Entering the 2013 offseason, general manager Buddy Nix expressed three key priorities that needed to be addressed. Those were finding a franchise quarterback, a solid receiver to complement Stevie Johnson and finding a linebacker that could cover the quicker tight ends being used more and more in today’s NFL.
While the No. 1 target on many Bills’ fans minds was Kansas City Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe, he re-signed with the team, leaving speculation regarding tier-two options such as Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson, among others.
However, Gibson agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins and it appears that Alexander will be staying with the San Diego Chargers. So which remaining free agent wide receivers could the Bills kick the tires on?
Brandon Lloyd, 31, New England Patriots
Brandon Lloyd was the National Football League’s leading receiver in 2010, gaining over 1,400 yards with the Denver Broncos, but was released after a 74 reception, 911 yard and four touchdown campaign with the New England Patriots following the 2012 season.
Lloyd is 6’0” and weighs 200 pounds and is a capable No. 2 possession receiver that has some speed to his game. But at his age, coupled with reports out of Foxboro that Lloyd’s erratic locker-room behavior led to his recent release, he might not be the best option for the Bills at this time.
Domenik Hixon, 28, New York Giants (signed with Carolina Panthers)
While Eli Manning was putting up huge numbers with wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz at his disposal, Domenik Hixon quietly had a productive year. The eight-year veteran started three games, catching 39 passes for 367 yards, while finding the endzone twice.
The 6’2” 197 pounder isn’t a flashy player that can be trusted as a No. 1 option, but he could provide reliable depth to a position that needs stability.
Laurent Robinson, 28, Jacksonville Jaguars
After an incredible 2011 campaign with the Dallas Cowboys in which Laurent Robinson scored 11 touchdowns after hauling in 54 passes for 858 yards, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed him to a five-year deal.
However, after suffering multiple concussions, the Jaguars opted to release him during the free agency period. Robsinson has reportedly been cleared for contact, but the fact that the Jaguars released him so quickly hints at the fact that he may not be ready to be a significant contributor at this point in time.
Ramses Barden, 27, New York Giants
Ramses Barden is an impressive athlete and a physical specimen. At 6’6” 224 pounds, he certainly fits the mold of the “go up and get it” receiver Nix has coveted. The former third rounder hasn’t had an opportunity to get on the field, posting the best stat line of his career in 2012 (14 receptions, 220 yards) while playing just 210 snaps.
Barden is certainly the most intriguing option of the available free agent wide receivers.
Titus Young, 24, St. Louis Rams
Titus Young is the most talented of all of the available free agent wideouts, but has the most question marks. After he reportedly purposely ran wrong routes and caused trouble with the Detroit Lions, he was released.
The St. Louis Rams quickly claimed him off waivers, but released him just as fast. In his first two years after being a second round draft pick, Young caught 81 passes for 990 yards and 10 touchdowns, but with the Bills going through a regime chance, he’s probably the last person they want in the locker room.
Chaz Schilens, 27, New York Jets
Chaz Schilens has incredible size and speed, standing 6’4”, weighing 225 pounds, while running a 4.33 40-yard dash, but has never really been a consistent receiving option since being a seventh round draft pick in 2008.
He played four seasons with the Oakland Raiders before signing with the New York Jets in 2012, catching 100 passes for 1,191 yards and nine touchdowns in his career. He’s an intriguing physical specimen that definitely warrants a look, at least for training camp.
Mohamed Massaquoi, 26, Cleveland Browns
26-year old Mohamed Massaquoi is another lower-tier receiver that could be brought in as a No. 3 or No. 4 receiving option. In his four years with the Browns, he’s caught 118 passes for 1,745 yards and seven touchdowns.
Massaquoi dealt with concussion issues in 2011 and began to be phased out of the Browns’ offense in 2012 upon the arrival of wide receivers Josh Gordon, Travis Benjamin and Greg Little. At 6’2” and 207 pounds, Massaquoi is an interesting option that the Bills could look to as an under-the-radar contributor.