Bills Snag Promising Rookie TE After Surprise Release From Saints

Brandon Beane, Sean McDermott

Getty Bills head coach Sean McDermott (right) and general manager Brandon Beane.

Joel Wilson appeared to have a good chance to make the active roster of the New Orleans Saints after signing as an undrafted free agent, but after an unexpected setback, he will now try again as a member of the Buffalo Bills.

The Central Michigan tight end didn’t hear his name called at the NFL draft but was quickly picked up by the Saints in free agency. Though Wilson was seen as a strong prospect who could make an impact in the Saints’ thin tight end room,’s John Hendrix reported that he failed his entrance physical and was released. Wilson had suffered a season-ending ankle injury in November.

The Bills announced on May 22 that they had signed Wilson, who will now have another chance to make an impact on a team looking to bolster a once-thin tight end position.

Joel Wilson’s College Career

Wilson played in 34 games over his five-year collegiate career, making 82 receptions for 874 yards with 12 touchdowns. More than half of that production came in his final season in 2022, when he broke out with 44 catches for 445 yards with six touchdowns, earning All-MAC honors.

Wilson was a high school quarterback who converted to tight end in college and stood out as a pass catcher during his time at Central Michigan, according to Bob Rose of’s Saints News Network.

“A natural receiver, Wilson has terrific hands and is a reliable target,” Rose wrote in a story published May 10. “He shows a nice variation in his patterns and should be able to handle an expanded route tree. Wilson disguises his breaks well, allowing him to get separation, and shows strong awareness of zone concepts. After the catch, he is an elusive open-field runner capable of picking up extra yardage.”

Rose noted that Wilson still needs to improve his blocking but has the chance to become a solid NFL tight end.

Bills Beefing Up at Tight End

The Bills have struggled with depth at tight end in recent years, but they made moves this offseason to bolster the position. While Dawson Knox has been a standout — making 48 receptions for 517 yards and six touchdowns last season — the team was not able to find much production beyond that. The team’s other tight ends combined for just nine receptions for 91 yards and one touchdown last year.

But the Bills traded up in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft to snag Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid, who’d already caught the attention of Bills quarterback Josh Allen. He told The Buffalo News that he had pushed for the team to draft Kincaid and was excited to see what the 6-foot-4, 234-pound tight end could do in Buffalo’s offense.

“Obviously super excited to get a weapon like him,” Allen said. “He’s very fluid in his route running. He’s a very fluid ball catcher. He tracks the ball well, so any time you get to add a piece to your offense like that, I can’t help but be excited. He seems like he’s a smart kid. … He’s going to help us out a lot.”

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