With the addition of OLB Shawne Merriman via the waiver process, the Buffalo Bills have added their second player off waivers this year (Kraig Urbik). The Bills have had great success in the past with waiver-wire acquisitions. Here are the top five:
6. OL Joe DeLamielleure
DeLamielleure was selected by the Bills in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft. He opened holes for O.J. Simpson and pass blocked for Joe Ferguson before being traded to the Browns in 1980. In 1985, the Browns released DeLamielleure, and the Bills, then sitting near the top of the waiver order, claimed the future Hall of Famer. While he only started three games and played in ten for the team in his final season, Joe D got to finish his career in Buffalo, and that gets him on the list.
5. FB Roosevelt Leaks
Prior to 1989, players went through waivers regardless of what time of year they were released. It was a byproduct of not having a true free agency system. Following the 1979 season, the Colts released Leaks and the Bills claimed him. In his four years and 53 games with the Bills (including the 1982 strike-shortened season), Leaks ran for 14 touchdowns and 1,138 yards on 313 carries. He also caught 36 passes for 273 yards and another score. Leaks also was the lead blocker for Joe Cribbs during the early part of the decade.
4. WR James Lofton
Lofton spent most of his Hall of Fame career with the Packers, but in 1989 he was waived by his second team, the Raiders. Lofton’s best year with Buffalo came in 1991, when he posted the sixth 1,000-yard season of his career, tied a career high with eight touchdown receptions, and made his eighth Pro Bowl. All told, Lofton amassed 151 receptions, 2,736 yards, and 21 touchdowns in his 59 games with the Bills. He holds the team record for yards per reception (18.1, shared with Haven Moses) for any receiver who had more than 30 receptions.
3. P Paul Maguire
Maguire may be better known to younger Bills fans as a television commentator, but from 1964 to 1970 he punted in 98 games for Buffalo. Maguire was claimed off waivers from the Chargers following the 1963 season despite making the AFL All-Star team in 1962. Maguire held every punting record in team annals until Chris Mohr surpassed them 25 years later. He currently sits at third in punts and punting yards, and second in punts in a single season (100) and punting average, with a 42.1 career mark. A section of club seats at Ralph Wilson Stadium is named in his honor.
2. ST/WR Steve Tasker
Tasker was waived by the Oilers during the 1986 season. As a receiver, he lacked the size to be a formidable wideout. But Marv Levy saw something in the diminutive Northwestern graduate, and Bill Polian plucked him from the waiver wire. Tasker was in the lineup two days later as a special teams ace. Tasker played on every Bills special teams unit for the rest of his career, notching game-changing plays on punt coverages, blocks, and kickoffs. He was named to the Pro Bowl seven times and was the MVP of the 1993 contest. He ended his career with only 49 catches in a Bills uniform, but forced seven fumbles, recovered six and recorded a safety while playing special teams. He is a member of the Buffalo Bills 50th anniversary team.
1. QB Jack Kemp
Kemp was an All-AFL QB in 1960 and a member of the AFL All-Star team in 1961. After breaking his finger during the 1962 season, Chargers head coach Sid Gillman put Kemp on waivers with no intention of losing the quarterback. He simply needed the roster spot for another QB. Too bad for him: the Bills snatched Kemp at the request of head coach Lou Saban. Kemp became the starting QB for the Bills, fighting for that role with Daryle Lamonica, and led the Bills to the 1964 and 1965 AFL Championships over his old team. In all, Kemp made five more AFL All-Star teams in his six-plus seasons with the Bills, was a member of the All-AFL team and MVP of the league in 1965, and became the leading passer for attempts, completions, and passing yards in AFL history. He is a member of the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame, the AFL Hall of Fame, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, and was the only quarterback (and one of 20 overall) to play the entire ten years of the AFL's existence. Following his retirement, Kemp began a long and successful career in politics, highlighted by his unsuccessful run as Bob Dole's running mate in 1996.