Former Bills Wide Receiver Suddenly Released by Browns: Report

Marquez Stevenson

Getty Former Bills wide receiver Marquez Stevenson returns a punt for a touchdown during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 21, 2021.

When Cole Beasley decided to come out of retirement and join the Buffalo Bills practice squad late last season, the team made room for the veteran slot receiver by cutting Marquez Stevenson, their sixth-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft.

Stevenson didn’t remain jobless for long. One day after his release. the Cleveland Browns signed the receiver/return specialist to the practice squad.

While Stevenson never appeared in a regular season game with Cleveland, the Browns signed the Houston alum to a futures deal in January. However, on Tuesday, May 9, Cleveland announced the 25-year-old’s sudden release.

According to USA Today‘s Jacob Roach, “The Browns needed to waive a couple of players ahead of rookie minicamp to make room for all of the added undrafted free agents. The bottom of the roster will likely see a ton of turnover between now and training camp for the team to feel good about the 90-man heading into training camp. General manager Andrew Berry also hinted at the possibility that more moves could come in the next couple of weeks.”

Marquez Stevenson’s Journey With the Buffalo Bills was Rough

After getting drafted by Buffalo, Stevenson, whose nickname is “Speedy,” hit injured reserve before the 2021 NFL season started. Losing Stevenson was a tough blow for the Bills as he was showing serious flashes of promise.

During the Bills’ preseason opener against the Detroit Lions in 2021, he caught a 42-yard pass from quarterback Jake Fromm, which set up the game-winning kick by Tyler Bass. In Buffalo’s second preseason tilt against the Chicago Bears, he returned a punt in the third quarter, taking the ball 73 yards to the end zone. It was during that play Stevenson appeared to injure his foot/ankle.

Marquez Stevenson

GettyFormer Bills receiver Marquez Stevenson on the field during training camp at the Adpro Sports Training Center on July 28, 2021.

After missing 11 games, Stevenson returned to play in November, with most of his snaps coming on special teams. In five game appearances, Stevenson averaged 9.4 yards on 14 punt returns and 23.6 yards on seven kick returns. However, after losing two fumbles, the Bills looked to safety Micah Hyde to handle return duties.

Just before the 2022 NFL season started, Stevenson was looking to make a fresh start but hurt his foot again during training camp. He didn’t appear in any regular season games with the Bills before his release.

The Bills Appear Set With Nyheim Hines as the Bills’ Return Specialist

Nyehim Hines

GettyNyheim Hines #20 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates after Buffalo’s 35-23 win against the New England Patriots at Highmark Stadium on January 08, 2023.

It’s highly unlikely the Bills look to re-sign Stevenson as they have running back Nyheim Hines on the roster, who proved he can be special teams ace after rushing two kickoff return touchdowns against the New England Patriots last season.

While Bills general manager Brandon Beane discussed utilizing Hines more on offense following Buffalo’s playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the team went on to sign running back Damien Harris this offseason and recently added veteran Latavius Murray.

The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia wrote on Tuesday, “The substantial guaranteed money for both Harris ($1.4 million) and Murray ($802,500) suggests it could even be a competition between the two power backs to see who the complementary rusher will be. Unless he takes to the offense this summer, Hines will likely be a kickoff and punt returner specialist with offensive snaps sprinkled in.”