Most Valuable Bills: Isaiah McKenzie is No. 29

The wide receiver likely will be no higher than their fourth option at that position but could impact special teams as a returner.
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Six Buffalo Bills, including rookie Gabriel Davis, were targeted more than wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie by quarterback Josh Allen in 2020.

Yet the Bills chose to offer the then 25-year-old McKenzie a new contract when his expired, and McKenzie signed it.

Like pretty much all his teammates, McKenzie likes it in Buffalo. But there is always more to it than just liking an environment when it comes to turning down the opportunity to perhaps do and earn more elsewhere.

With Pro Bowl returner Andre Roberts out of the picture after two seasons in Buffalo, McKenzie will get a legitimate chance to return punts and kicks again fulltime, which he did as a rookie with the Denver Broncos before losing the job in Year 2 and being picked up by the Bills on waivers.

Thus McKenzie checks in at No. 29 on our projected list of the 30 Most Valuable Bills to be presented day by day leading up to the eve of training camp next month.

McKenzie attempted just one punt return in 2020 and took it 84 yards to the house during a 56-26 demolition of the Miami Dolphins to close the regular season.

That doesn't necessarily mean he's ready to step into Roberts' shoes.

"Playing that position in Buffalo, New York is not easy with the way wind blows and we get some weather from time to time," coach Sean McDermott said. "So it really becomes an art form and science.”

But there is no denying McKenzie's ability to change the momentum of any game.

Others in the battle include fellow receivers Brandon Powell and Marquez Stevenson, who are newcomers.

Choosing the right one will be difficult because the decision will have to be made long before the weather turns in upstate New York.

That's why we keep coming back to McKenzie, a survivor who not only beat long odds to make the team last year but earned a new contract this year and can impact games as a gadget player as well.

For instance, in addition to scoring on his only punt-return attempt last year, he also tossed a touchdown pass on his only throw, which came against the Arizona Cardinals.

McKenzie suddenly is the frontrunner, though it must be pointed out that he eventually failed as a returner in Denver, which often features similar weather conditions.

So lots to pay attention to this summer, folks.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.