ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Drayton Florence #29 of the Buffalo Bills encourages the fans during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brody Wheeler/Getty Images)
The Buffalo Bills have released veteran cornerback Drayton Florence, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter and confirmed by the team this morning. The move comes less than one week after the team replenished its youth at the position by adding Stephon Gilmore in the first round and Ron Brooks in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Florence's release comes as a mild surprise due to the timing of the move and the investment made just last year. The Bills signed Florence to a three-year, $15 million deal in July of 2011 and he was again expected to fight for a starting job. The 31-year-old was set to earn $4 million in 2012 and $5 million in 2013 before becoming a free agent.
The nine-year veteran out of Tuskegee played three seasons for the Bills, starting 45 games during his tenure. He made 168 tackles and intercepted 7 passes for Buffalo but struggled in coverage in 2011, allowing a 103.3 QB rating to the opposition. Florence also spent six seasons with the San Diego Chargers and one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He will be an unrestricted free agent.
The move leaves the Bills with eight cornerbacks on the roster, but a somewhat clear top six heading into the summer with veterans Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin, second-year pros Aaron Williams and Justin Rogers, and rookies Gilmore and Brooks. McKelvin, in particular, will benefit greatly from this move. Prince Miller and Cris Hill will also be fighting for a deep roster spot.
H/T to Boogie and BillyTheBuffalo