Bills Release Josh Allen’s Best Friend, Veteran Wide Receiver Cut

Tanner Gentry

Getty Tanner Gentry #87 of the Buffalo Bills runs the ball after making a catch before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Highmark Stadium on August 28, 2021.

The Buffalo Bills are adjusting their roster ahead of their primetime matchup against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football, as one of the team’s starting tackles, Ed Oliver, suffered an ankle injury during their dominant 31-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams last week, and his status for Week 2 is up in the air.

The Bills announced on Wednesday, September 14, that they released wide receiver Tanner Gentry in order to sign defensive tackle Prince Emili to the practice squad.

Losing Gentry won’t have any effect on the Bills’ upcoming matchup against the Titans, as he’s never played a snap on the active roster, but he’s been a major figure of support to quarterback Josh Allen. The 27-year-old receiver has been best friends with Allen since their playing days at Wyoming and first signed with Buffalo in January 2021. Allen’s longtime girlfriend, Brittany Williams, is also close friends with Gentry’s wife, Kaytlyn.

Gentry spent the entirety of the 2021 NFL season on the practice squad, but the Bills signed him to another reserve/futures contract in February 2022. Gentry’s two-year contract was worth $1.755 million, per Spotrac.com, with only $10,000 is guaranteed. If he was elevated to the active roster, he was set to earn a base salary of $835,000.

However, Gentry had no realistic shot of making the 53-man roster this season, as the Bills’ depth, especially in the receivers’ room, is incredibly stacked. Back in March 2021, the 27-year-old receiver openly admitted to Buffalo Fanatics’ Mitch Broder 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.”

In July 2022, Gentry shared a similar sentiment on Instagram. He captioned a photo from training camp, “Thankful to play this game and for everyone who has helped me get here. Year 5.”

Following his release on Wednesday, fans sent support to Gentry on Twitter. “#BillsMafia loves you @Tanner4Gentry,” one man tweeted, while another person wrote, “Wish TG all the Best 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼.”


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 initially signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and despite showing a 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.


The Bills Initially Released Emili During the Final Round of Cuts

Emili first signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent out of Penn following the 2022 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-1, 297-pounder grew up a Bills fan and was thrilled to get a chance to play in Buffalo.

“When I found out I was coming to the Bills, just the reaction from my family and my community was kind of ridiculous,” Emili said in early August. “I got lots of people that went to school in Buffalo, so it’s really deep and kind of feels surreal still.”

While he was one of six defensive tackles released during the final round of cuts in August, the 23-year-old must be thrilled to be back. “I couldn’t really ask to be part of a better organization for my career,” Emili said before he was cut. “I’ve heard a lot, but the culture here is just different. Everyone’s down to come to work every single day, give 100%, and are down to give me tips and help me learn. I just feel like this is a great place for me to get better every single day.”

In addition to Oliver not practicing on Wednesday, defensive tackle Time Settle was also out, which could explain Emili’s signing. Buffalo already has two defensive tackles on their practice squad, Brandin Bryant and C.J. Brewer, so it’s not clear what the plan is with Emili long-term.

WGR 550’s Sal Capaccio tweeted, “Wondering if this is just some extra insurance on the roster in case Ed Oliver can’t go on Monday night?”

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