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Buffalo Bills 2019 free-agent target profile: wide receiver Tyrell Williams

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The big, speedy wideout would be a dynamic complement to Buffalo’s current crop of receivers

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills need help on offense. With a young, rocket-armed quarterback in Josh Allen, the team should prioritize adding weapons to maximize Allen’s talents and potential. While adding to the offensive line is a must, adding to the team’s receiving options is another easy way to help Allen reach the next level of his development.

Buffalo dramatically changed its receiving corps during the 2018 season. Big-bodied veterans Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes were phased out of the offense and subsequently released, and in their place the Bills added speedier, smaller receivers. Robert Foster (who at 6’2” isn’t small, but he is smaller than the 6’4” Holmes and the 6’5” Benjamin), Isaiah McKenzie (5’8”), and Victor Bolden Jr. (5’8”) were added to the roster, playing significant roles both on offense and special teams as the 2018 season progressed.

More change is necessary here, and acquiring more talent should be a priority for Buffalo. If the team wants faster receivers with some size, then they should be looking at a player like Tyrell Williams. The former undrafted free agent signee of the San Diego Chargers stayed with the team when it moved to Los Angeles. He has been a favorite deep target of quarterback Philip Rivers throughout their time together.

Would Williams be a good fit in Buffalo? Aside from the fact that his name is clearly one prioritized by the franchise, he certainly possesses skills that the team seems to covet.

Blazing Speed

Tyrell Williams is a burner. For a 6’4” wideout, his speed is beyond warp speed, instead falling squarely into ludicrous speed. At his pro day in 2015, Williams ran a 4.43 forty-yard dash; that time would have been twelfth among all wideouts at the 2015 NFL Draft Combine had Williams been invited. His low time of 4.33 seconds would have tied Phillip Dorsett for the second-fastest time at the combine that year. Williams’s speed has translated well into his NFL game, as he’s caught 155 passes for 2,530 yards in his four-year career—an average of 16.3 yards per reception. Putting him on the outside with Foster, who also runs quite well, would cause nightmares for opposing defenses.

Number One Receiver?

Bills general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott each said that they doesn’t think a true “number one” receiver is necessary anymore in today’s NFL, but don’t tell Williams. In an interview earlier this winter, Williams said that he feels like he is a true “go-to” receiver, someone whom teams can rely on to be “the guy” rather than just another guy on the roster. Williams average season is not indicative of traditional “number one” status, as he has averaged 48 receptions, 778 yards, and five touchdowns per 16 games over his career. His role in the Chargers’ offense, though, was to play second-fiddle to Keenan Allen. In the 2016 season, which Allen missed due to an ACL tear, Williams set career-highs in targets (119), receptions (69), receiving yards (1,059), and touchdowns (seven). When given the opportunity, Williams has shown that he can be “the guy;” however, he has never consistently had to be “the guy” in San Diego/Los Angeles.

What Will He Cost?

Given his stated desire to be a number one receiver, it’s safe to assume that Williams will seek a contract that pays him as such. Given Buffalo’s brass stating that they don’t believe a numbernone receiver is necessary in today’s NFL, one can also assume the Bills won’t pursue Williams on the open market. (Their actions may suggest otherwise, however. Hello Antonio Brown trade talks.) To pass on him without first checking in about his contract wants would be foolish, as he fits what the team needs almost perfectly—he is a big target who can win contested catches and flat-out run by defensive backs. Spotrac projects a contract of three years at nearly $29 million as Williams’s market value, comparing the 27-year old to Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Marquis Lee, and Kenny Stills. Of those four players, the guaranteed money ranges from $16.5 million (Lee) to $24.25 million (Baldwin). If the Bills were to offer Williams a three-year deal worth $30 million with $17 million in guarantees, they would be acquiring a talented receiver entering his prime at a completely reasonable price.

Granted, such a contract would be betting on Williams’s future rather than paying for his past production, but that’s exactly what a signing like this one is. Giving a talented player a change of scenery and an opportunity to grow into a larger role is always a leap of faith, but this particular plunge would add an explosive, talented player to a Buffalo offense sorely lacking in that department.