The Buffalo Bills do not have a tremendously talented receiving corps. They did little to address the position overall, retaining three of the top four players on the depth chart from 2017 and allowing one, veteran Jordan Matthews, to walk in free agency. The Bills were able to add a veteran wide receiver, however, in Jeremy Kerley, the former San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets receiver.
In our latest installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we look at a player who adds some much-needed diversity to a group that was full of incredibly similar players last season.
Name: Jeremy Kerley
Height/Weight: 5’9,” 188 lbs.
College: Texas Christian (TCU)
Draft: Selected in the 5th round (153rd overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New York Jets
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Well...Spotrac doesn’t know the details of Kerley’s contract. Neither does overthecap.com. The Democrat and Chronicle reported Kerley’s deal to be a one-year pact when he signed on April 16. The veteran minimum salary for a player of Kerley’s experience level is $915,000, so I’ll assume that he’ll count around that much against the salary cap this season.
2017 Recap: After setting career highs in targets and receptions in 2016, Kerley had a disastrous 2017. He was cut by the 49ers when the team set its 53-man roster on September 2. He re-signed with the Jets on September 5, but was suspended in November for four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He then suggested that a ghost might have caused the tainted sample—I wish I were kidding, but it’s true—before the Jets waived him in December when he was due to return to the team. All in all, Kerley only saw action in 8 games, catching 22 of 27 targets for 217 yards and 1 touchdown. He also returned 16 punts for 85 yards.
Positional outlook: The Bills aren’t exactly loaded with talent at the wide receiver position. Aside from Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones, there really are no locks for the roster next season. Andre Holmes led the 2017 Bills in receiving touchdowns with 3, but he is mostly a contributor on special teams. Kerley probably slots in as the team’s third man on the depth chart, and the primary slot receiver for whomever the Bills start at quarterback. Kerley will have to fend off young players like Austin Proehl, Ray-Ray McCloud, Brandon Reilly, Quan Bray, Malachi Dupre, Kaelin Clay, Robert Foster, and Cam Phillips in order to make the roster.
2018 Offseason: Nick Wojton of Bills Wire had an exclusive interview with Kerley earlier in May where Kerley talked about his plans for the offseason. I recommend checking out the interview, but Kerley discussed his comfort in the slot, how he spoke with former college teammate (and current Buffalo Bill) Jerry Hughes about the city prior to signing, and his plans to link up with the team’s quarterbacks prior to the start of camp.
2018 season outlook: Kerley will probably make the Bills’ final roster, but he is far from a lock. He lost his job in San Francisco because he was outplayed by younger players in the preseason, and the Bills have enough unknowns at the position where that could very well happen again. If Kerley can recapture some of the magic that made him a useful slot receiver and punt returner in New Jersey, then he could find himself holding both of those roles as a member of the 2018 Buffalo Bills.