The Buffalo Bills had a wealth of talent at wide receiver in 2021. This year, the team still has plenty of depth, although the names and faces have changed. The group is younger, as well, having lost Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley this offseason, both of whom are over 33 years of age.
After losing those two veterans, who each accounted for over half of the team’s snaps played at receiver, a new group has a chance to emerge and earn time on the field. The Bills acquired some new talent this year, as well, but some players who have spent multiple years on the roster are also looking for a chance to show that they deserve more time.
In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one such player—an injury-plagued wideout entering his third season with the club.
Name: Isaiah Hodgins
Height/Weight: 6’3” 201 lbs
Age: 23 (24 on 10/21/2022)
Experience/Draft: 2; selected in the sixth round (No. 207 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft by Buffalo
College: Oregon State
Acquired: Sixth-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Hodgins signed a two-year reserve/futures deal this offseason. That contract is worth a total of $1.575 million with no guaranteed money on the deal. Since Buffalo released him last year prior to the end of his initial rookie contract, he will count $79,444 in dead-cap charges regardless of whether he makes the team or not. If he makes the 53-man roster, he carries a cap hit of $705,000 this year.
2021 Recap: Hodgins had a strong training camp last year, and there was some chance that he’d be a dark horse final receiver on the roster given the strong reviews he earned from coaches. However, Hodgins was only able to play in one preseason game, Buffalo’s 16-15 win over the Detroit Lions, because he suffered a knee injury in that contest. Hodgins caught one pass for 13 yards in that game, but thanks to the injury, he could not suit up for the rest of the preseason. He was released at the end of the preseason, and he signed with the team’s practice squad immediately thereafter. He remained on the practice squad until Week 16, when he was elevated for the Bills’ 33-21 victory over the New England Patriots. Hodgins made his pro debut in that game, but he was not targeted in the four snaps he played. He reverted to the practice squad after the game and was not elevated again.
Positional outlook: Hodgins finds himself in a familiar spot: he’s a bubble guy with a reworked receiver group. Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Jamison Crowder, and Isaiah McKenzie are all essentially locks, with Khalil Shakir and Jake Kumerow very likely to be the fifth and sixth players on the roster. That would leave Hodgins battling for a hypothetical seventh receiver spot with Tavon Austin, Tanner Gentry, Marquez Stevenson, and Neil Pau’u.
2022 Offseason: Hodgins missed the first day of minicamp thanks to an undisclosed injury, but he returned the following day. He’s participated in everything else this offseason.
2022 Season outlook: When he was drafted, Hodgins had the look of a late-round diamond in the rough who, given opportunity, could become a useful contributor in Buffalo’s offense. Two years and a plethora of injuries later, Hodgins looks more like a guy who will be seeking opportunity elsewhere. I still think he could be a good NFL player, but given the depth that the Bills have at wideout, I don’t think it will be here. If he stays healthy, he could push Kumerow for that sixth spot provided he shows that he can play special teams, but I’m not counting on it, and I don’t think the Bills are, either. I hope he comes out and lights it up during the preseason, but I think Hodgins will be elsewhere in 2022.