Declining the fifth-year option on wide receiver Sammy Watkins contract, the Buffalo Bills appear ready to move on from their former first round draft pick. Such a move — while initially shocking — would not come as a surprise to those who keep a close eye on the performance of the team’s players.
Suffering a barrage of lower body and foot injuries in his first three seasons with the Bills, Watkins is already suffering some problem injuries and the 2017 season has yet to begin. If Watkins again struggles to remain healthy this season, then his time with the Bills could come to an end.
If this scenario comes true, then the Bills will need to find a new receiver to help lead their offense. With Zay Jones as the number two option going forward, Buffalo could either add this talent through the draft or look to add a value option during free agency. Should they go the free agent route and look for value over talent, here are three players the team could consider signing in 2018.
Around the NFL: Miami playing with fire when it comes to Landry’s contract
What’s Trending: Former Giants’ DT, Matt Mitrione, delivers first-round knockout
Monday Morning Joe: Is it time to bring back NFL Europe
cover32 Fantasy Periscope: This week Andrew Erickson breaks down the WR position
Follow us on Twitter here
Jordan Matthews — Philadelphia
The slot man in the Philadelphia Eagles offense, Jordan Matthews has been Philly’s most consistent receiver since his arrival. Recording more receptions last season (73) than both the team’s second and third placed receivers combined, Matthews is someone that is both reliable and a solid playmaker out of the slot.
While Matthews addition would not replace Watkins at the wideout position, his addition would give the Bills a solid receiving option to use in the passing game. Gaining someone that is a reliable pass catcher has to be the main goal after all. In addition, Matthews has been basically healthy for most of his career, suffering only minor injuries that have caused him to miss only two games in his entire career.
With the Eagles looking to potentially unload Matthews following this season — potentially sooner — the Bills should have a free and clear run at the receiver. Considering his overall value should provide the Bills with a relatively cheap contract, I have no doubt that he would be a good addition to the team.
Dontrelle Inman — LA Chargers
Playing in what I would call an extremely undervalued LA — formerly San Diego — receiving corps, Dontrelle Inman has quietly become one of the NFL’s biggest weapons. While his numbers may not show the breakout type of player he could become in the next year or two, Inman is a true weapon that could replace Watkins at the wideout position in Buffalo.
Recording about 14-yards per reception over the last two seasons with the Chargers, Inman is a player that would have a bright future if not for his age. Considering that he is still learning the game at 28-years of age, his value is likely to remain low even if he becomes more of a known threat this season.
With his receptions and numbers rising each season, Inman will likely be a great value option for teams in 2018. Should Inman choose to test the open market — something I think will happen — then he should be one of the Buffalo Bills first free agent targets once the spring of 2018 rolls around.
Marqise Lee — Jacksonville
A former second round draft pick by the Jaguars, many fans in Jacksonville had high hopes for the former USC standout. Unfortunately for the team and it’s fans, Lee has yet to really pan out for the team and will almost certainly become a free agent in 2018. However, despite his lack of a breakout, the talent is there and just needs to be harnessed.
Making 63 catches for 851-yards and three touchdowns last season, Lee had the best campaign of his career. Despite this, Lee seems destined for a reversal this season due to the poor quarterback play that is present in Jacksonville. Such an event likely allows Lee to remain an extremely cheap receiving option in 2018.
With Lee also possessing some solid top end speed that the team would need to help replace Watkins, Lee would be a solid pickup for the Buffalo Bills next season.