The 2016 season made it clear — the Buffalo Bills needed to make upgrades to their wide receiver group in 2017, both in the quality and quantity departments. They lost Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin — starters in 2016 — in free agency, and gained Andre Holmes, Philly Brown, and Jeremy Butler.
Woods is a fine talent who wasn’t able to consistently produce in Buffalo. Some believe that was mostly on the quarterbacks he had. Others believe it was mainly due to a lack of top-level upside or physical ability. To me, the true culprit of Woods’ unreliability lands somewhere in between those two schools of thought.
There was almost no doubt Goodwin would sign elsewhere after a four-year stint with the Bills in which he had significant issues staying healthy and developing into a steady target at the intermediate level or on the deep ball.
Soon after free agency began, Goodwin signed with the San Francisco 49ers. His deal with San Francisco compared to what Buffalo paid for Holmes, Brown, and Butler is fascinating.
San Francisco 49ers
2 years, $6 million
Average per year: $3 million
3 years, $5.15 million
Average per year: $1.76 million
1 year, $690,000
Average per year: $690,00
1 year, $625,000
Annual per year: $625,000
Combined annual per year payments of Holmes, Brown, and Butler: $3.08 million
Buffalo managed to sign three wideouts for the price of Goodwin to sign in San Francisco with the 49ers. With the NFL salary cap now at $167 million, the extra 80,000 for the Bills in this equation is essentially chump change. Also, Goodwin has $2 million in incentives that are reportedly “very much in reach.”
There are some things to keep in mind. Butler and Brown are on one-year contracts. Also, the 49ers went into free agency with a ridiculous amount of cap space, so there’s an argument out there that they kinda-sorta had to spend big. Although there’s also a logical argument that frivolous spending shouldn’t ever happen, regardless of cap room.
In his four-year NFL career, Goodwin has appeared in 39 games. He’s caught 49 passes for 780 yards with six touchdowns. That equates to 1.3 receptions and 20 yards receiving per game.
Over the past four years — in 58 games — with the Raiders, Holmes has 100 grabs, 1,450 yards, and 12 touchdowns, which equals 1.7 catches and 25 receiving yards per outing.
Brown had 79 receptions for 1,019 yards and seven scores in 43 games over a three-year stretch with the Panthers. That’s 1.7 snags and 23.7 yards per contest.
Butler is the least experienced and least productive member here but the most efficient. In 12 career NFL games, he has 33 catches and 373 yards. That equates to 2.8 receptions and 31.2 yards per game.
The Bills had a decent amount of money to spend in free agency, and there’s no doubting their shrewd way they counteracted Goodwin’s departure.