A steal despite the lengthy injury history
Looking for competition in the slot for the 2022 season, the Buffalo Bills signed WR Jamison Crowder to a one-year deal worth upwards of $4 million on Tuesday. This is Crowder’s third team after four years in Washington followed by three years with the New York Jets.
Crowder brings name recognition to the Bills due to playing the Jets two times a year, seeing him a total of five times over the last three seasons. He brings a skill set to Buffalo that helped open up the Jets’ offense. When he was targeted often, his play kept New York competitive against the Bills. However, one of his biggest concerns has been availability. Over his six-year career, he has missed 17 games, many due to multiple muscle strains.
Detailed below is Jamison Crowder’s publicly reported injury history.
Missed zero games. Crowder did not appear on the injury report during the season, appearing in 16 games. However, he did suffer a hamstring injury during the preseason that forced him out of a game against the Detroit Lions that did not appear to affect him later in the season.
Missed zero games. Crowder managed to once again stay relatively healthy, only suffering a groin injury, side not specified, in a loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 7.
Missed one game. Heading into his third season, he began to feel the effects of the season and injuries began to mount. In practice prior to Week 1, Crowder suffered a hip flexor strain, side not specified, that gave him a questionable designation against the Philadelphia Eagles, ultimately playing.
Shortly after the hip injury, he suffered a hamstring injury against the Oakland Raiders that gave him a questionable designation prior to Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He was able to play through the injury, but the hamstring issues were not behind him by any means.
Following a QB Kirk Cousins interception against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8, Crowder attempted to chase down the defensive player, tweaking his hamstring in the process. He regrettably missed the Week 9 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks the following week,
Missed seven games. Crowder was hampered by a right ankle injury originally suffered in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints. According to the team website, he suffered ligament damage (sprain) along with a bone bruise, causing him to miss seven total games. He was seen on a knee scooter and in a walking boot shortly after the injury, but considering the bone bruise, this clarifies why he had such an extended absence.
He later suffered a wrist injury, side not specified, prior to the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. He played, not receiving a gameday designation, but logging only one reception for seven yards in the 24-0 loss to the Eagles.
2019 New York Jets
Missed zero games. Crowder suffered a left foot injury in the early days of training camp following 11-on-11 drills, limping off to be tended to by trainers. He later had an MRI that revealed he escaped significant injury.
Other than the foot injury, he managed to avoid the injury report during the season, hauling in a career-high 78 receptions during the season.
Missed four games. After avoiding any major injuries in 2019, Jamison Crowder suffered a hamstring injury in practice prior to Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills. Once again, the side of the injury was not specified, leaving the question of whether this was the same side injured or if he struggles with both legs intermittently.
The speedy receiver ended up missing Week 2 and 3 as he recovered, later questionable for Week 4 and 5, though suiting up. It’s worth noting that his snap count the following two games returning did not drop off and were some of his best games of the season.
Crowder’s injury woes were not over as he suffered a late-week calf injury, side not specified, in practice prior to Week 14 against the Seattle Seahawks. He was questionable for the game and the following week but ended up playing. He was highly unproductive against the Seahawks, logging two receptions for seven yards before bouncing back the following week with six receptions for 66 yards.
Missed five games. Before the season started, Crowder contracted COVID-19 and was unable to clear protocol prior to Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.
Even prior to the COVID diagnosis, he was dealing with a groin injury that was day to day. It’s not clear whether he needed extra time to improve his conditioning from COVID and rehab the groin or whether the groin was more severe than the day-to-day designation. He missed Weeks 2 and 3, returning to play in Week 4 against the Tennessee Titans, putting up a respectable seven receptions for 61 yards.
After going injury-free for a long stretch of the season, Crowder suffered a calf injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15. The side was not specified but it forced him out of Weeks 16 and 17 before returning for the season finale in Week 18 against the Buffalo Bills. Regrettably, he did not last long in the finale, exiting with yet another calf injury, ending his day with one reception for 16 yards.
Buffalo Bills Impact
Soft-tissue injuries. That’s what I see when performing this review. I understand he plays a position that requires quick, sudden movements along with sudden acceleration/deceleration, but it seems like every time he gets going, he’s slowed up by another ailment. Despite all the injuries, he’s only missed 17 games over his seven-year career. Nearly half of those were due to the right ankle injury in 2018.
What is impressive is that he still put up very respectable numbers despite the continuous injury issues that have plagued him, especially during his Jets stint. He was clearly one of the best offensive options for the Jets through some terrible seasons.
Over his career, he has been a regular on the field, seeing upwards of 80% of the snaps in games over a season he’s played with the Jets. He also regularly saw snap counts of more than 70% going back to his time in Washington. He has been heavily used throughout his career and played through multiple injuries.
Compared to the recently released WR Cole Beasley: Beasley saw a maximum of 73% of snaps in 2019 with the Bills. While Beasley played more snaps overall than Crowder over the past three years, he still played a lesser percentage of snaps per game, missing only three games over the same time span. While each player is unique in their health and usage within their offense, workload management for Crowder must be a necessity playing for the Bills this season.
With all the mouths to feed in the offense, Crowder’s role may be reduced in the slot, but he may also suffer fewer injuries as a result. I fully expect him to get veteran rest days every week, reducing the stress on his body to maximize recovery. It was concerning reading how often he suffered injuries in practice that affected his availability for games.
Reducing his workload by even 10% of snaps may be what it takes to keep him on the field more frequently and help him remain healthy. Imagine what he could do if he didn’t consistently play through nagging injuries!
Looking at the injury history alone, I’m not crazy about the signing. However, adding in what he has done productivity-wise despite the injuries along with poor QB play throughout his career is impressive. The cherry on top is the one-year contract, I’m all in on this signing.
Jamison Crowder can finally take care of his body and recover more effectively in Buffalo. Even if he does suffer an injury, which is very likely, they still have Isaiah McKenzie to keep teams on their toes.
If the team can manage his workload, this could be a steal for Buffalo. There is certainly an element of risk signing a guy with his injury history, but this could be phenomenal if he stays available. This is a perfect example of a market inefficiency that the front office exploits every year. These kinds of moves allow them to use resources elsewhere to sign other key depths amongst the roster.