Cole Beasley

Bills Release Cole Beasley

In an expected move, the Bills are moving on from one of the most experienced pieces of their offense. The team announced they have released receiver Cole Beasley

[RELATED: Bills, Von Miller Agree To Deal]

Beasley, 32, started his career in Dallas in 2012; he joined the team as a UDFA. In seven seasons there, he established himself as a productive secondary option in the team’s passing attack. His best season there came in 2016, where he posted 75 catches for 833 yards and five touchdowns.

Having built a reputation as one of the league’s best slot receivers, he signed a four-year, $29MM deal with the Bills in 2019. He received no less than 106 targets in each of his three campaigns in Buffalo, setting new career highs in receptions (82), yards (967) and yards per catch (11.8) in 2020.

However, he was due to make $6.1MM in 2022, with a cap hit of just over $7.5MM. That led the team to allow him to seek a trade earlier this week. Obviously, a partner couldn’t be found, so the SMU product will now hit the open market. The Bills still have Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie at the top of the WR depth chart. They also have Dawson Knox and the recently-acquired O.J. Howard at the tight end spot.

The move saves the Bills just over $6MM. Given the money invested in their new additions – most notably Von Miller – they could certainly use the cap relief. For Beasley, meanwhile, he will join a free agent WR class still featuring Allen Robinson, but also another veteran slot option in Jarvis Landry.

Bills Re-Sign WR Isaiah McKenzie

The Bills have agreed to terms on a new two-year contract with wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The deal is reportedly worth $8MM, the biggest payday McKenzie has seen in his five-year career. 

McKenzie was picked up by the Bills off waivers after being waived by the Broncos, who drafted him in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After finishing out that initial contract in Buffalo, he rode out two one-year deals in 2020 and 2021 worth around $1MM each.

His first year in Buffalo saw him used as the primary kick returner and a bit of a gadget player on offense, receiving and helping out in the rushing game after injuries to running backs LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory. In his first full season as a Bill, his returner role was diminished with the addition of Andre Roberts, but he continued as a special teamer and gadget player, even contributing in Week 17 as a reserve cornerback.

After re-signing on his first one-year deal in Buffalo, McKenzie saw his most productive season in 2020. McKenzie saw career highs in receptions (30), receiving yards (282), and receiving touchdowns (5). He also recorded his first special teams touchdown on an 84-yard punt return.

The 2021 NFL season didn’t see a large change in McKenzie’s offensive production, but he re-cemented his role as the team’s return specialist, which appears to be the basis for his new contract. McKenzie did see his role on the offense increase a bit when Cole Beasley missed time due to COVID-19.

With star-receiver Stefon Diggs and Beasley set to return, along with Gabriel Davis who emerged as the team’s third receiver for the future, this signing gives the Bills a solid one through four in their receiving corps, with McKenzie set to continue handling return duties.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Jets, Douglas, Jackson

On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul made comments that all but guaranteed that an agreement for a new stadium for the Bills will be made soon, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Highmark Stadium (previously Rich Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium, and New Era Field) has been the home of the Bills since 1973. The Bills’ current lease on Highmark expires in 2023 and the franchise has been pushing with many government entities to build them a shiny, new stadium. The team has used the very real looming threat that there are plenty of other markets in the country that can support an NFL franchise.

Hochul commented on that threat saying, “That’s why we’re negotiating very intently, to make sure we have the right outcome for this community.” The new stadium will partially be funded by the public to the tune of about $850MM. The Governor claims that a deal will be done by April 1, in time for the annual budget.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple of notes that keep us in the Empire State:

  • The Jets are planning to use this offseason to add some weapons to the roster for quarterback Zach Wilson. They currently have Corey Davis and Elijah Moore sitting atop the depth chart. They would love to bring back Braxton Berrios as a fourth-receiver/gadget player and they haven’t yet given up on Denzel Mims. Still, New York will have ample opportunity to add a potential No. 1 receiver to the roster, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. The free agent market is home to many household names like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Mike Williams, and, potentially, Amari Cooper. Players like Calvin Ridley and Cole Beasley have been rumored to be available via trade. The 2022 NFL Draft is also so rich in talented receivers that many believe some first round talent could fall to the second round where the Jets have two high picks, if they don’t choose to take a top prospect like Garrett Wilson or Drake London with the 10th overall pick.
  • That being said, Vacchiano also reports that, despite their vast spending ability, general manager Joe Douglas has been preaching the maintenance of financial flexibility. Though the Jets rank in the Top 5 in the NFL in salary cap space, Douglas rejected the notion that their $50-60MM in cap space will be dedicated to big spending in free agency. Douglas acknowledged free agency as just one of “a lot of different tools to improve your roster” and pointed to the Bengals as an example of responsible free agent spending. “I think Cincy did great in free agency last year,” he said. “They didn’t blow the doors off in terms of signing super high-priced guys. They brought in guys who fit exactly what they wanted to do.”
  • According to Mike Giardi of NFL Network, Patriots’ cornerback JC Jackson is likely headed for free agency with some lofty expectations. While Jackson still likes the Patriots, money is a big factor for the 26-year-old. Giardi claims that Jackson is strictly seeking compensation similar to Jalen Ramsey. New England won’t bring that money to the table and it sounds like they won’t be utilizing their franchise tag on Jackson, either. That information could lead to a tag and trade situation if other teams aren’t willing to shell out for Jackson in free agency.

Bills Permit Cole Beasley To Seek Trade

Cole Beasley could be on his way out of Buffalo. The Bills have granted the wide receiver permission to seek a new club (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo), paving the way for a potential trade. 

