill set to the 5-8, 173-pound McKenzie, which Beane referred to when he mentioned having "duplicates."
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Because McKenzie's contract will be replaced by another one in the team's top 51 – which are counted for cap purposes in the offseason – the practical savings is about $1.347 million.
McKenzie set career highs with 42 catches for 423 yards last season, but that production from the primary slot receiver in a pass-heavy offense can be considered mediocre at best. McKenzie won the team's primary slot receiver job coming out of training camp last year, but as was true throughout his time in Buffalo, it was a challenge for the team to totally count on him at times.
He was benched during the 2021 season after a costly fumble against the Colts on a kick return set up an Indianapolis score. Last season, McKenzie's drop percentage of 10.2 was 10th highest in the NFL among receivers with at least 37 targets, according to analytics website Pro Football Focus.
Nevertheless, he was a big part of the vibe in the locker room, with a fun-loving, larger-than-life personality who at one point jokingly referred to himself as the "face of the franchise."
Originally acquired by the Bills as a waiver claim from the Dever Broncos, McKenzie ultimately played in 68 career games for the Bills in the regular season, finishing with 137 catches for 1,316 yards and 11 touchdowns. Frequently, he was used as a decoy, running jet-sweep motions to keep defenses honest. He also had 46 rushing attempts for the Bills, gaining 226 yards and four touchdowns.
As a punt returner, he finished his Bills career with 35 attempts for 322 yards and one touchdown and as a kick returner he had 47 attempts for 1,062 yards.
McKenzie also played in seven posteason games, finishing with 13 catches for 95 yards and one touchdown and eight rushes for 53 yards.
A reunion with former Bills offensive coordinator and current Giants head coach Brian Daboll should not be out of the question.
"I could write a book about how much I love this place, but I'll just say THANK YOU," McKenzie wrote on Twitter after his release.