Stefon Diggs was handed a massive contract extension by the Buffalo Bills. Isaiah McKenzie re-upped for two more years. Free agent Jamison Crowder came aboard too.
Yet it's another wide receiver making less than all of them who is expected to take the biggest step forward this coming season.
Gabriel Davis, entering the third year of his rookie contract, needs no introduction to members of the Bills Mafia. Everyone who follows the Bills closely knows his skillset and the damage he's expected to do to opponents this year.
But to the casual observer who looks mostly at the statistics and sees a receiver who's averaged just 2.2 catches per game over his first two seasons, it may come as a surprise if Davis finishes 2022 with more receptions and yards than he had in his first two seasons combined while entering the NFL's upper Pantheon at his position.
All signs point to this possibility, however.
- He's entering his third year, typically when everything comes together for players who flash great ability from the start, as Davis has done since his rookie season.
- Emmanuel Sanders, the veteran they brought in for one season a year ago, hasn't been re-signed and likely will take his 42 receptions for 626 yards into retirement with him.
- Players are eligible for contract extensions after their third season in the league.
- Davis has developed incredible rapport with quarterback Josh Allen that was on display in their most recent game, a 42-36 playoff loss at Kansas City in which he caught eight passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns.
- Nobody outworks him.
- He's part of an offensive juggernaut that easily can produce two 1,000-yard receivers if major injuries are avoided.
At 6-2, 210 pounds, with super explosion, route-running ability and speed, Davis still is just a pup who turned 23 two months ago. Yet he's a total package ready to be unwrapped and exploited for all he's worth in 2022.
Sanders last month said of Davis: "I've been around a lot of good receivers. He's a Pro Bowl-caliber player. This guy, the way he attacks the football, you give him the oopportunity to start? Think about what he did in the Kansas City Chiefs game. ... I feel like he's going to have a breakout year. He's a Pro Bowl-caliber player. I've been around a lot of good receivers — Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, Michael Thomas. This guy is different, and he's going to be a difference-maker for them."
Throughout his first two seasons, Davis has been the exemplary soldier, never complaining, always working.
Incredibly, Davis was targeted just 17 times, with 10 catches, through the first eight games of last season. That could be considered flat-out malpractice, even for an offense as loaded as this one.
Yet there was never a gripe, and his silence was deafening to coach Sean McDermott and the staff — in a good way.
All of this points to a season in which Davis will have no reason to complain.
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