The Buffalo Bills have tremendous depth at wide receiver, boasting one of the top pass-catching groups in the NFL once again. That depth is obviously a good thing, but looking at it a bit closer, the team might have an undercover weakness lurking within a strength.
The majority of Buffalo’s depth at wide receiver is best suited to play in the slot. Of the projected top six receivers on the team, only two are really strong outside receivers. Going deeper into the group, there are seven wideouts who are primarily slot operators of the 11 receivers on the roster. That’s not to say that some of the players couldn’t serve as both, but it does expose a slight, albeit nitpicky, weakness in the roster construction.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we focus on a wide receiver who serves primarily on special teams.
Name: Jake Kumerow
Height/Weight: 6’4” 209 lbs
Age: 30 (31 on 2/17/2024)
Experience/Draft: 5; signed with the Cincinnati Bengals following the 2015 NFL Draft
Acquired: Signed reserve/futures with Bills on 1/26/2021 (second stint—initial signing came on 9/8/2020)
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Kumerow initially signed a one-year contract extension on March 10. That contract was worth a total of $1,187,500 overall. However, reports indicate that Kumerow was released on June 16 for salary cap purposes and then re-signed later that day. There’s no official note from the team of this having happened, however, and there is no updated contract to note.
2021 Recap: Kumerow appeared in 15 games this season, spending most of his time working on special teams for the Bills. He appeared on 69% of the team’s special teams snaps, a nice share of the work in that phase of the game. He also appeared on 11% of the snaps on offense. Kumerow saw six targets, recording two catches for 21 yards. He also had five tackles and a fumble recovery on special teams.
Positional outlook: Kumerow is one of 11 receivers vying for a spot on the roster. Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Jamison Crowder, Isaiah McKenzie, and Khalil Shakir all figure to factor heavily into the offense. Veteran Tavon Austin will battle McKenzie and Marquez Stevenson for the role as the team’s primary kickoff and punt returner. Neil Pau’u, Tanner Gentry, and Isaiah Hodgins round out the group.
2022 Offseason: Kumerow has participated in all offseason activities to date.
2022 Season outlook: There seem to be two ways this can go for Jake this year, and both involve him making the 53-man roster. He might remain in the exact same role as the one he had last year and the year before that, playing mostly on special teams while moonlighting occasionally as a wide receiver. It’s also possible that he could step up and serve as a more frequent offensive contributor, as he has the size and the hands to be a capable reserve receiving option for Josh Allen.
It’s a bit risky for a team with Super Bowl hopes to go into a season with a player who has just 39 career targets one injury away from major playing time, especially when that player is already 30 years old. Perhaps I’m overvaluing him a bit (scratch that—I know I am), but I think that a receiver group of Davis, Kumerow, Crowder, McKenzie, and Shakir could be effective in a short burst should the Bills have to go without Diggs for a stretch of time. Not everyone on the roster can be an All-Pro, and at some point, a team has to have the faith in its reserves to step in and do a job.
Kumerow is a solid veteran who is more than capable of stepping up in a pinch. His career-high numbers for receiving (12 catches, 219 yards, one touchdown, all from 2019 with the Green Bay Packers) are a low bar to clear, and if he sees 20% of the offensive snaps, I bet he sets new career highs in all three categories.