Throughout a very busy and exciting NFL off-season for the Buffalo Bills, we have justifiably spent the vast majority of our time talking about the high-profile additions made to the team's roster over the last few months. What we haven't done is talk at length about some of the bigger-name players that are no longer with the team.
Out of all of the players that the Bills lost this off-season, these three players were the most notable, and all three have landed with new teams. Bell, the oft-injured starting left tackle, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent; Parrish, the oft-injured and at times electrifying punt returner and under-utilized receiver, signed a free agent deal with the San Diego Chargers; and Florence, released by the Bills after the 2012 NFL Draft, has since signed with the Denver Broncos.
For a brief moment, it looked like Parrish, 30 in July, was finally going to make a name for himself as a receiver under Chan Gailey, as he started six of eight games to begin 2010 and set a career high with 400 receiving yards in that time frame. Unfortunately, an ankle injury ended his run after a half-season, and then he hurt his ankle again in Week 2 last year, landing on IR. There was never any indication that the Bills were interested in re-signing Parrish, who signed a meager one-year, $700,000 contract (less than what Derek Hagan re-signed in Buffalo for) with the San Diego Chargers. He's expected to compete for a roster spot and a punt returning role there. Buffalo replaced Parrish's speed in the lineup with street free agent David Clowney and third-round pick T.J. Graham.
Bell, who turned 28 in May, made 22 starts at left tackle in the two years that Buddy Nix and Gailey have been in town. He also missed nine games due to injury. Prior to the start of free agency, both Nix and Gailey expressed interest in re-signing Bell, with Nix saying that the team had made an offer to Bell's representation and not heard back. Bell visited with several teams on the open market, and when Jason Peters suffered an off-season Achilles injury, the Eagles pounced. Bell signed a five-year, $34 million contract with the Eagles that, in reality, is a one-year, $3.25 million contract with an $8.5 million club option for the final four years of the deal. Buffalo replaced Bell with second-round pick Cordy Glenn in the draft.
Less than a year before he was unceremoniously released by the Bills, Florence agreed to a three-year, $15 million free agent deal to return to the club that took him on as a Jacksonville cast-off in 2009. The 31-year-old cornerback took his share of lumps in coverage in 2011, but also made some of the biggest defensive plays in recent club memory, intercepting six passes, recovering three fumbles and scoring three touchdowns in a two-year time frame. Durability was also a big selling point with Florence, as he started all 32 games in the last two seasons. Once the team added first-round pick Stephon Gilmore and fourth-round pick Ron Brooks, and re-structured the contract of veteran Terrence McGee, however, Florence was deemed expendable, and released in early May. He signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal with the Broncos less than a week later, and is expected to be Denver's nickel back this season.
Have at it, Bills fans. Which of these three players is the biggest loss for the team?