It’s done Bills fans, the long wait and nerves are over and all of us can now work the knots out of stomachs. Today it was announced that the Buffalo Bills have signed Steve Johnson to a 5 year deal that will keep him in Buffalo for many more seasons and touchdown celebrations.
While Johnson’s antics sometimes draw penalties and annoy some fans no one can deny his talent and the difference he makes on the field. Johnson is the Bills #1 WR in terms of the depth chart but many fans and analysts want him to take that next step and become a more complete and dominant WR. He has his contract now, so it’s time to do it.
Adding Johnson is a huge coup for a team that had traditionally struggled to keep its own rising stars. Is it a sign of the times changing? We won’t go that far but it’s a great feeling, to be a Bills fan in the offseason for once.
So where does that leave us? Well our current WR depth chart reads like this;
WR1: Steve Johnson
WR2: Donald Jones
WR3: Brad Smith
WR4: David Nelson
WR5: Namaan Roosevelt
WR6: Kamar Aiken
We also can’t forget about the soon to be returning Marcus Easley who we are yet to see play even one regular season snap and the newly signed David Clowney. Easley is a big WR who has some speed and was a force as a senior at UConn but has dealt with injuries and an undisclosed heart condition which has stopped his career all together. We have no idea what kind of shape he’ll be in next year.
Clowney is a wildcard because of how he fits into the offense. He could potentially be considered the slot WR replacement for Roscoe Parrish who the Bills have shown little interest in retaining thus far. One free agent the Bills have who we wouldn’t mind bringing back into camp would be Derek Hagan. He showed good ability late in the season and could be a good camp competitor to push guys like Aiken, Roosevelt, and even Jones for their roster spot.
What’s next? Well the Bills still have a hole at WR2. We’re not the biggest Donald Jones fans in the world and we think he would be a better option working out of the slot than on the outside. So with Easley being such a question mark the opportunity may be there to draft a big name WR like Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, or Michael Floyd in Round 1. You could wait till Round 2 or 3 and take a guy like Stephen Hill, Tommy Streeter, Marvin McNutt, Dwight Jones, Rueben Randle, or Mohammed Sanu as well if they choose to wait.
Many assumed Buffalo would target a FA WR as well and that could still happen but with many of the big names getting franchised or resigned the market is going to get expensive so expect Buffalo to look at a 2nd tier WR like a Early Doucet as opposed to the Colston’s, Meachum’s, or Bowe’s of the market.
Whether it’s through Free Agency or the draft, know the Bills are not done with this WR group but bringing back Stevie Johnson is one hell of a start.
UPDATE: Per Joe Buscaglia of WGR the contract numbers are 5 years for $36.5 million, with $19.5 million guaranteed. The average is about $7.5 million per season.