Robert Woods makes case to be among top receiver free agents in 2017
Robert Woods couldn't have picked a better time to have a career game.
The Buffalo Bills' fourth-year wide receiver is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, and in front of a national television audience Monday night in Seattle, Woods set career-highs with 10 catches for 162 yards.
The performance wasn't enough to get the Bills the victory over the Seahawks, but during the Bills' only Monday night game of the season, Woods did himself a favor when opposing coaches, general managers and scouts were watching closely.
In 52 career games, it was only the third time that Woods has surpassed 100 receiving yards. The 2013 second-round pick, who remains USC's career receptions leader, has struggled to stand out on a national stage since entering the NFL. After he was the victim of poor quarterback play from EJ Manuel and Thad Lewis in 2013, Woods had his best season with Kyle Orton under center in 2014, catching 65 passes for 699 yards and five touchdowns.
Last season, Woods played through a torn groin muscle and was used more for his blocking in Greg Roman's run-heavy offense. He finished with 47 catches for 552 yards and three touchdowns, numbers that would earn him, at most, a mid-level deal on the free-agent market.
Woods has dealt with injury again this season, missing a Week 7 loss to Miami with a foot injury and playing through the same injury during a Week 8 loss to New England. In eight games, Woods has 39 catches for 452 yards, putting him well within range to eclipse his 2014 career highs over the Bills' remaining seven games.
Among wide receivers eligible to become unrestricted free agents in March, Woods' receiving yards this season rank behind only Los Angeles' Kenny Britt, Chicago's Alshon Jeffery and Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor. Other notable potential free agents include DeSean Jackson, Brian Quick, Pierre Garcon, Brandon LaFell, Steve Smith, Terrance Williams, Jeremy Kerley, Kenny Stills, Kendall Wright, Quinton Patton, Anquan Boldin, Ted Ginn, Michael Floyd, Cordarrelle Patterson and Vincent Jackson.
The Bills are unlikely to use the franchise tag on Woods, whose value to the offense isn't nearly enough to justify the potential $15 million salary-cap hit the tag would necessitate. The more likely candidate for the franchise tag would be cornerback Stephon Gilmore, although Gilmore's up-and-down play this season has made that less probable.
Woods and Gilmore headline a deep class of unrestricted free agents for the Bills next spring. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor,running back Reggie Bush, fullback Jerome Felton, receivers Marquise Goodwin, Percy Harvin, Justin Hunter and Brandon Tate, tight end Chris Gragg, right tackle Jordan Mills, defensive linemen Corbin Bryant and Leger Douzable, outside linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Lerentee McCray, inside linebackers Zach Brown, Brandon Spikes and Ramon Humber, cornerback Corey White, and safeties Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks, Robert Blanton, Colt Anderson and Sergio Brown are also set to hit the open market in March.
Backup running back Mike Gillislee, punter Colton Schmidt, guard Ryan Groy and outside linebacker IK Enemkpali are all eligible to become restricted free agents for Buffalo.
This is from by Mike RodakESPN Staff Writer