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State of the Bills Roster: Wide Receivers, post-T.O.

Owens changes entire offensive outlook (TV Guide)

Still trying to erase the shock from your brain now that Terrell Owens is a Buffalo Bill?  Don't worry.  We're right there with you.

Back in the very early portions of January, we took a look at the Bills' receiver position in our State of the Roster series.  Needless to say, when you add someone with the on-field impact of a Terrell Owens to the mix, the entire dynamic of the group changes.  So now that Owens is in the fold, it's time to re-assess.  Because let's face it - there isn't anything more interesting to talk about at the moment.

The results have the potential to be staggering.  A deep but underwhelming position now has the potential to be the strength of the entire football team.

Opening Statement
We mentioned back in January that this position will go as Trent Edwards goes.  Terrell Owens doesn't change that, though he certainly makes things easier for every facet of Buffalo's offense, most particularly for Edwards.  The position always had depth; now the depth here is enviable, to the point where the team may see fit to move a player.

#83 Lee Evans (starter)
   5'10", 197 pounds
   Age: 28 in March 2009
   Contract status: 4 years remaining (UFA in 2013); owed $20.4 million base salaries and $5 million in roster bonuses over the final 3 years of the deal
- Evans still fancies himself the Bills' top receiver.  No receiver benefits more from the presence of Owens than Evans, who won't have to deal with persistent double coverage for sixteen games this year.  One of the league's elite deep threats, Evans will be free to do what he's best at provided Owens continues his dominant play - make big plays.  He'll have a shot to make a lot of them.

Terrell Owens (starter)
   6'3", 224 pounds
   Age: 36 in December 2009
   Contract status: 1 year remaining (UFA in 2010); owed $6.5 million guaranteed
- There isn't a lot to say that isn't already widely known.  He's one of the top two or three touchdown-producing receivers in NFL history, with 139 career scoring receptions to his name.  Even if he is dealing with diminishing skills, Owens brings two things to the receiving corps that we haven't seen in a long time: physicality and nearly unparalleled prowess in the red zone.  He's a ten-touchdown-per-year player.  If that continues in Buffalo, our offense is infinitely better.  Case closed.

#82 Josh Reed
   5'10", 210 pounds
   Age: 29 in May 2009
   Contract status: 1 year remaining (UFA in 2010); owed $2.025 million in base salaries
- After years of playing out of position as the Bills' second receiver, Reed will return to the area where he does the most damage - the slot.  He's already proven himself to be a reliable chain-moving target, and he's been a go-to guy for Edwards.  Now he'll be free to do even more damage underneath.  He'll never be an All Pro, but when you're surrounded with two outstanding outside targets, Reed is the type of player that will aggravate defenses to no end in the short areas of the field.

#11 Roscoe Parrish
   5'9", 171 pounds
   Age: 27 in July 2009
   Contract status: 3 years remaining (UFA in 2012); owed $3.05 million in base salaries, $1.5 million in signing bonuses and $1.5 million in roster bonuses
- No one denies that Parrish can be electrifying with the ball in his hands.  What can be questioned, however, is whether or not Parrish - a gadget player and elite punt returner and little more - is too luxury for a team like the Bills.  Considering the amount of money he's due to be paid and the amount of playing time that's no longer open to him, don't be shocked if the team looks to trade him.  As many of you have astutely pointed out, keep an eye on Kansas City as a possible landing spot.

#81 James Hardy
   6'6", 220 pounds
   Age: 24 in December 2009
   Contract status: Entering second year of undisclosed, multi-year contract.
- Indirectly, no one is going to benefit more from Owens' presence than James Hardy.  Already blessed with rare size for a receiver, Hardy will get to spend at least a year watching Owens.  T.O. doesn't need to teach him a thing; in fact, it's probably a little dangerous to ask him to do so.  But no one has ever questioned Owens' work ethic or his practice habits.  He does everything by the book and more on the field and in the practice setting.  It will benefit the developing Hardy immensely to be around a player with Owens' work habits.

#13 Steve Johnson
   6'2", 210 pounds
   Age: 23 in July 2009
   Contract status: Entering second year of undisclosed, multi-year contract.
- See: Hardy, James.  Subtract the lingering knee injury and add the fact that he's already a fan favorite.  The kid's got upside, but if a guy like Parrish isn't moved, he may not get many opportunities to see the field in 2009.

#17 Justin Jenkins
   6'0", 207 pounds
   Age: 29 in December 2009
   Contract status: Entering first year of undisclosed, multi-year contract.
- He's here because of his value as a special teams player.  Even if something happens on the trade front with Parrish, Jenkins isn't seeing the field as a receiver barring catastrophic injuries.

There's a LOT to like about this group.  There's a good blend of physical and finesse; of size and speed; of veteran and youth.  If Owens keeps his nose clean - and obviously, that's the biggest "if" in the history of professional sports - this group has the potential to be flat-out dominant.  They should be able to strike at any level of the field, and the potential for explosive, game-changing plays is through the roof.  But it's not a guarantee.  Nothing is a guarantee until we know exactly what we have in Edwards.  Owens or no Owens, it's a quarterback's league.  Everything still rests on Trent's shoulders.  But boy, his job should be much easier with T.O. in the fold.