The 4:00 p.m. deadline has passed, and that means the Buffalo Bills’ 53-man roster is set for their 2019 season. This team is as strong as it’s been in years, and that caused many talented players to be served a pink slip over the past 48 hours, but the cream that rose to the top has Bills fans optimistic for the upcoming season.
It should be stressed that drawing conclusions from the 53-man roster on cutdown day is as useful as drawing conclusions about a rookie draft class on May 1st. Waived players will be claimed by new teams and cause more shuffling, and teams have started cutting valid veterans to re-sign them after Week 1, in order to avoid guaranteeing their salaries. Just because we see a position group looking particularly deep or shallow today, doesn’t mean they’ll look the same next week.
As expected, the Bills are rolling with two quarterbacks here, cutting rookie Tyree Jackson. We’ll see if his summer satisfied the Bills enough to put him on their practice squad. Allen’s the unquestioned starter, and Barkley is a reliable backup.
Running back (4)
Big news here, with LeSean McCoy cut in a cost-saving move (and made expendable by an impressive start by the rookie Singletary. T.J. Yeldon won his battle with Senorise Perry, who was waived with an injury settlement.
Wide receiver (6)
Two of the three candidates for the final roster spot, Duke Williams and Ray Ray McCloud III, didn’t land on the team in the end. However, both players are potential options for the team’s practice squad.
Tight end (5)
Despite missing the entire preseason with a broken foot, Tyler Kroft’s injury has progressed to the point where the Bills felt comfortable adding him to the active roster from the start. If he’d started on PUP, he would’ve been ineligible to practice or play for six weeks, but now he can join the team sooner if his injury rehab finishes.
For Jason Croom, this is a Pyrrhic victory. He landed on the roster, but per Ian Rapoport, the team will put him on Injured Reserve tomorrow so that they can re-sign veteran safety Kurt Coleman.
Offensive line (10)
There were so many solid veterans signed in the spring, that it’s a great sign to see undrafted rookie Ryan Bates on the 53-man roster. The Penn State lineman, whom the Bills traded for a month ago, could conceivably train at all five positions on the offensive line. Conor McDermott and Ike Boettger, holdovers from last season, made the cut.
Defensive tackle (4)
No surprises here, where these four were basically set in stone from day one. Defensive tackle Kyle Peko had a good preseason showing, but wasn’t going to make the team over any of the players here.
Defensive end (4)
The shape of this position crystallized when promising second-year pro Mike Love dropped onto Injured Reserve with a pectoral injury. The rookie, Johnson, was one of the most exciting developments of the preseason, and he boxed out Eddie Yarbrough, whose excellent Week 4 preseason performance couldn’t earn him a roster spot this year.
Fifth-round draft pick Vosean Joseph didn’t make the squad, because the team is placing him on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury. Deon Lacey had some moments in the preseason, but for now the team hopes to sign him to the practice squad.
For second-year pro Corey Thompson, he has a major opportunity to establish himself as either a versatile backup or the heir apparent to Lorenzo Alexander, lest the team find a replacement next year.
It was a bit of an upset to see Captain Munnerlyn cut here, since many assumed his familiarity with Sean McDermott’s defense made him a shoe-in. The team might still re-sign him after their first game but, for now, they have three potential nickel cornerbacks on the roster.
Even more surprising than Munnerlyn’s departure was Kurt Coleman’s, since he was the team’s third safety for pretty much the whole summer. He’s another person who could be re-signed in a week. For now, Marlowe’s strong preseason earned him a roster spot, and rookie Jaquan Johnson (who earned live praise from Brandon Beane on Thursday) also made the cut.
Two of these players will be rock-solid for the Bills. As for Bojorquez, it was extremely telling that, following Cory Carter’s release, Sean McDermott still alluded to Bojorquez “competing” for his job. This position might change in a week.