NFL suspends Buffalo Bills wide receiver Walt Powell four games

Posted at 4:24 PM, Jun 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-08 18:33:26-04

The Buffalo Bills don't have a lot of depth at wide receiver as it is, which is why Thursday's news certainly won't help things for the team.

The NFL announced Thursday afternoon that Bills wide receiver Walt Powell has been suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the league's policy on using performance enhancing substances. Powell's suspension will be taking place for the first four weeks of the 2017 regular season, and he'll be eligible to return to the team's active roster on Monday, October 2.

In the meantime, Powell is allowed to participate in all remaining offseason practices, training camp practices, and preseason games before his suspension takes hold.

Powell, 25, issued a statement through the team:

“I was disappointed to recently find out that I had mistakenly used a product that caused a positive result during testing. Although I'm frustrated with the result, I've accepted the league's discipline of a four game suspension. I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire Bills organization and the Bills fans for my mistake. I will continue to give the Bills my best effort every day, and help contribute to a successful 2017 season.”

The wide receiver has been with the Bills since the 2015 regular season and caught 14 passes last season for the Bills.

Joe B's Take

After coming through for a second stint with Rex Ryan as his head coach, this was a crucial offseason to make a positive impression for Walt Powell with new Bills head coach Sean McDermott. With a wide receiver room that is there with roster spots for the taking, this is a tremendous misstep at this point in the 25-year-old's career.

Now we'll see how McDermott handles a situation like this, and if the wide receiver will still be given the opportunity to make the team by the end of the preseason. Powell, by way of his statement, acknowledged that he won't be fighting the league's decision on the matter, so he will serve the suspension for the first four games of the 2017 season.

Now, as McDermott and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison analyze the wide receiver depth chart as the spring and summer goes along, the suspension will loom in the back of their minds -- and it could be the difference in him making the team over another player that might have had a similar performance through all the practices this summer.

Powell has always impressed during practices with his ability to get open and make plays but had the reputation from Rex Ryan for not knowing the playbook inside out at times when the plays are being run on the field.

Perhaps going in his favor, though, the suspension means he will not count against the roster until the fifth week of the season, which means if the Bills wanted, they could keep him on board -- risk-free -- while keeping another player on the 53-man roster for the first four weeks.

Either way, it will be quite interesting to see how McDermott chooses to handle the situation with Powell, considering how much of a premium he has put on character within the locker room. If it really was an honest mistake, as he put in his statement, he'll likely need to prove that to McDermott -- and make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia