The second Duke Williams era came to a swift end in Buffalo.
The wide receiver, who bounced between the practice squad and active roster for much of his two years with the Bills, is gone after being cut from injured reserve with an injury settlement. Williams had been waived earlier in the week but returned to the team after clearing waivers, with the Bills placing him on the injured reserve list.
As WGR 550’s Sal Capaccio reported on Twitter, there is still a chance that Williams could find his way back to Buffalo, but not in the immediate future.
“Duke is now officially gone from the Bills roster. He is free to sign with any other team and play in 2021,” he tweeted. “The Bills can re-sign him to the active roster once the injury settlement time has passed (unknown right now) + 3 more weeks after that.”
The second release ends a two-year run for the once-popular wide receiver, who started and made some key plays during the 2019 season.
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Williams Made His Mark in Buffalo
Williams first came to Buffalo with some high expectations, having led the CFL in receiving yards in 2019. The 28-year-old started three games in his first season with the Bills, catching a game-winning touchdown pass against the Tennessee Titans and starting the team’s playoff game against the Houston Texans. He caught a total of 12 passes that season for 166 yards and one touchdown.
Williams fell toward the bottom of the depth chart last season, appearing in just one game. He failed to stand out through two preseason games with the Bills this year, playing a total of 51 offensive snaps and catching just one of his six targets for 8 total yards.
Bills Get Reinforcement for Receiving Corps
As the Bills parted ways with Williams, two other receivers made their return after a brief absence from the team. As ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques reported, Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis were both activated from the COVID-19/reserve list on Friday. As the report noted, the pair had not been with the team for much of the week after a close contact. Vernon Butler and Star Lotulelei had also been placed on the reserve list, but were activated again on Friday.
“Despite testing negative for the COVID-19 virus, all four players were placed on the list after the NFL designated them close contacts of a vaccinated training staff member who tested positive for the virus Tuesday morning,” Louis-Jacques noted. “Each player spent five days away from the facility, retroactive to their exposure.”
Beasley also faced a $16,650 fine from the NFL for not wearing a mask for a brief time inside a team facility. As Louis-Jacques reported, Beasley is unvaccinated and could potentially face more time away from the team if he is deemed a close contact of anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.
Beasley, who has been one of the league’s most vocal critics of vaccines, spoke out this week about what he saw as unfair punishment.
“It’s common sense that if a vaxxed or unvaxxed player is tested less frequently, the likelihood of a player being pulled for COVID drops dramatically,” Beasley tweeted. “In regard to player safety, I’ll conclude by saying we all want to be safe.”