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Buffalo Bills roster moves show curious balance between offensive linemen, secondary, and receivers

The Bills have a weird roster balance right now.

Buffalo Bills v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson was added to the roster, having served a 10-game suspension for using a psychoactive drug (like marijuana) instead of an opioid (like morphine) to treat his Chron’s disease. Setting aside the issue of whether or not it was fair for the league to suspend Henderson, he’s back and the Bills needed to clear a roster spot for him. Cornerback Greg Mabin was released to make room for Henderson.

Wait. What?

Yes, the Bills really did release CB Greg Mabin. The casual fan may shrug and click on the next article. However, this was another strange roster move. It isn’t that Mabin is some stellar player who couldn’t be replaced by some other halfway decent backup quality cornerback; it’s a question of numbers. Right now the Bills have a total of eight defensive backs. Half of them play safety (Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Shamarko Thomas, and Trae Elston) and the other four are corners. Hyde and Poyer aren’t slouches in coverage but the defense has been successful mainly because those guys are allowed to play their natural position.

Of the four corners, E.J. Gaines, acquired in the trade for often-injured receiver Sammy Watkins, seemingly can’t suit up without getting hurt. (Irony!) So, really, the Bills have three reliable, consistently available corners in Tre’Davious White, Leonard Johnson, and Shareece Wright. When an opposing offense goes with four- or five-receiver formations, the Bills are forced to use a safety in place of a corner. Obviously, if one of the corners gets hurt the Bills’ secondary is put under even more pressure.

On the subject of curious roster usage, the Bills have two wide receivers (Andre Holmes and Zay Jones) and 2 special teamers (Brandon Tate and Kaelin Clay) to go along with the currently unavailable Jordan Matthews. While the Bills don’t want to put Matthews on injured reserve and thus need to hold a roster spot for him, the WR unit’s weakness hurt the team in Cincinnati. Buffalo has Brandon Reilly on the practice squad so it isn’t as though the team has to bring in an outsider.

Meanwhile, the Bills have five offensive tackles. Five. Only two can play at any given moment so most teams carry either three or four. Cordy Glenn and Seantrel Henderson have proven they can play, Dion Dawkins is a high draft pick, and for whatever reason the coaching staff keep insisting to themselves that Jordan Mills belongs in the starting lineup. What about Conor McDermott? Couldn’t he have been cut instead of a cornerback? How about shedding an interior lineman (four guards and C Eric Wood) and getting some wide receiver help?

It seems an odd way to build a roster. Unless the Bills are expecting to ship out oneof the tackles in the very near future.