Bills general manager Brandon Beane received a call around Thanksgiving from WR Cole Beasley, who expressed interest in still playing football despite being retired. Internal conversations continued for a few weeks and after finding a way to fit Beasley into the roster, Beane said it made sense to bring him back.
The GM talked to Beasley again Monday morning and within a couple of hours, he hopped on a flight to Buffalo. About 24 hours later, the team announced the veteran wide receiver was coming out of retirement and signing with the Bills practice squad.
"The retirement was more of — it wasn't the situation I thought it was going to be going to Tampa — so all I knew is that wasn't where I wanted to be," Beasley said. "So went home from there, but I've still been working out, still wanted to play, reached out to Brandon."
"I didn't like the way things ended here. I told him that and when I first got here, me and my family fell in love with this place. So just wanted to get back to that and end it off right."
While Beasley's role is still to be determined in the offense, his familiarity with the Bills offense can be a boost down the stretch.
"He's an extension of the run game," Beane added. "When people are just trying to take away the deep stuff, and you need those guys finding the holes in the middle when you got to throw it third-and-3, third-and-5, whatever the down and distance is. I think Cole has proven to be that."
"When I first got here, me and my family fell in love with this place. So just wanted to get back to that and end it off right.” Cole Beasley
Beasley expressed how hard it was to sit and watch people play the game he loved since he still had the motivation to be out there with them, which was one of the many reasons he reached out to Beane in hopes of getting back on the field.
"I was retired, but I didn't want it that way," Beasley said. "It was hard just watching football every week and especially seeing the guys. I missed warmups, like that's some of my favorite times, just with the guys in the locker room getting ready for the game. I just missed that so much, and then just playing the game itself."
And in case the opportunity to play again ever came up, Beasley made sure to keep conditioning a priority. So just like he did his first few years in the league, he turned to pickup basketball for training.
"I wouldn't touch a route the whole offseason until OTAs. That's how I trained my first six years," Beasley said. "I played quarterback in high school so me playing the slot was all just from playing basketball. I was just trying to figure out how to get open. So, a lot of it comes from that."
Beasley was with the Bills from 2019-2021 and tallied 231 receptions for 2,438 yards and 11 touchdowns during that time. In those three seasons, the WR had a strong rapport with QB Josh Allen, so Allen and the rest of the Bills locker room were "all for it" when they heard that he would be returning to Buffalo.
"We've been talking the whole season," Beasley said. "I've missed them so much. The bond that I built with these teammates here are stronger than any bond with any team that I've ever been with. I mean, only played for two but it's a different team every year. Played seven with the Cowboys, but the three here just left a huge mark on me and it's hard being away from the guys."
Allen acknowledged the strong communication he has with Beasley on the field, crediting that to the way he sees the field like a quarterback, especially in zone coverages. While it may take some time to get their connection to where it was last season, Allen said the team will is excited to have him back in the offense whenever he's ready to play.
"When it comes to zone coverages, he knows where defenders should be at," Allen said. "He knows leverages, he knows what windows I'm looking at, and he's just got such a good feel. If he's not seeing me, he's gonna find a window where he can see me and, again, just smart where he knows when it's man or zone. We run different concepts with him because he can read basically two guys at one time, which not everybody can do."
After his first practice back with the team, Beasley said the offense and the terminology used are still the same, but plays are called a little differently. While it's uncertain if Beasley will take the field Saturday night against the Miami Dolphins, he expressed that he wants to write wrongs around Buffalo and be back with his teammates while playing the game he loves.
"I'm happy to be back here," Beasley said. "I feel like this is the place I belong. Being somewhere different for a little bit, it just didn't feel right to me. So I'm glad to be back here with all the guys I'm familiar with and I missed them to death so it's awesome."
Check out the best practice photos from Wednesday as the Bills prep for Saturday's game against Miami.
After conducting a walk-through practice on Tuesday, the Bills returned to the practice field on Wednesday afternoon to prepare for Saturday night's AFC East matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
DT Ed Oliver (pectoral) and FB Reggie Gilliam (ankle), who did not play last Sunday against the Jets, were limited in Wednesday's practice. Ahead of practice, head coach Sean McDermott said both Gilliam and Oliver are improving.
After leaving Sunday's game early, G Ryan Bates (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. In addition to Bates, DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder), G Roger Saffold (vet rest), and LB Matt Milano (knee) also did not practice. McDermott confirmed that Milano is dealing with the same injury he was dealing with last week and he did not reinjure it against the Jets.