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Early look at Buffalo Bills’ 2023 needs: Wide receiver

With a weak free-agent class and no clear star in the draft, is the move a potential trade?

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The offseason begins in earnest for the Buffalo Bills as they seek to build on an AFC East divisional champion team that fell to the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL Divisional Round of the playoffs. With a few important unrestricted free agents, the Bills’ list of positional needs is fluid — based upon the return (or lack thereof) for pending free agents like linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and safety Jordan Poyer.

But one of the needs many will be clamoring for is another wide receiver.

Gabe Davis had a reasonable year statistically in his first campaign as the team’s second starter. Possession receivers Jamison Crowder and Cole Beasley are on expiring contracts, and Isaiah McKenzie has a year left on his deal, and will likely return in the same role he’s previously occupied. So who can be added to the position room?

The rumors of Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow being available certainly pique my interest. Renfrow could provide quarterback Josh Allen with the slot weapon Beasley previously held with the team. Plus, Renfrow could come on a cost-controlled contract after signing an extension with Vegas before this past injury-hampered season.

The 2023 NFL Draft isn’t considered to be particularly top-heavy with receiver candidates, which doesn’t impact the Bills much because they’re scheduled to pick 27th. The opinions on Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba vary widely between “not a first rounder” and “not going to make it to 27.” TCU’s Quentin Johnston has the height-weight-speed profile, but may be more of a project than some teams picking high prefer. USC’s Jordan Addison has the refined route-running that may remind some of former Alabama and current Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Devonta Smith, but some aren’t sold on his ability to win consistently at the catch point.

If the Bills want to make a move here, they will have options in the draft and potentially through a trade, but the 2023 free-agent wide receiver class is considered by most to be weak overall. That could lead to players like New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Myers and Kansas City Chiefs receivers Mecole Hardman and Juju Smith-Schuster getting priced out of the Bills’ range. If Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell becomes available for a reasonable price, he could personify the type of “injuries early in his career have suppressed his value” free agent who can be a surplus value signing for a team.

Overall, it’s not a great year to need another wide receiver. The supply and demand curves lead to a price point in free agency that might make it hard for the Bills to participate, and the draft lacks clear and decisive upper-echelon talent. Trade ideas often end up being more smoke than fire this time of year, so shrewd talent evaluation may be necessary to get a home run at the position and help support the 2023 version of the Bills’ offense.

...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” every Thursday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!