Cole Beasley Ends Retirement to Sign Bills Contract amid Odell Beckham Jr. Rumors

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 13, 2022

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 18: Wide receiver Cole Beasley #11 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates his touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium on October 18, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Veteran slot receiver Cole Beasley is coming out of retirement to return to the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo announced Tuesday that it has signed Beasley to its practice squad, a move NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported was expected.

The 33-year-old spent three seasons in Buffalo from 2019 to 2021 before going unsigned in free agency this past offseason. Beasley signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in September and appeared in two games, but he announced his retirement in October.

Buffalo has been in the market for a veteran wideout, as it recently hosted free-agent Odell Beckham Jr. on a visit. OBJ visited with the Bills, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, and as noted by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, both the Bills and Cowboys have signed other receivers: The Bills inked Beasley, and the Cowboys brought in T.Y. Hilton.

It's uncertain whether Beckham, who suffered a torn ACL in the Super Bowl last season, will play this year. Beckham himself created some doubt, saying last week that he doesn't "see the point" of trying to play during the 2022 regular season.

Beasley is a much different player in that he operates almost exclusively out of the slot and isn't much of a downfield threat, but he could be a great fit in Buffalo.

The savvy veteran is familiar with the Bills and their offensive system, although they do have a different offensive coordinator this season in Ken Dorsey following Brian Daboll's departure to become head coach of the New York Giants.

Beasley spent the first seven years of his NFL career with the Cowboys before signing with Buffalo in 2019 and enjoying three of the most productive seasons of his career.

He finished with 67 receptions for 778 yards and a career-high six touchdowns in 2019 before reaching new heights in 2020 with a career-high 82 catches and 967 yards to go with four touchdowns en route to being named a second-team All-Pro.

Last season was more of a struggle for Beasley, as he was banged up throughout the year. Despite that, he missed only one game and matched his career high with 82 receptions, although those grabs went for just 693 yards and one touchdown.

Beasley's 8.5 yards per catch matched the career low he set as a rookie in 2012, but he continued to excel at moving the chains, as 37 of his receptions went for first downs, which tied for the fourth-best mark of his career.

The Bills are the top team in the AFC this season at 10-3, and quarterback Josh Allen has mostly played well, although his 11 interceptions are tied for third-most in the NFL.

One of the biggest issues for Allen and the Buffalo offense has been a lack of reliable options in the passing game outside of superstar wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Tight end Dawson Knox has taken a step back compared to his career year in 2021, while No. 2 receiver Gabe Davis has not progressed as much as hoped after going off for four touchdown catches against the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs last season.

The Bills also hoped Jamison Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie would replace Beasley's production out of the slot, but injury has limited Crowder to four games, and McKenzie has not been sure-handed with five drops on the year, per Fox Sports.

Buffalo is tied for the NFL lead in dropped passes this season with 25, per NBC Sports, which is why it makes perfect sense to bring back one of the more reliable slot receivers in the game.

If the Bills elevate Beasley from the practice squad to the active roster, his first opportunity to play will come Saturday night when the Bills host the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins with a chance to clinch a playoff spot.