The Buffalo Bills have brought back wide receiver Kaelin Clay, per his agent and first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Traded to the team just before the 2017 season began, Clay spent four games with the Bills last year, hauling in a single 28-yard catch on four targets during his stint. He also fielded two punts, fumbling one. Now he’ll get another chance to audition with the team in the preseason.
The Buffalo Bills traded cornerback Kevon Seymour and a seventh round pick to the Carolina Panthers for Seymour in September. Clay was brought in to give the Buffalo offense a much-needed dose of speed, but failed to distinguish himself beyond the single deep catch. When the Bills cut him in October, the Panthers immediately reclaimed him, and they used him as a punt returner and backup receiver for the remainder of their season.
Now he joins a Bills team with the same issues - none of Buffalo’s current receiving group offers much to take the top off a defense. Last year’s punt returner, Brandon Tate, remains unsigned, so that position is open too. Given Clay’s career production, and Buffalo’s actions in the free agent market this year, it’s likely that the team brought him on to cheaply compete for that role with an incoming rookie. Two players who would make sense for the Bills are running back Rashaad Penny (who scheduled a pre-draft visit with the team) and receiver Dante Pettis. Penny returned seven kickoffs and one punt for touchdowns in his career, and Pettis holds the NCAA record for career punt return touchdowns, in addition to being a quick receiving target.