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2019 Buffalo Bills practice squad primer

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Which players on Buffalo’s current roster are eligible for the practice squad?

Buffalo Bills v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

With the final preseason game of the 2019 exhibition season about to take place for the Buffalo Bills, the end of a dream will come for many players. With 89 players on the current roster and only 53 spots on the final squad, cuts are a fact of life. For some players, however, the ten-man practice squad offers a pathway to an NFL future.

Eligibility for the practice squad can be a bit hard to decipher in some borderline cases. While this piece from our friends at Behind the Steel Curtain is a great start, it doesn’t directly reference any of our Bills, for obvious reasons. Using the guidelines set forth, though, there are a few easy ways to determine who can be signed to the Bills’ practice squad after clearing waivers on September 3.

Players are eligible for the practice squad if they have two or fewer accrued seasons in the NFL. This eliminates 42 players on Buffalo’s roster right off the bat. Anyone who has already accrued three NFL seasons cannot be placed on a practice squad—the cut-off, then, is players like Shaq Lawson, who is entering his fourth NFL season.

Another rule for the practice squad is that players who have already spent three seasons on a practice squad are ineligible to return to it. A “season” on a practice squad is determined as follows: In a player’s first and second year on a practice squad, he has to spend six weeks on the practice squad for it to count as a whole season.

If he signs to a practice squad for a third time, then he only needs to spend one week on the practice squad for it to count as his third (and final) year of practice-squad eligibility. This eliminates three more players from practice-squad contention: cornerback Denzel Rice, defensive tackle Kyle Peko, and tight end Kyle Carter. Defensive end Mike Love, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, is ineligible to be on the practice squad due to his injury designation.

Thus, the Bills have 46 players who are eligible to be signed to the team’s practice squad. Nineteen of those players are rookies. Twenty of them are players entering their second year. Seven others are players in limbo—those who have yet to accrue a third season but still have practice-squad eligibility since they haven’t spent three years on a practice squad.

Another thing worth noting: Teams are allowed to carry a maximum of four players who have two or fewer accrued seasons on their practice squad. So if the Bills wanted to place defensive end Eddie Yarbrough, offensive tackle Conor McDermott, and wide receivers Victor Bolden Jr. and Isaiah McKenzie on the practice squad, they theoretically could do it. Of course, the players would have to agree to the deals rather than remaining free agents, but those players are an example of young players with game experience who can be carried on a practice squad.

Here is a full list of the players who still have practice-squad eligibility on Buffalo’s current roster. Clearly, some of them are roster locks who won’t be cut and, if they were, they certainly wouldn’t clear waivers. However, they do technically have eligibility for the practice squad.

Rookies

OL Ryan Bates

TE Nate Becker

LB Tyrel Dodson

WR Nick Easley

OL Cody Ford

QB Tyree Jackson

DE Darryl Johnson

S Jaquan Johnson

LB Vosean Joseph

TE Dawson Knox

CB Cam Lewis

K Chase McLaughlin

DT Ed Oliver

WR David Sills V

RB Devin Singletary

RB Christian Wade (Buffalo can choose to designate him as an eleventh man to the squad, preventing all teams—including the Bills—from calling him up to the 53-man roster thanks to his participation in the International Pathway Program, or they can make him a regular member of the practice squad)

S Abraham Wallace

One Accrued Season

DE Jeff Holland

WR Cam Phillips

WR Duke Williams

QB Josh Allen

OL Ike Boettger

P Corey Bojorquez

TE Jason Croom

LB Tremaine Edmunds

WR Robert Foster

CB Taron Johnson

CB Ryan Lewis

WR Ray-Ray McCloud III

DB Siran Neal

DT Harrison Phillips

G Wyatt Teller

LB Corey Thompson

TE Keith Towbridge

CB Levi Wallace

Two Accrued Seasons

WR Victor Bolden Jr.

T Dion Dawkins

LS Reid Ferguson

WR Zay Jones

OL Erik Magnuson

T Conor McDermott

WR Isaiah McKenzie

LB Matt Milano

CB Tre’Davious White

DE Eddie Yarbrough

The Oddities

LB Deon Lacey: While he is 29 years old, he has only two accrued NFL seasons—2017 and 2018 with Buffalo—and he has never spent any time on a practice squad.

S Dean Marlowe: His case is so interesting that I could actually be totally wrong on this. Here’s what I know. Marlowe only has two accrued seasons in the NFL. He’s spent two years on practice squads. If the Bills put him on their practice squad this year, it burns his final year of eligibility. But he spent the 2015 season on the Carolina Panthers’ active roster, and then he spent most of the 2016 season on injured reserve before being waived with an injury settlement in August 2017. Buffalo added him to their practice squad in December of that year, and he was again a member of their practice squad in 2018. He could be one of Buffalo’s “veteran” members of the practice squad if they so choose.


Obviously, players like Josh Allen, Cody Ford, Zay Jones, Devin Singletary, Tre White, Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds, and Ed Oliver won’t be on the practice squad, as they’ll instead be starting for the Bills on game days in 2019 and beyond. However, of that list, there are quite a few prime candidates for the practice squad.

Which players would you most like to see Buffalo put on their practice squad?