The Buffalo Bills have been at the center of the coronavirus vaccine conversation since the beginning of the NFL offseason.
After last season, which was filled with coronavirus restrictions, the NFL has decided to reward teams for reaching a certain percentage of both vaccinated staffers and players. The greater number of vaccinated individuals, the looser the restrictions that need to be followed.
Individuals who are vaccinated don’t need to receive daily testing, don’t have to wear masks in the club facility or during team travel, and also don’t have to quarantine after a high-risk exposure to the coronavirus. There are several other benefits, but it’s basically business as usual.
It has also caused vaccinations to become a hot topic this summer.
During the Bills’ OTA sessions in May, franchise quarterback Josh Allen was questioned about whether or not he received or planned to get the coronavirus vaccine. Allen said he was keeping that decision, along with his teammate’s decisions, in-house. But some of his teammates haven’t been so reticent about their choices.
Wide receiver Cole Beasley has been one of the most outspoken players in the league regarding vaccinations and the benefits of getting one. He recently went on a Twitter rant about it and let all of his followers know that he wasn’t planning on getting vaccinated before the season started.
Beasley’s comments drew a lot of criticism from the media, the league, and fans. They even caused a conversation that speculated Beasley would retire before the season started.
To follow it all up, Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News speculated that the veteran wide receiver, who was one of Allen’s top targets last year, could be cut by the Bills at the end of training camp.
“It’s possible Beasley saves the Bills the trouble if he follows through on his retirement threat because of the NFL’s Covid-19 protocols for unvaccinated individuals, but the Bills could remove the potential distraction themselves,” Skurski wrote. “That’s unlikely – again, these are supposed to be “surprise” candidates – but it shouldn’t be entirely ruled out.”
Skurski noted that if Beasley was released, the Bills would save $5.341 million against the salary cap this year, and his dead-hits the next two years would be $2 and $1.5 million, respectively.
Along with saving money, the Bills reporter wrote the team had enough depth at wide receiver where they could afford to let go of Beasley, and the distraction he’s been on social media this offseason.
Look, I’m just going to come out and say it. There is no way on God’s green earth that the Buffalo Bills cut Beasley heading into this season.
There’s absolutely no way.
In regards to Skurski’s article. He’s just doing his job, but Beasley was one of the best slot receivers in the game last season. He set career-highs in targets (107), receptions (82), yards (967), and was a safety blanket for Allen, earning a career-high 53 first downs.
Beasley also played throughout the playoffs this past season with a broken fibula and caught 14 passes for 145 yards.
Outside of Stefon Diggs, Beasley is one of Allen’s favorite targets. While Diggs led the NFL with 166 targets, Beasley’s 107 targets were the next best mark for the Bills.
But the zero-percent possibility of Beasley being cut by the Bills goes way beyond the product that the former Southern Methodist Mustang puts on the field. It has to do with the respect and the bond that he’s built with the rest of his teammates and the front office.
While the media has called Beasley’s comments a distraction, Beasley’s teammates have supported him throughout the ordeal.
When Buffalo News cartoonist Adam Zyglis sketched a “disturbing graphic” of Beasley, Poyer came to his defense.
Poyer also backed Beasley on Monday when the wide receiver disagreed with former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and his thoughts on players playing unvaccinated.
Beasley’s relationship with Allen has also been highlighted throughout his time in Buffalo and although some may call Beasley’s comments and approach to the way he is handling the coronavirus vaccine a distraction, no member of the Bills has come out and said he was one.
Since Sean McDermott took the reins in 2017, the Bills have become a cohesive unit and their culture has been highlighted by players supporting one another throughout the past few years. So, the only thing that could make this situation worse is if the Bills front office were to cut Beasley, which theoretically wouldn’t make any sense.
Beasley has been one of Buffalo’s top producers since joining the team in 2019 and has been consistent in his production as well.
But ask yourself this question: Are the Bills really crazy enough to part ways with one of their franchise quarterback’s favorite targets when they are in the midst of negotiating a major contract?
My thought is no. General manager Brandon Beane won Executive of the Year for a reason and the Bills aren’t about to risk losing one of the best slot wide receivers in the league because he was outspoken about getting the coronavirus vaccine.