[RELATED: Latest On Trubisky’s Market]

Neither side has offered further comment on the matter, though Beasley and the team reportedly clashed throughout the year. Beasley, who will turn 33 on April 26th, was still productive in 2021 with 82 catches for 693 yards and one touchdown. He also managed 82 catches in 2020, though that was a more efficient campaign — his 82/967 line averaged out to a career-high 11.8 yards per grab. Last year, he had just 8.5 yards per reception, tying his career low.

Beasley has one year to go on his four-year, $29MM pact. As it stands, he’s set to count for $7.6MM against the Bills’ books, but a trade or release would leave the team with just $1.5MM in dead money versus $6.1MM in savings.

That’s a decent chunk of change, one that could be put towards larger expenditures like Rob Gronkowski. The Bills are reportedly interested in signing the 32-year-old as a free agent and he may be open to a move following Tom Brady‘s retirement. It also helps that Gronk is a Buffalo-area native who grew up as a Bills fan. Gronkowski, 32, managed 55 catches for 802 yards last year despite missing five games while injured.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/21/21

Once again, we’ve had a busy day of moves on and off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Here are the players who were placed on the list or activated off of it today:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Dalton Keene (remains on IR)

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Washington Football Team

Bills Place WR Beasley On COVID-19 List

Cole Beasley was placed on the Bills’ Reserve/COVID-19 list today according to a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The slew of moves to and from the Reserve/COVID-19 list has been dizzying as the omicron variant makes its way through the league. What makes Beasley’s case significant is not only his impact as the second leading receiver in Buffalo, but also his status as an unvaccinated player in the NFL.

A vaccinated player who tests positive and is asymptomatic will be isolated and contact tracing will occur, same as an unvaccinated player. The rules for returning are different.

According to the original protocol, a vaccinated player would be permitted to return from a positive test when he returns two negative tests that occur at least 24-hours apart. The new protocol provides a series of new combinations of single negative tests and cycle threshold readings that could potentially return a player as early as one day after a positive test. After that, the player will be tested every week, unless otherwise directed by medical staff. An unvaccinated player who tests positive will be isolated for a period of 10 days and permitted to return if asymptomatic. The unvaccinated player will continue with the unvaccinated protocol of being tested everyday upon their return.

As one of the more outspoken unvaccinated players, we now know that if Beasley was placed on the list for a positive test, as opposed to having had close contact with an infected individual, he will miss the Bills’ upcoming game in Foxborough. I don’t know the specifics of how strict the five-day quarantine period is for if he was placed on the list merely for having close contact, and if that could potentially allow him to return on the fifth day and play, but it’s possible that being unvaccinated will cause Beasley to miss this weekend’s game regardless.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/24/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here. Teams had until 3pm today to cut their rosters down to 80 players.

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

  • Waived: QB Kenji Bahar

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: OT Casey Tucker

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: K Ryan Succop
  • Waived/injured: OT Chidi Okeke

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

WR Kenny Stills Expected To Sign With Bills

After auditioning for the Bills earlier this week, veteran wideout Kenny Stills will be joining the team. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that Stills is planning to sign with Buffalo. The receiver will start undergoing COVID-19 testing, and “the team hopes he can start practicing as soon as next week.”

A part of the Laremy Tunsil/Dolphins trade, Stills was solid during his first season in Houston, and he appeared in both of the Texans playoff contests. However, the 28-year-old was cut by the Texans back in November after hauling in only 11 receptions in his 10 appearances. Between the 2016 and 2019 campaigns, Stills averaged 44 receptions for 672 yards and six touchdowns per season, so there’s a good chance he still has something left in the tank.

While John Brown is set to return to the lineup following a lengthy absence, fellow Bills wideout Cole Beasley suffered a knee injury during the Bills’ Week 16 win over the Patriots. Head coach Sean McDermott described the injury as “week-to-week” (per ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques), and the wideout has already been ruled out for tomorrow’s regular season finale.

McDermott also said the team’s interest in Stills wasn’t related to the Beasley injury, meaning the veteran addition could end up playing a role alongside Brown, Beasley, and top receiver Stefon Diggs. Wideout Gabriel Davis and return man Andre Roberts seem to also have secure roles in Buffalo, but the Stills signing could end up pushing the likes of Isaiah McKenzie off the roster.

Cowboys Notes: Beasley, Garrett, Maher

Former Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley had a bumpy tenure with the team. Beasley was a fan favorite in Dallas from 2012-2018, but became frustrated with the team when his role did not expand to the degree he thought it should. After signing with the Bills this offseason, Beasley got to exert his revenge in Buffalo’s 26-15 victory in Dallas on Thursday.

In the postgame celebration of Buffalo’s Thanksgiving day victory, Beasley told reporters that he felt “disrespected” in Dallas and felt that they disrespected him again in his return, according to Angel Franco of The Dallas Morning News. Beasley caught six passes for 110 receiving yards and a touchdown against his former team.

Here’s some more Cowboys notes:

  • Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones ripped his coaching staff after last week’s loss to the Patriots. After an even more disappointing loss to Buffalo on Thursday, all eyes were on the maverick owner to see if he would once again criticize his coaching staff. While Jones was not full of praise, he tried to calm the flames around the team by saying he will not make any coaching moves during the season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. This does not remove the pressure on head coach Jason Garrett to make a deep playoff run, but should make it easier to focus on the upcoming schedule.
  • Cowboys placekicker Brett Maher is in the midst of a massive sophomore slump. After an impressive rookie season that included 6 makes on 7 attempts from at least 50 yards, the Nebraska product has made just 67.9% of his field goal attempts in 2019. While special teams has been a huge problem for the Cowboys, they will not be making a change at kicker, according to Jon Machota of The Athletic. Maher has yet to miss an extra point on the season and remains 14 of 16 inside 40 yards, but will surely hope to improve his accuracy from deeper range during the rest of the season.