Bills Rumors: Former 1st Round Receiver Could Be Cut in Training Camp

Tavon Austin

Getty Tavon Austin #7 of of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up during the NFL London 2021 match between Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 17, 2021 in London, England.

The Buffalo Bills are going into training camp with a very crowded wide receiver room, and an insider believes that a former first-round pick and nine-year veteran may be the odd man out.

The Bills added some speed and versatility with the signing of 32-year-old Tavon Austin this offseason. He is expected to compete for a job both in the receiving corps and as a return specialist, but The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia predicted that Austin will be on the bubble and a likely candidate to be cut before the season starts.

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Austin Faces Uphill Battle

Buscaglia noted that the top of the receiving depth chart appears locked in, with Stefon Diggs holding down the No. 1 spot and Gabriel Davis earning No. 2 after a breakout season. Isaiah McKenzie’s spot appears safe as well after the team brought him back on a two-year contract, and free-agent acquisition Jamison Crowder comes with a solid track record of success in the slot. Rookie Khalil Shakir is expected to compete for targets out of the slot, and Jake Kumerow has an inside track to a roster spot due to his important role on special teams.

That leaves little room for Austin, with Buscaglia noting that he will be competing with 2021 draft pick Marquez Stevenson and Isaiah Hodgins for a spot. If one of them does earn a spot on the roster, it will likely mean less depth for another position group, he wrote.

“The most pressing debate will be if a seventh receiver can earn his way onto the roster; Stevenson, Hodgins and Austin will try their best to force the Bills to remove a number from a different position,” Buscaglia noted.

Buscaglia ultimately predicted that none of the three would earn a roster spot.

Austin Wants to Prove Himself

Austin admitted that he struggled last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he caught 24 passes for one touchdown and returned just two punts for a total of three yards. But the veteran speedster said he wants to prove he still has the skills that made him a first-round pick in 2013.

“That’s my dream again,” Austin told reporters. “I had took some tough injuries back in the day when I was with the Rams, and it kind of like deterred my career a little bit. I feel like a lot of people forgot about Tavon Austin. I can only say that I’m healthy now and I am looking forward to do those type of things out the backfield, slot, or outside or whatever the team may need me to be honestly. I know my skill set, I know mentally where I’m at and I know physically where I’m at.”

The Bills seem to think Austin still has it. He has turned in some impressive performances through OTAs and minicamp, and general manager Brandon Beane praised his skills.

“Tavon is 32 and you’re going, ‘I know he ran 4.2-something when he came out which is why he was drafted so high. You’re going, ‘What’s he look like now?’ I tell you what, in his workout he showed good speed and burst. He’s still got it,” Beane said via video conference.

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