By Paul Wanecski
Let me start this article off by saying that I hope this does not happen. Wide out and special teamer Chris Hogan has endeared himself to the residents of WNY with his consistent all-out effort and work ethic. With that said the NFL is a business and should be looked at as such. The draft is now just days away and as the depth chart has taken form, questions about the future of the depth at the wide receiver position are easy to ask.
As it stands, the WR depth chart reported on rotoworld.com reads as:
1. Sammy Watkins
2. Percy Harvin
3. Robert Woods
4. Marquise Goodwin
5. Chris Hogan
6. Marcus Easley
7. Marcus Thigpen
8. Deonte Thompson
9. Caleb Holley
10. Justin Brown
With Harvin expected to take over most of the kick return duties and Marcus Thigpen flashing game breaking ability on punt returns, the obvious issue becomes the futures of Chris Hogan and Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin battled injuries and was benched in favor of Hogan last season. When you look at Goodwin’s offensive stats, he has 18 receptions in 22 games and holds no practice squad eligibility. His future in Buffalo is most definitely in question.
Hogan is a different story. He displays everything you could ask of a player, essentially crawling a fighting his way up the Bills depth chart after being released by both Miami and Jacksonville. While he hasn’t blown anyone away statistically with is offensive production (51 catches in 32 games, 5 TDs), he did average over 10 yards per catch last season, catching 41 passes after week 5. Since finding his way on to the 53 man roster, he has been active for every game. He is signed to a $585,000 contract for 2015, which any NFL team would happily take on. Factor into play the four-year, $7 million contract that Marcus Easley signed this offseason and it is hard to ignore the vision for Hogan on the roster. He would be highly coveted by other teams looking to add a slot receiver and special teams threat for next to nothing in salary. The Bills have an excessive amount of WRs who also contribute on special teams and it would be surprising to see them enter the season with a depth chart similar to what they have now after the undrafted free agent signing period following the draft. Expect the Bills to take a shot at a late WR in the draft and bring in at least two from the undrafted free agent pool. They currently have the shortest starting 3 WRs in the league and they will need to look to get a bit more height.
Hogan means quite a bit to this team and its fan base. He is a player with great skills who has taken an unusual path to the NFL ranks. With Hogan, Goodwin, and Thigpen, it is not possible to retain all three without a series of injuries compromising the depth at the position. When you look at who is the most valuable to other teams, Hogan is the
clear cut winner. Let’s hope he gets to stay in Buffalo.