Cole Beasley comes out of retirement, signs with Buffalo Bills

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Wide receiver Cole Beasley has come out of retirement to join his former team, signing to the Buffalo Bills' practice squad Tuesday. He helps at slot receiver and adds to an offense that has had inconsistent production at the position at times.

Beasley, 33, spent two weeks on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad before deciding to retire in October. He was active with Tampa Bay for two games, with four catches for 17 yards. His agent, Joel Turner, told ESPN in October that he was retiring after 11 seasons to "be with his family after playing 11 seasons and it's time to be a full-time dad and husband."

He later tweeted on Nov. 6, in response to a fan asking why he retired from the Buccaneers, "They weren't going to use me. They have too many guys getting paid big money for them not to be on the field."

The wide receiver had requested permission to seek a trade from the Bills in early March but was ultimately released after no trade partner was found.

NFL Network first reported the news of Beasley returning to Buffalo.

The Bills also hosted free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on a visit over two weeks ago, but he left unsigned.

In his three seasons with the Bills (2019-21), Beasley was second on the team in receiving first downs (124). He finished last season with the same number of receptions as the year before (82) but 274 fewer receiving yards. He had only one receiving touchdown, his fewest in a season since 2012 (zero).

Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie was expected to fill the slot receiver position, but he has six drops this year and almost 100 fewer receiving yards in the slot (350) than Stefon Diggs (447). McKenzie leads the team in touchdowns from the slot with four. Relative to other teams, the Bills have had success with receivers in the slot this season. The team is second in receiving yards from the slot (1,346), fourth in slot receptions (111) and tied for eighth in receiving touchdowns from the slot (seven).

The Bills lead the league in drops (29).

The team also re-signed wide receiver John Brown to the practice squad this month, and he can be elevated to the active roster for one more game. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder remains on injured reserve with a broken ankle suffered at the beginning of October.

Beasley missed one game last season after testing positive for COVID-19 while being unvaccinated. Beasley had been vocal on social media about his thoughts on the NFL/NFLPA's COVID-19 policies, including previously threatening to retire over it. During the season, he decided to delete his Twitter account after labeling it a distraction. However, Beasley has returned to social media and has shared his thoughts on the NFL and various teams over the past few months. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Beasley was fined multiple times for COVID-19 protocol violations.

In November, Beasley tweeted that he didn't believe Nets basketball player Kyrie Irving should be suspended for tweeting about a movie containing antisemitic content and, in a since deleted tweet, said he won't miss that part of professional sports.

The best season of the wide receiver's career came in Buffalo. Beasley finished 2020 with 82 receptions for 967 yards (11.8 yards per reception) and four touchdowns. He also had 53 receiving first downs.

He spent his first seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and had 319 receptions for 3,271 yards and 23 touchdowns in 103 games for the franchise.

In a corresponding move, the Bills released wide receiver Marquez Stevenson from the practice squad. The team also signed defensive tackle Brandin Bryant to the active roster and released defensive tackle C.J. Brewer.