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Desperate Bills turn to Percy Harvin to fill void at receiver


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- It has been over a year since Percy Harvin participated in an NFL practice or played in a game, but the Buffalo Bills are hoping he can be a quick fix to a receiving corps that has been decimated by injuries this season.

The Bills have been without Sammy Watkins (foot) for the past six weeks, and he isn't eligible to return from injured reserve until their Nov. 27 game against Jacksonville. No. 2 receiver Robert Woods has been dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of Buffalo's Week 7 loss in Miami and limited him significantly in last Sunday's blowout loss to New England. With depth options Greg Salas (injured reserve/groin), Marquise Goodwin (concussion) and Brandon Tate (concussion) also sidelined, the Bills needed help.

Enter Harvin, once a star talent who left a complicated legacy when he retired in April at 27.

The best-case scenario for the Bills is that Harvin is fresh after his time away from football, and he is able to use his knowledge of Greg Roman's playbook -- the same terminology that Anthony Lynn has used since taking over as offensive coordinator in Week 3 -- to contribute immediately. In that case, Harvin would be among the Bills' top receiving options -- along with Woods, Justin Hunter and potentially Goodwin -- when Buffalo makes a cross-country trip to play Seattle next Monday night.

The more likely scenario, however, is that Harvin need time to get back into football shape. After playing in the first five games last season, Harvin's body quickly broke down. A lingering knee injury and a hip injury that required an injection during training camp proved too much to overcome, and he was eventually placed on injured reserve. Both joints should be question marks as Harvin attempts to transition back into the rigors of an NFL schedule.

Given Harvin's injury history and time away from the game, it's easy to see this signing turning out to be a bust for Buffalo -- even though the Bills likely paid a small price to take a swing on him.

The signing indicates that the Bills won't be active at Tuesday's 4 p.m. trade deadline. Some fans have clamored for Chicago's Alshon Jeffery or San Francisco's Torrey Smith as potential targets, but neither seem realistic given the Bills' tightening cap situation this season and the long-term financial commitment either player would require. In an appearance on WGR 550 radio last week, Doug Whaley did not mention Jeffery by name but said acquiring a player with a $14 million cap hit would not be feasible; Jeffery's cap number for the entire 2016 season is $14.599 million.

Instead of giving up draft assets, the Bills don't have to relinquish any future selections to take a chance on Harvin.