Are Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie worth the risk for the Buffalo Bills?

AFC Championship - Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Championship - Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs

The Buffalo Bills just came off their best season in recent memory, compiling a 13-3 record. The Bills then faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs and were defeated 24-38 in the AFC Championship. Despite their loss, the Bills showed some promising signs and an integral part of their success was wide receiver Cole Beasley.

All eyes on the Buffalo Bills, but not for the right reasons

Heading into the 2021 NFL season, the Bills are facing problems at training camp owing to Cole Beasley's refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He has since been placed on the team's COVID/Reserve list, along with wideout Gabriel Davis, as a result of close contact with a trainer who tested positive.

Isaiah McKenzie may now be added to that list as well. McKenzie is facing similar issues due to his refusal to wear a mask in the indoor fieldhouse, training room and weight room. According to the league, this is a violation that attracts unvaccinated players a serious penalty.

The NFL has since fined the wide receiver $14,650, and Isaiah McKenzie was livid.

"They got me! NFL, you win!" McKenzie said sarcastically on Twitter.

Second Team All-Pro receiver Cole Beasley commented on the situation and backed up his teammate.

"Don't worry they got me, too," Beasley said. "But I was wearing a mask when I was in close contact with fully vaxxed trainer who tested positive, and still got sent home. So what's the point of the mask anyways? Meanwhile I'm here still testing negative and can't come back.
"Make it make sense. ... I wore a mask that whole day but got fined because I didn't have it [on] from entry door to the locker room, which is literally 5 steps."

What's at stake for everyone involved?

This conundrum just got a whole lot trickier for the Buffalo Bills. Having now suffered their first consequence, they're now subject to a punishment more severe than the initial one under the league's "conduct detrimental" clause. What this means is that players could lose a game check or be suspended for up to four games without pay.

Having Cole Beasley, who caught 82 passes for 967 yards and four touchdowns, miss any portion of the season would be disastrous for Buffalo. When it comes to McKenzie, that's another speedy slot receiver they could potentially lose for a portion of the season, especially in the second half of the season.

It gets worse. The league has made it abundantly clear that teams that suffer outbreaks due to players that aren't vaccinated could face circumstances where they have to forfeit games in 2021. Meaning, if their game can't be rescheduled, it would be considered an added loss to their record that counts against them in the playoff race.

Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie are both highly valued players on the Bills and part of Buffalo's success offensively a season ago was predicated on their play. That being said, any player who proves detrimental to the ingerity and success of the team will be on the outside looking in.

This is going to be an issue all year long. While taking the shot is an individual choice, the severity of the pandemic and the considerable losses every franchise has suffered since last season all dovetail into one solution: the vaccine.

Beasley and McKenzie's decision to steer clear of the vaccine puts the team's campaign at risk. All things considered, it's not worth it for the Bills to deal with this distraction in the 2021 season.

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