The addition of Cole Beasley to the Buffalo Bills wasn’t one which sent shockwaves across the NFL. Sure it was a boost to a rather uninspiring receiving core, but the small-statured slot receiver has only topped 800 yards once in his seven-year career.
However, with the way things have played out for the Bills, the Beasley signing has become increasingly valuable.
The biggest factor which has brought more importance to the acquisition has been the team’s injury woes at tight end.
Entering OTAs and training camp, Buffalo’s tight end situation seemed to be solid. The signing of Tyler Kroft and the draft selection of Dawson Knox were not flashy moves, but it appeared as though the club had some options at the position. Fast forward to now and Knox is battling back from a hamstring injury while Kroft is trying to recover from a broken foot which he suffered in May.
Sure, seventh-round pick Tommy Sweeney showed up with an encouraging performance in Week 2 of the preseason, however, it remains unknown if he will get consistent playing time when Kroft and Knox return to full health. So while the two apparent top options at tight end are trying to get back on the field, quarterback Josh Allen has been building meaningful chemistry with Beasley.
And after watching how the Bills deployed the 30-year-old receiver in Week 2 of the preseason, it’s evident that he’ll get most of his production in the middle of the field while serving as Allen’s security blanket – a role commonly occupied by tight ends.
On all but one of Beasley’s receptions, he was targeted in the centre of the field, which isn’t all that surprising considering he runs his routes out of the slot. A little shocking, though, was Allen’s dependency on him. Five of the QB’s nine completions were to Beasley, and 44 of his 102 passing yards were accumulated by the veteran receiver.
Finishing last (33rd) among qualified QBs last season in completion percentage, Allen will benefit immensely in that category by Beasley’s arrival. In the Bills’ Week 2 preseason game where Beasley hauled in five receptions, the second-year gunslinger went 9-for-11, meaning the former Dallas Cowboy was targeted on almost half of Allen’s attempts. Known as a QB who possesses great mobility and arm strength, No. 17 may be more likely to make the short-yardage pass knowing that he has a reliable target in Beasley to check the ball down to. More high-percentage passes can also help prevent Allen from turning the ball over. In 12 games started as a rookie, he threw 12 interceptions.
With so much uncertainty at TE, Beasley has carved out a role larger than what was initially thought of him. His sure-handedness and ability to get open underneath the defence will be a great asset for Allen as he continues to develop in year two.