WR Beasley comes out of retirement to return to Buffalo Bills

FILE - Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley is shown prior to an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, November 21, 2021 in Orchard Park, NY Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, December 13, 2022. ( AP Photo/Jeff Lewis, File)

FILE – Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley is shown prior to an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, November 21, 2021 in Orchard Park, NY Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, December 13, 2022. ( AP Photo/Jeff Lewis, File)

AP

Receiver Cole Beasley ended a brief retirement to extend his career by reuniting with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday.

Beasley was signed to Buffalo’s practice squad and returned to the team, which cut him in March over salary cap concerns and after failing in an offer to trade him. The 11th-year player was unemployed until he was signed to Tampa Bay’s practice team in late September.

Beasley, 33, had four catches for 17 yards in two games with the Buccaneers before announcing his retirement on Oct. 5.

The AFC leaders Bills (10-3) have won four straight games and have a chance to win their third straight AFC East title. Buffalo host division rivals Miami (8-5) on Saturday night.

Despite the success, the Bills continue to look for consistent performance from their receiving group behind Stefon Diggs on an offense that ranks second in yards gained and sixth in yards passing in the NFL.

Diggs bears much of the burden. His 94 catches for 1,239 yards and 10 touchdowns is almost twice that of Buffalo’s next receiver, Gabe Davis, who has 38 catches for 696 yards and six points.

The Bills have had particularly inconsistent play in the slot receiver position, with Jameson Crowder sidelined since Week 5 and Isaiah McKenzie struggling to fill the role.

Buffalo was one of three teams that free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. recently visited to return to the NFL after torn knee ligaments during the Super Bowl while playing for the Los Angeles Rams in February . The Bills also recently brought back former wide receiver John Brown, who spent the 2019 and 20 seasons starting alongside Beasley.

In three seasons with Buffalo, Beasley established himself as one of the team’s biggest threats while playing the slot on one of the NFL’s best passing offenses. He had 231 catches for 2,438 yards and 11 touchdowns in Buffalo, with Beasley’s production rate surpassing the numbers he had in his first seven seasons at Dallas, where he had 319 catches for 3,271 yards and 23 TDs.

Beasley’s highlights included playing through a broken leg while helping the Bills reach the 2020 AFC Championship game, which Buffalo lost to Kansas City.

However, Beasley caused a stir the following offseason by going public with his anti-COVID-19 vaccination stance, leading to him threatening to resign at one point. Despite setting a career-best 82 catches in 2021, he rushed for just 693 yards and one count in 16 games — both lows with Buffalo — and struggled to open against man-coverage.

In other moves, Buffalo added defensive tackle Brandin Bryant to the active roster on Tuesday after being cut by Houston this week. Bryant is a fourth-year player who has spent parts of the last three seasons at Buffalo and was cut by the team in October.

The Bills made room for the additions by releasing defensive tackle CJ Brewer and practice squad receiver Marquez Stevenson.

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This story was originally published December 13, 2022 11:55 am.

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