The NFL, it has been said, stands for “Not For Long,” and that seems to be a fitting description for many who were on the roster of the Buffalo Bills last season. According to Overthecap.com, the Bills actually had the third-most roster turnover in the NFL from last season to this one. Only the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals experienced more.
While the Bills ranked third in OTC writer Jason Fitzgerald’s list of overall player turnover, they lost the second-most snaps by overall percentage (36.5%) in the league. In terms of quality-snaps lost, the Bills lost 21.1%. Fitzgerald defines a “quality snap” as one taken by a player who is signed with an NFL team for the 2017 season.
The last part is a bit odd, since the Bills have a tremendous number of players who were on their roster last season who remain unsigned at this time. Of the 35 players who were Buffalo Bills in 2016 who are no longer with the team, only 13 have been signed by other clubs. That means that 22 players who were Buffalo Bills are not only former Buffalo Bills, they currently are not NFL players.
The high percentage of quality-snaps lost is certainly boosted by the fact that Zach Brown, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin (yes, the receivers were that bad and banged-up last season), and Stephon Gilmore are among the free agents lost by the Bills who will suit up elsewhere this season. Among those who remain unsigned, only Corey Graham played a significant number of snaps in 2016.
The greater issue that should arise from this is the bungling of the salary cap as it relates to the talent on the roster. Fitzgerald offers a strong critique of the roster construction in his blurb discussing Buffalo’s roster:
“Speaking of roster and cap mismanagement, you have the Bills whose decisions the last few years led to them patching a team together with a ton of one-year, low-cost veterans, many of whom are not in the NFL right now. It’s one thing to be aggressive when you are the Packers or Seahawks spending on talented players, but another thing to be the Bills and being aggressive on guys like Charles Clay to create bad financial situations.”
Part of the reason why the Bills had to bring in so many low-cost veterans on short-term contracts is because it was the only way they could add players given the constraints of their other long-term deals on the salary cap.
With a new regime in town, it will be interesting to see how the spending philosophy changes. It should also mean less turnover in the future.