Bills to add WRs Beasley, Brown, sources say

The Buffalo Bills intend to sign former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley and former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver John Brown, sources told ESPN.

Beasley will sign a four-year contract worth $29 million with $14.4 million guaranteed at signing, a source told ESPN, confirming a report by NFL Network. Brown will receive a three-year, $27 million deal, a source told ESPN, confirming a report by Adam Caplan.

Beasley reacted to the news on Twitter:

The signings of Brown and Beasley will address another position of need for the Bills’ offense, which ranked 30th in the NFL last season. Buffalo is also expected to sign deals with running back Frank Gore, tight end Tyler Kroft and center Mitch Morse when free agency officially opens Wednesday.

Brown, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the 2014 combine, adds much-needed speed to Buffalo’s offense. Beasley projects to play in the slot for the Bills, who lacked a consistent option for that role last season.

Bills wide receivers finished last season with 1,989 receiving yards, the fourth fewest in the NFL. That group was initially led by Kelvin Benjamin alongside 2017 second-round pick Zay Jones, but Benjamin was released in December so Buffalo could give more playing time to a younger and faster player, undrafted rookie Robert Foster.

Beasley, 29, developed into one of the NFL’s better slot receivers with the Cowboys, and he has an ability to find soft spots in zone coverages while also possessing elite quickness that makes him difficult to match up in man-to-man coverage.

Brown becomes the latest Ravens player to leave in free agency, joining linebackers Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith and C.J. Mosley.

Brown, 28, showed flashes of being one of the best deep threats in the NFL in his only season with the Ravens. Brown, Mike Evans and Tyreek Hill were the only receivers in the league to produce at least 700 receiving yards, five touchdown catches and an average of 17 yards per catch.

Beasley joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and worked his way up to become one of their more valuable receivers by his second season. Working mostly out of the slot, Beasley has caught 319 passes for 3,271 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career.

His best season came in 2016, when he set career highs with 75 catches for 833 yards as Dak Prescott’s favorite target. He also tied his career high with five touchdown receptions. His numbers dropped dramatically in 2017 — 36 receptions, 314 yards and four touchdowns — but he rebounded in 2018, finishing second on the team with 65 catches for 672 yards and three touchdowns.

At times, he expressed his frustration with his lack of opportunities, saying early this offseason that the Cowboys’ front office dictates who gets the ball. He backtracked slightly from those comments, but he wanted to be in a position to help an offense more.

The firing of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was seen as a potential bonus for the Cowboys in their attempt to re-sign him.

Beasley grew up in Little Elm, Texas, and played at SMU before joining the Cowboys in 2012.

Last season was wildly uneven for Brown because of the Ravens’ change at quarterback. In the first nine games, with Joe Flacco as the starter, Brown had 34 catches for 601 yards and four TDs. In his last seven games with Lamar Jackson, Brown managed eight receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown and watched a couple of passes sail over his head when he was wide-open downfield.

Brown signed a one-year, $5 million deal with Baltimore before last season in an effort to parlay a bigger deal in free agency in 2019. He delivered his best numbers — 42 catches for 715 yards and five touchdowns — since 2015.

Brown played in all 16 games for the second time in his career, which should quiet durability concerns. He was diagnosed with the sickle cell trait as a member of the Arizona Cardinals in October 2016, when MRIs revealed no issues with his sore hamstrings. Carriers of this trait are more likely to experience muscle breakdown when doing intense exercise than those who don’t have it.

A third-round pick (91st overall) in 2014, Brown played his first four seasons with the Cardinals before joining the Ravens. Over the past five seasons, Brown has caught 33 passes of 20 or more yards.

The loss of Brown continues a makeover for the Ravens at wide receiver. Baltimore cut Michael Crabtree in February, creating $4.7 million in cap space. Willie Snead is the only returning receiver for the Ravens who caught more than 20 passes in 2018.

The Bills also intend to sign former Washington Redskins offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with a source confirming that Nsekhe will receive a two-year, $14.4 million contract with $7.7 million guaranteed.

Although he was never a full-time starter in Washington, Nsekhe projects to start at right tackle for the Bills along a remade offensive line that will also feature a new center (Mitch Morse) and likely new right guard (Spencer Long). Nsekhe’s signing means the Bills are unlikely to re-sign Jordan Mills, who had been their starting right tackle since 2015.

NFL Network first reported the terms of Nsekhe’s deal.

ESPN’s Mike Rodak, Todd Archer and Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.

Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search