What is the Buffalo Bills' biggest need this off-season? This community says it's neck-and-neck between defensive tackle and wide receiver; needless to say, there are a huge amount of Bills fans who would like nothing more to see the Bills add a wide receiver this off-season.
Perhaps the most speculated-about potential wideout signing is Bryant Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals. The former Penn State star is a former first-round pick with loads of talent, but he's been stuck working as a backup behind two excellent Cardinals receivers in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. He has all the tools of a potentially elite threat, but a combination of being buried on the depth chart and some inconsistency have kept him in his reserve role. Still, his potential is high enough to make him one of the hottest names when it comes to free agent receivers. It may take a rather large contract to lure Johnson away from other potential starting roles.
The Big Red Sheet's Take
Jeff Gollin, a long-time friend of SB Nation and who has helped us with Cardinals information in the past, is the administrator of a Cardinals site called The Big Reed Sheet. He was very quick in getting back to us about Johnson; he's seen Johnson's career unfold from a far closer perspective than we can muster, making his information invaluable:
Clearly, the Cardinals have a lot invested at the wide receiver position. Have there been any indications that the club would like to keep Johnson?
They would, but the feeling is that we'll have to let him test the market and he may find a more attractive offer than we can afford to make.
Johnson was a first-round draft pick but was passed on the depth chart by Anquan Boldin and a younger Larry Fitzgerald. Is he starting material behind better talent, or is he best suited to what his role was in Arizona?
He's big and physical and sometimes will make the clutch catch, but lacks the consistency to be a really good #1 or #2 receiver.
What does Johnson do best (i.e. route-running, deep threat, etc.)? What areas does he need to work on?
He's more of a big, physical route runner than he is a burner. He needs to be more consistent - i.e. he needs to make a higher percentage of big plays when called upon.
There are pros to Johnson's game. I like the fact that he's had starting experience (he started eight games last year while Boldin was injured), and he's been semi-productive (career high: 49 receptions) as the Cardinals' third option. He's big, quick enough to get open, and can make clutch plays. I just don't know if he's explosive enough to throw big money at.
I'll concede that Johnson is a very talented receiver with the size (6'3", 216) that the Bills would like to incorporate into their offense. I just haven't been sold on his being the answer to the Bills' #2 wideout problem, let alone his being the top option available. He's young and has plenty of room to improve, but Jeff's comments about his inconsistency are reinforcing my original belief. I certainly would not mind the Bills signing Johnson - because I think his skills complement Lee Evans' extremely well - I just hope the Bills don't try to out-spend a more desperate team for his services. With other options (Wilford, Hackett) available, Johnson certainly isn't the only answer to the Bills' question marks at wideout. I'm sure many of you have differing opinions, however.
I'd love to hear your thoughts not only on Johnson and his impending free agency, but how you'd like to see these bios/interviews structured as we move forward. Be sure to check out our free agent database, a one-stop shop where you can track all of these interviews. Have at it, folks.