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Poll: What should the Bills do at slot receiver this offseason?

Lots of options

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Isaiah McKenzie is a free agent and Cole Beasley is on the wrong side of 30 with a big cap hit, so the slot receiver position could look exactly the same as 2021 or be completely different in 2022. We’ve put together a comprehensive look at the position and want YOUR opinion in our poll below.

Read the excerpts from all of our articles (or better yet click through and read each of the full articles) and then vote in the poll to share your opinion.

All-22 review: Cole Beasley’s 2021 season

By Jeff Kantrowski

It’s undeniable that Cole Beasley had his worst year in a Buffalo Bills uniform. Some of that is likely due to Father Time. Personally I think that some play designs hurt YAC opportunity and pulled back from Beasley’s success in his other two seasons with Buffalo. That said, Beasley still objectively had a pretty good season in many respects.

Though I think Beasley may be starting to slow down, I also don’t think the Bills have anyone who can truly replicate what he brings to the table. Being fair to Buffalo’s roster, I’d wager that many teams don’t have an equivalent player either.

Read the entire article with lots of GIF analysis right here

All-22 review: Isaiah McKenzie's 2021 season

By Jeff Kantrowski

Isaiah McKenzie had a career breakout against New England but there is a question of sustainability. McKenzie’s speed is supplemented by a good set of hands and a variety of ways he can be brought in to cause some chaos. His athletic profile suggests that’s he’s physically capable of a complex route tree, but it appears the Bills are convinced otherwise with a clear emphasis on gadget plays and crossing routes.

Read the entire article with lots of GIF analysis right here

Salary cap ramifications of cutting Cole Beasley

By Matt Warren

If release Beasley, they could rid themselves of more than $6 million in cash (salary and bonuses) and salary cap for the 2022 season. Since 2022 is the final year of his deal, there are no big future cap hits to absorb. It’s a pretty small dead-cap hit of just $1.5 million.

Read the full breakdown with numbers here

Contract projection for Isaiah McKenzie

By Matt Warren

With five accrued seasons, McKenzie doesn’t jump to the next level of veteran minimum contract but the minimum goes up from 2021 to 2022, so I’ll adjust accordingly.

One year, $1,172,500
$350,000 guaranteed

McKenzie gets another league minimum deal. His base salary totals $1.035 million with $212,500 guaranteed plus a $137,500 signing bonus.

Read all the comparable contracts and rationale in the full article here

Stevenson, Hodgins could factor into slot WR discussion

By Matt Warren

Marquez Stevenson would be the natural top choice to replace McKenzie as the shifty jet sweep receiver in Buffalo’s offense, at least out of the players under contract right now for 2022.

Another name to consider could be Isaiah Hodgins, who has the size to play outside but the route-running ability to factor in as a large slot receiver. It would certainly be a different type of slot receiver than the Bills currently have in either Beasley or McKenzie, but he would definitely be a cheap choice (and a potentially promising one) on a cost-controlled deal.

Read the full look at the options on the tea at slot receiver here

What free agents are available at slot receiver?

By Dan Lavoie

Braxton Berrios
As a returner, he’s a first-team All-Pro, leading the league in kick return average (and ranking second in punt return average for players who returned at least 15 punts). As a receiver, his production is more modest, but still decent. 2021 was his best year, with 46 catches for 431 yards and two touchdowns, plus seven carries for 40 yards and two more TDs.

Russell Gage
In the last two years, Gage has 138 receptions for 1,556 yards and eight touchdowns. Those are solid number-two receiver numbers. He turns 26 this year.

Jamison Crowder
The slot receiver’s best season was 2019, when he caught 78 passes for 833 yards and six touchdowns. By 2021, he was eclipsed in the offense in favor of rookie Elijah Moore and other options like Corey Davis. It didn’t help that he suffered a calf injury that cost him multiple games.

Christian Kirk
Kirk, one of the youngest free agents available, only just turned 25 years old. He just had the best year of his career, with 77 catches for 982 yards and five touchdowns. Kirk’s also never really had a down year, with at least 590 yards in every season since entering the league.

Zach Pascal
In 2019 and 2020, Pascal looked to be one of the league’s ascending slot receivers. The 6’2” 214-lb receiver averaged 43 catches for 618 yards and five touchdowns in those two seasons. It was an efficient clip of 8.6 yards per target, as well. The 2021 season was a major disappointment, then, as Pascal didn’t mesh well with new quarterback Carson Wentz.

D.J. Chark
A high risk, high reward 6’4” 198-lb receiver who ran a 4.34 at the Combine, Chark was a Pro Bowl selection in 2019 when he stacked up 73 catches for 1,008 yards and eight TDs. His 2020 season was also solid, in light of QBs Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon, and Jake Luton splitting time on the offense. But he broke his ankle four games into the 2021 season, before he could build any real momentum.

Read the full list of free agents and more information on each in our full article here

2022 NFL Draft options at slot receiver

By Andrew Griffin

Tier I

Garrett Wilson (Ohio State)
Chris Olave (Ohio State)
Jahan Dotson (Penn State)

This group of players offers a little bit more than simply a possession wideout, and all three will likely be selected in the first round. Wilson is probably the least polished route-runner of this group, but his upside is high thanks to his physicality, exceptional catch range despite standing only 6’0” and he has underrated long speed. Wilson’s teammate Olave is much more of a route technician, with the intelligence needed to diagnose a defense and potential to play the role of “quarterback friendly” wideout. Just don’t expect him to out-physical defenders. Dotson is the smallest player on this list, but he offers much more versatility thanks to his elite speed. He’s always a threat to beat defenses deep. He can also fall back on his quick cuts to threaten the underneath areas. He’s a weapon at all three levels.

Tier II

John Metchie III (Alabama)
Khalil Shakir (Boise State)
Calvin Austin (Memphis)

Tier III

Kyle Philips (UCLA)
Skyy Moore (Western Michigan)
Ty Fryfogle (Indiana)

Read more about the Tier II and Tier III players in our full article here

Opinion: Bills should use multiple tools to reset slot receiver this offseason

By Bruce Nolan

  1. Let McKenzie walk for a bigger contract
  2. Restructure Cole Beasley
  3. Draft Calvin Austin III

Read all of Bruce’s rationale for his opinions in our full article here

Now it’s time to let your voice be heard. Vote in our poll now!


What do you want the Bills to do at slot receiver this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Re-sign McKenzie and run the same pair next year
    (287 votes)
  • 2%
    Let McKenzie walk, sign a free agent
    (27 votes)
  • 9%
    Let McKenzie walk, draft a replacement
    (110 votes)
  • 4%
    Let McKenzie walk, go with Hodgins/Stevenson
    (60 votes)
  • 13%
    Sign McKenzie, cut Cole, sign a free agent
    (158 votes)
  • 20%
    Sign McKenzie, cut Cole, draft a replacement
    (245 votes)
  • 15%
    Sign McKenzie, cut Cole, go with Hodgins/Stevenson
    (189 votes)
  • 1%
    Cut Cole, let McKenzie walk, go with Hodgins & Stevenson
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    Cut Cole, let McKenzie walk, sign two free agents
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Cut Cole, let McKenzie walk, draft two players
    (7 votes)
  • 7%
    Cut Cole, let McKenzie walk, sign a free agent, draft a guy
    (92 votes)
1203 votes total Vote Now

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