The news didn't exactly come as a surprise, but it stung nonetheless. Slot receiver Cole Beasley is leaving the Dallas Cowboys for the Buffalo Bills. According to reports, Beasley's new contract is for four years and $29 million, with $14.4 million guaranteed.
In losing Beasley, 29, the Cowboys lost a fan favorite and a safety valve for quarterback Dak Prescott. If this were the early '90s and the NFL had yet to implement the salary cap, Beasley, who joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2012, would probably stay with the team for his entire career. There is a salary cap, however, and Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarcus Lawrence and Amari Cooper all need contract extensions, so the Cowboys can't afford to spend $7 million-plus on a slot receiver.
That's not to say the Southern Methodist University/Little Elm HS alum won't be missed. Despite being undersized — 5-foot-8 — and lacking elite speed, Beasley made the most of his best attribute, agility, to consistently get open, especially on third down and in the red zone. He runs the pivot route as well as any receiver in the NFL.
Off the field, Beasley was the latest in a long line of amusingly flaky Cowboys. He released a rap album, sparred with critics on social media and made the most out of his "hot sauce" touchdown celebration.
In Buffalo, Beasley will play in an offense similar to Dallas'. Josh Allen, the Bills QB, is mobile and not exactly a precise passer, just like Prescott. Playing outside in upstate New York eight games a year will certainly be more challenging than doing the same in Jerry World's air-conditioned comfort (the Bills will, however, face the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in 2019).
The Cowboys don't exactly have a ready-made replacement for Beasley among their receivers, although Cooper, the team's unquestioned No. 1, is comfortable playing in the slot, as is free agent Tavon Austin, who looks likely to return to the team for 2019. There are generally plenty of Beasley types waiting to be selected in the latter rounds of the NFL draft, too, if the Cowboys choose to go in that direction.