The Buffalo Bills have their work cut out for them in the 2017 offseason. With only 44 players signed as of February 7, 2016, that means the team will need to replenish more than half of the roster they take to training camp in late July.
Adding to that overhaul, the Bills have a total of 34 free agents to have to make a decision on in the offseason. There are 23 unrestricted free agents, 8 restricted free agents, and 3 exclusive rights free agents.
Leading up to the start of free agency, WKBW will take a look at each of the unrestricted and restricted free agents that the Bills will be forced to make a decision on.
Up next, a wide receiver that has started all four years he's been in the league:
WR Robert Woods
Age: 24 (turns 25 in April)
2017 Stats: 13 games, 51 receptions, 613 yards, 12.0 YPC, 1 TD
Career Stats: 57 games, 203 receptions, 2,451 yards, 12.1 YPC, 12 TD
The case for Robert Woods
- Although he isn't the flashiest of wide receivers, Woods has been consistently solid for the Bills since he entered the league in 2013. As number-two wide receivers go you can do a lot worse than Woods, who at 24 years old, likely still hasn't put together a season that shows him off as a starting player. Since entering the league, all Woods has known is questionable quarterbacking. And even when Tyrod Taylor came to the Bills and showed he was better than what they had at quarterback previously, there was also plenty of times where Woods was running open, and wouldn't be seen even though he was in Taylor's potential line of vision. His age, route running, and dependability over his career make him into a viable target in free agency. After Sammy Watkins, the Bills don't have much signed for 2017 at wide receiver, which could make Woods someone they would look to bring back.
The case against Robert Woods
- Because Woods is so young, and there has a bit of an 'untapped potential' air to him, he could wind up doing quite well on the free agent market this offseason. The Bills are the only team that truly knows what Woods is all about, and really how high his ceiling is in the NFL, and if he's worth the type of money he could receive from a team in need of a wide receiver. You don't have to look further than the last offseason, and the free agent deals struck with Marvin Jones in Detroit and with Mohamed Sanu in Atlanta. Each player signed a five-year deal, with Jones receiving an average of $8 million per season and Sanu getting an average of $6.5 million a year. Due to inflation of the salary cap, it's fair to expect Woods' value to be in that range, or perhaps even a tad higher. He's a dependent player, but that might be a price of admission that's just a bit too costly.
What will the Bills do?
- While the Bills don't have much behind Sammy Watkins, they also don't have much cap room to do all the things that they likely want to do. With so many questions on the defensive side of the ball, and still with some other free agent wide receivers (Marquise Goodwin, Justin Hunter) that can be brought back on lesser deals, it likely makes the most sense for the Bills to initially inquire on Woods, but to ultimately pass if his price tag is going to be in the $8 million per season range. Woods is a good player and a definitive complementary starter in the league. However, with so many self-inflicted questions about the quarterback position, the lack of cap flexibility this year, plus the knowledge that they'll inevitably have to pay Watkins a great deal to keep him in a Bills uniform, it all points to Robert Woods finding greener grass in free agency.