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Gabe Davis Bills

Bills’ Gabe Davis Facing Make-Or-Break Season In 2023

  • Justin Melo
  • July 12, 2023
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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis failed to take advantage of an opportunity to establish himself as Buffalo’s No. 2 receiver in 2022. Davis may receive another opportunity in 2023. It positions Davis for a make-or-break campaign.

Expectations were sky-high for Davis after his historic 200-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in a 2021 playoff defeat. In 2022, Davis was rightfully awarded an opportunity to prove he’s the ideal running mate for Stefon Diggs. The results were fairly disappointing. Davis and superstar quarterback Josh Allen weren’t on the same page, and Davis hauled in just 51.6% of his targets (48-of-93). He had as many drops (7) as touchdowns (7), per Pro Football Focus.

The Bills were expected to add competition to Davis’ role this offseason. That projection didn’t come to fruition. Bills general manager Brandon Beane did less than expected to acquire talent at the position. Deonte Harty and Trent Sherfield were signed to low-cost contracts in unrestricted free agency. Despite being connected to high-end receiver prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, Beane didn’t actually draft one until the fifth round. Florida’s Justin Shorter won’t pose an immediate threat to Davis.

The Bills did draft a pass-catcher with their first-round selection, albeit at tight end. Utah’s Dalton Kincaid offers Allen another exciting option in the passing game, but Kincaid is a big-bodied tight end that obviously isn’t a like-for-like replacement for Davis, even if he does somewhat eat into Davis’ target share.

The Bills are expecting sophomore receiver Khalil Shakir to take a step forward. But Shakir is likely to just complement Diggs and Davis from the slot position in three-receiver sets. Shakir was viewed by some as a slot-only receiver coming out of Boise State. The Bills allowed similar players to leave in free agency (Jamison Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie).

Davis played 855 snaps on the boundary last season. By comparison, Shakir took more snaps in the slot (160) than out wide (144) as a rookie, per PFF. Shakir has some inside-outside versatility, but unless Harty or Sherfield pull an upset by surpassing Davis on the depth chart, Shakir will be asked to command the slot.

The Bills also haven’t truly entertained adding DeAndre Hopkins in free agency. Hopkins has been loosely connected to the Bills throughout the process, but he’s likely to sign with the New England Patriots or Tennessee Titans. Beane won’t overpay for Hopkins, who is attracting significant interest elsewhere.

Davis appears set to maintain his position as Buffalo’s No. 2 receiver in 2023. He’ll receive another opportunity to star in a high-volume passing attack that helped Buffalo score a second-ranked 28.4 points per contest.

Motivation shouldn’t be an issue. Davis is likely eager to place a disappointing 2022 in his rearview mirror. The former UCF standout is also entering a fate-deciding contract season. Davis is scheduled to earn a base salary of $2.7 million in 2023, according to Spotrac. Davis must be consistently more impactful if he hopes to land a lucrative multi-year contract next offseason, whether in Buffalo or elsewhere.

Davis appears to have survived the summer. The Bills didn’t add legitimate competition in the offseason. Davis will receive one final opportunity to retain his role in Buffalo’s high-octane offense. It’s now or never for Davis in Buffalo.

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Justin Melo