The Buffalo Bills have one star receiver, but after that, they have a group of players who still have plenty to prove. Most fans and pundits thought that the Bills would make an investment to their wide receiver group in the form of a significant addition, whether that was through the NFL Draft or free agency. While Buffalo has been linked to a pair of star wideouts in Odell Beckham Jr. and Deandre Hopkins, nothing has materialized on that front, and the only receiver they drafted came in Round 5 of the draft.
That’s not to say the Bills haven’t added to the receiver room, however, as only three of the 13 wideouts on the roster were contributors last season. Buffalo is definitely looking for some diamonds in the rough at receiver, especially for some spots deeper on the depth chart.
In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile one such wideout.
Name: Marcell Ateman
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 215 pounds
Age: 28 (29 on 9/16/2023)
Experience/Draft: 3; selected by the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders in the seventh round (No. 228 overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft
College: Oklahoma State
Acquired: Signed with Buffalo on 6/1/2023
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Ateman signed a one-year deal worth a total of $940,000. That contract contains no guarantees. If he makes the roster, that full amount will be his 2023 cap hit, and if Buffalo cuts him, he won’t count at all against their salary cap.
2022 Recap: Ateman spent just a few weeks on an NFL roster last year, as he signed with the Arizona Cardinals on August 4 and was waived on August 22. He appeared in two preseason games for the Cardinals during that stretch, catching two passes for eight yards. After he was released, he was selected by the St. Louis Battlehawks of the XFL. Playing with former Bills quarterback A.J. McCarron, Ateman caught 19 passes for 259 yards on 37 targets.
Positional outlook: Ateman is one of 13 wideouts on the current roster, and he’s one of a slew of new additions who are all bigger targets. Ateman joins Jalen Wayne, Justin Shorter, Bryan Thompson, Trent Sherfield, Tyrell Shavers, Khalil Shakir, Dezmon Patmon, KeeSean Johnson, Deonte Harty, Gabe Davis, Isaiah Coulter, and Stefon Diggs
2023 Offseason: Ateman is healthy and participating in offseason activities to date.
2023 Season outlook: Ateman is one of five pass-catchers added to the roster this offseason who is at least 6’4” (wideouts Patmon, Shavers, and Coulter, as well as tight end Dalton Kincaid), which signifies a shift from smaller, shiftier players to bigger targets. I’m not sure that it’s going to translate into a roster spot for Ateman, who will need to show that he can not only handle boundary receiver duties this preseason, but he’ll likely need to show himself a worthy contributor on special teams in order to make the final roster. I assume that Justin Shorter has the advantage among the “trees” that Buffalo has added this summer given his draft status, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. Ateman is probably auditioning for a spot on the practice squad this summer.