It was the result that every Bills fan was hoping for this offseason. Buffalo's top receiver Stevie Johnson was a free agent, and though the Bills and Johnson both wanted to prolong their relationship there was concern as to whether the dollar figures could work for both parties. After a methodical process of give and take the Bills have their biggest receiving threat back in the fold for 2012 and beyond.
In 2011 Johnson became the first receiver in Bills history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. More importantly he had a solid on-field rapport with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who was handed a multi-year contract extension last October.
Over the past two seasons 25 percent of Fitzpatrick's completions have gone to Johnson. Almost 30 percent of his passing yards the past two years have been accumulated by Johnson. And more than a third of the team's passing touchdowns the last two seasons have been made by Fitzpatrick and Johnson (36%).
The figures are a clear indicator of Johnson's importance to Buffalo's passing game on an offense that head coach Chan Gailey has stated in the past is a 'pass to set up the run' attack.
Johnson also emerged as the most productive passing weapon in the league against 1st team All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis of the division rival Jets. The fifth-year receiver had 11 catches for 159 yards and the only touchdown in two games against Revis last season.
Not re-signing Johnson would have left a cavernous hole at the receiver position for the Bills. General manager Buddy Nix has stated more than once this offseason that he'd like to add another big receiver to line up opposite Johnson on the outside to further augment the passing attack.
With Johnson locked up for the foreseeable future Buffalo can set about to accomplishing the next objective for Chan Gailey's offense.