Cole Beasley returns to Buffalo despite stated desire to not be there

Cole Beasley Buffalo Bills
GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 07: Wide receiver Cole Beasley #11 of the Buffalo Bills during the NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers at State Farm Stadium on December 07, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

Despite being cut by Buffalo last year and retiring after two games with Tampa Bay earlier this season, Cole Beasley is reportedly returning to the Bills. 

NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo reported this morning that Beasley is coming out of retirement to sign with the Buffalo Bills for the stretch run. He will be added to the practice squad but will certainly have every possibility to be active on game days. 

News 4 Buffalo’s Louie Del Rio reported on Tuesday morning that this move is “all Josh Allen.” Allen allegedly asked the organization to re-sign both Beasley and John Brown, who was re-signed two weeks ago. The organization then approached the players in the locker room and “not one player” was opposed. 

The team’s willingness to appease their star player and bring in receivers he is comfortable with is commendable. In fact, Buffalo’s desire to build an offense around Allen’s skillset is exactly why he grew into the player he currently is. However, the move is also a condemnation of where the offense is now. 

The passing game averages 323 yards per game through the first six games but has only averaged 212 yards per game since then. While part of that has to do with Allen’s elbow injury and the increased emphasis on the run, anybody watching the games can tell you that this offense is not in sync. Some of that falls on the playcalling of first-time offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, but the receivers aside from Stefon Diggs have not stepped up. 

Gabe Davis has flashed big games but has been held under 40 yards in seven games this season, including each of the last three. It’s also a bigger indictment of Isaiah McKenzie, who was thrust into a full-time slot receiver role when Jamison Crowder fractured his ankle, and has struggled with drops and remains inconsistent in getting open against zone defense.

Hence the call to Beasley. 

Despite briefly retiring after a quick stint with Tampa Bay earlier this year, Beasley was surprisingly productive in that limited sample, catching four passes with the Bucs just five days after being signed off of the street. 

During his time in Buffalo from 2019-2021, Beasley was dominant as the main slot receiver. He hauled in 231 catches for 2,438 yards and 11 touchdowns during his three seasons with the Bills and was named an All-Pro in 2020 after catching 82 passes for 967 yards and four touchdowns.

Even last year, in his “down year,” Beasley averaged 3.7 yards after the catch per reception. This year, Gabe Davis averages the exact same, and McKenzie, who is seen as elusive and shifty, averages just 3.2 yards after the catch. While part of that, as stated above, may be game-planning, the simple fact is that the other receivers were given a chance to step up and fill the void and gain Josh Allen’s confidence and it didn’t happen.

It seems even McKenzie realizes it as he tweeted at Beasley this morning: “the floor is all yours.”

Beasley will return to the practice squad to push McKenzie and rookie receiver Khalil Shakir, but if he looks like the better option right now, Buffalo will not hesitate to elevate him on game day to provide the safety blanket that Josh Allen has been missing when he’s unable to go to Diggs. 

So while the move makes sense from a football perspective, it’s certainly an intriguing one when you factor in all of the off-field drama that surrounded Beasley in Buffalo over the last year. 

The receiver has become a controversial figure on social media for his public rejection of the COVID vaccine and also for his shows of support for Kyrie Irving and tweets that seem to criticize movements for racial justice and LGBTQ+ rights. Even though Beasley has stated in his own words that he “just like talking shit,” it has rubbed some fans the wrong way. 

In fact, when Beasley was cut by the Bills back in March, the comments from Brandon Beane made it pretty clear that Beasley didn’t want to be in Buffalo. As Matt Parrino reported at the time, “Beane said the Covid thing was tough on him and his family. Said Cole felt maybe a change for him and his family would be best. Beane said the Bills want people who want to be in Buffalo.”

The implication of that last line is clearly that Beasley didn’t want to be in Buffalo, which makes sense considering Beasley called out Bills fans in October of last year. 

That sentiment was later supported by Beasley himself, who said in September that he would not re-sign with the Bills and then just a month ago responded to a fan who was critical of his support of Kyrie Irving by saying that he’s glad he’s no longer in Buffalo. 

Cole Beasley tweets about not wanting to be in Buffalo

Except, now he is. For how long and whether his performance on and off the field will be enough for the fans to embrace him again is the next question. 

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Cole Beasley Buffalo Bills
Cole Beasley with the Buffalo Bills (Wikimedia commons)