Can The Bills Afford Gabe Davis’ Future Contract?

August 2, 2022

Welcome To The League

Gabe Davis was drafted with the 128th pick in the 2020 NFL draft. That year the Bills had taken him and fellow rookie Isaiah Hodgins. Many in Bills Mafia were much higher on Hodgins than they were on Davis. Coming into his rookie campaign Gabriel Davis was named to the third team All-American team and First Team All-AAC in 2019. That year he had 72 receptions for 1,241 yards with 12 receiving touchdowns. He was projected to be a project wide receiver who didn’t have much more of a route tree other than the go or curl. Boy was 31 general managers wrong about that.

Rookie Season

Let’s take a look back at his regular season numbers over his first year. For his rookie season, Davis finished with a stat line of 35 receptions for 599 yards and seven receiving touchdowns. In the wild-card game against the Colts, Josh Allen looked for Davis repeatedly in clutch moments and he answered the bell every time. During the following off-season again, Bills Mafia was split between wanting to see Davis step into the number two receiver role for his second season or wanting incoming veteran free agent Emmanuel Sanders to fill that role.

Super Sophomore

At the beginning of the season, the coaching staff and Josh Allen seemed to have trusted the veteran prowess that Sanders brought to the team and field. Early on Allen and Sanders had an incredible connection, especially in the red zone. Emmanuel opened the year with four touchdowns in the first five games including an absolute missile from Allen against the Chiefs in Week Five; however, it seems after that game Sanders’ age started to show itself and Davis took full advantage.

After the bye in Week Seven, Sanders never logged more than four catches which came in Week Eight during that pitiful Jaguars game that none of us will ever speak of again. After the slow start Davis had at the beginning of the season, he seemed to have taken over the trust of both the coaching staff and Josh Allen after that same Jaguars game. Davis had a crucial drop late in the game which would have put Buffalo in a position to kick a game-tying field goal. Since then, Davis was mister reliable coming up clutch in big-time moments.

Whether it was the record-setting four-touchdown performance in the playoffs or just being available to suit up for a game, Davis has been there when the team needed him. Starting in Week 14 Davis lined up on at least 71% of the offensive snaps while Emmanuel Sanders was sidelined with injuries till the playoffs. Davis finished the season with similar stats to his rookie season. 35 receptions for 549 yards and six touchdowns. Looking back his numbers were worse, so why is Bills Mafia so much higher on Davis this year than they were the year before?

Where Does Beane Go From Here?

Brandon Beane has many challenges ahead as far as who to retain in the next few off-seasons. Just to name a few, Tremaine Edmunds, Dawson Knox, Ed Oliver, and of course Gabriel Davis are all going to be looking for long-term and expensive contracts. Is there a world where Beane can pull it off and keep all of these high-end players not including the ones not named? It seems very unlikely, but we all know never to count out “Beane at night.”

If Davis has the year we’re hoping and expecting, what can we assume the contract looks like? After the market was set this year with the extensions of players like DK Metcalf and Terry Mclaurin received with the record-setting money, what will Gabe Davis command? The Bills extended Diggs this off-season with an overall six-year contract with an average annual salary of $21 million a year. If Davis proves himself to be a top commodity at the position he could command just under those numbers as well. Financially that puts the Bills in a tough position due to all the other upcoming contracts.

Decisions, Decisions

To put this into perspective, what position would you rather give 10% of the team’s salary cap over the next four years? A 24-year-old Pro-Bowl linebacker, an up-and-coming absolute stud of a defensive tackle, the tight end that led the league in receiving touchdowns last season, or the wide receiver who in two years has 70 receptions for 1,148 yards and 13 touchdowns. If those numbers had been done in one season, there wouldn’t even be a discussion to figure it out.

But after seeing how much success other teams around the league have had in drafting young wide receivers, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to think the Bills may be in a wide receiver rotation.

What I mean, is to be able to afford their number one wide receiver, there will always be a young stud on the roster like Davis as the number two or three option. To keep the cost of the wide receiver room down Beane may continue to only pay his number one receiver while sacrificing a day one or two picks in the draft every few years to try and grab the next stud receiver while signing mid-level veteran free agents to fill out the rest of the depth chart.

When the top receiver is older and his contract is up, the young stud steps in while receiving the new contract. Then Beane drafts another receiver, and the veteran takes a pay cut to stay or ends up leaving in free agency like Cole Beasley or John Brown have in the past. Now this is not predictive or what I personally hope happens, but this felt important to bring to light.

Unfortunate Truth

Buffalo is becoming so good they’re going to be unable to afford their own drafted players because not everyone is going to give a hometown discount as beautiful as that would be. It’s a new reality we as fans and Buffalo as an organization are going to have to deal with and overcome.

The old saying is “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” and Buffalo, we may be learning very soon just how much cake we can have and can afford. In a perfect world, we would be able to keep all these players on team-friendly deals while being able to afford the best free agents available. Unfortunately, that’s not our reality and soon enough we will be saying goodbye to some fan favorites. But until then, Go Bills!

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