The depth of the Buffalo Bills roster heading into the 2022 NFL Season is a huge blessing for the franchise overall, albeit, a curse for fringe players, such as wide receiver Tanner Gentry, looking to snag a spot on the 53-man roster.
Gentry, who’s been best friends with Bills quarterback Josh Allen since their playing days at Wyoming, was first signed to Buffalo’s practice in January 2021. While he spent the entirety of the 2021 NFL season on the practice squad, the Bills signed to another reserve/futures contract in February 2022.
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The 27-year-old receiver openly admitted to Buffalo Fanatics’ Mitch Broder in March 2021 that Allen was a huge part of him even getting a chance to play in Buffalo, and he was incredibly grateful.
“I know Josh had a little bit to do with it,” Gentry said. “The fact that they brought me on and gave me a chance to even get me in the door and show what I can do, it means the world to me and I’m ready to make the most of it.”
With mandatory minicamp starting next week, SB Nation’s Buffalo Rumblings analyst Sean Murphy assessed the likelihood that Gentry makes it to the active roster, and it’s not looking good.
The 6-foot-2, 209-pound receiver, “remains on the outside looking in with one of Buffalo’s deepest positional groups,” Murphy wrote.
Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, and Jamison Crowder are clear starters, while Isaiah McKenzie and Jake Kumerow are “likely to be among the top six,” Murphy noted. “Rookie Khalil Shakir has plenty of potential out of the slot. Marquez Stevenson is another returning player with speed and return ability. Neil Pau’u, Isaiah Hodgins, and Tavon Austin round out the group.”
With that kind of depth, “It’s hard to envision a scenario where Gentry makes the final roster, but it’s not a stretch to imagine him sticking on the practice squad. There’s just too much talent ahead of him here to make the case for a realistic push for a 53-man roster slot… The Bills have so much talent here that they’re going to cut legitimate NFL talent, which is a welcome change from the drought years.”
Gentry’s two-year contract is worth $1.755 million, per Spotrac.com, but only $10,000 is guaranteed. If he makes the active roster, he’ll earn a base salary of $835,000.
Gentry & Allen Got Close While They Were Both Injured at Wyoming
Gentry earned a D-1 scholarship to Wyoming, and by his junior year, was set to become the Cowboys’ top receiver. After seven games, where he recorded 37 receptions for 678 yards and four touchdowns, he suffered an AC Joint split stemming from the impact of a cornerback falling on top of him.
Just as Gentry hit IR, another player, who would later go on to become one of the most elite quarterbacks the NFL, was also recovering from an injury
“That’s when we started to get the closest,” Gentry told Broder of his friendship with Allen. “We were both down… we just tried to stick together… that off-season we got real close and started to put the work in together.”
The 2016 season turned out phenomenal for both players. During Gentry’s senior year, he caught 72 passes for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns while Allen threw for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns while completing 209 of his 373 pass attempts.
Gentry’s NFL Career Started With the Chicago Bears
Gentry initially signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and despite showing serious spark during the preseason, recording 70 yards and a touchdown, he landed on the practice squad. After appearing in four NFL games where he recorded a total of three catches for 35 yards, the Bears waived him in 2019.
The Mountain West second-team all-conference receiver then tried his luck with the XFL, getting selected by the New York Guardians. However, Gentry was placed on injured reserve before the start of the season and then COVID-19 shut down all league operations in April 2020.
After Genty joined the Bills practice on January 4, 2021, Gentry tweeted, “Glory to God!!! ❤️💙” and promised not to waste the opportunity.
“You’re about to get a dude who competes every single play,” Gentry told Buffalo Fanatics. “I’m going to make plays, I’m going to be a great teammate, I’m going to fight hard and we’re going to do everything we can to bring a championship to Buffalo.”
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