While Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie‘s name was thrown around as a rumored possible cap casualty this offseason, it was hard to imagine the hilariously self-dubbed “face of the franchise” getting cut, as he’s one the most beloved players in the locker room.
However, the Bills announced on Friday, March 17, that Mckeznie, who still had another year on his contract, was getting released. By cutting the former fifth-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bills saved over $2 million. According to CBS Sports‘ Shanna McCarriston, the 27-year-old’s release came “ahead of the $250,000 roster bonus” he was due later in the day.
McKenzie, who pulled out all the stops to propose to his longtime girlfriend earlier this month, didn’t appear rattled by the announcement. After the news broke, the Georgia alum sent out a heartfelt message to Bills Mafia following his release.
“I could write a book about how much i love this place, but I’ll just say THANK YOU ❤️,” McKenzie tweeted, a message that quickly racked up over 12,000 likes in less than an hour.
Bills Mafia strongly reacted to McKenzie’s tweet, praising his classy exit and sending him well wishes. A popular fan account tweeted, “All love my guy, best of luck wherever you land always rooting for you ✊🏼,” while one woman wrote, “Well I’m f****** sad.”
One person wrote, “I yelled at you a lot this season, but this response made me emotional. Love players who love Buffalo back ❤️💙.”
McKenzie Hyped the Bills Move to Sign WR Deonte Harty Just 3 Days Earlier
In the same way that McKenzie celebrated Cole Beasley’s return to the Bills last season, despite the move strongly indicating that he wasn’t getting it done in the slot, he was hyping up Buffalo’s move to sign former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Deonte Harris.
On March 14, Mckenzie sent a message to “Big Baller Beane” on Twitter, “THE WORLD IS WAITING BBB⌚️.” While it was unclear which move McKenzie was dying to see, the next day, McKenzie retweeted the report of the Bills picking up Harty in free agency.
Immediately after Harty was signed, suspicion swirled that McKenzie would be cut, as the Bills adding the 2019 Pro Bowler appeared to be a move to upgrade from the veteran receiver.
McKenzie Is Coming Off the Best Season of His Career
McKenzie, who started out his career with the Denver Broncos before landing in Buffalo in 2018, had high expectations going into the 2022 NFL offseason to step up from being a punt returner to being a reliable slot receiver. While McKenzie statistically had the best year of his NFL career, recording 42 catches for 423 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games, along with nine carries for 55 yards and a rushing touchdown, his lack of consistency was an issue.
With the Bills trading for Nyheim Hines last season, McKenzie’s role as a punt returner was also diminished. With only $9 million in cap space, as general manager Brandon Beane revealed while speaking to the media on Thursday, March 16, it seems the Bills couldn’t afford to keep McKenzie on the roster as the team’s biggest morale cheerleader.
“There could even be more cap casualties as guys are added,” Beane warned, noting how they weren’t “necessarily done” with making moves in free agency. When specifically asked about McKenzie, “Love Isaiah, he’s been great for us,” Beane said. “We’re talking internally about making sure we don’t have too much duplicate. But I think we’ll know here in the next couple of days.”