It’s way too early for us to be doing a 53-man roster projection, but the Buffalo Bills are heading into the learning part of their offseason with a pretty sizable chunk of their roster set. Now it’s time to figure out how the pieces fit together.
Note: We’re listing the players in each group in alphabetical order and we are not listing any UDFAs as they are unofficial at this point.
Cut: Davis Webb
With a limited offseason beginning with a canceled rookie minicamp, there’s no way they’ll feel comfortable enough getting rid of Barkley in favor of Fromm. I doubt they’ll want to expose the rookie to waivers.
Running back (5)
Cut: Christian Wade
I expect Yeldon to be inactive on game days, but he’s a solid third option. Jones is the special teams contributor who can get you through a game if one of the top two guys is hurt. Moss and Singletary splitting carries is going to be fun to watch.
Tight end (4)
Cuts: Nate Becker, Jason Croom
This group is such a great mix of talent, youth, and skill set. While I’m sure some folks want to see them move on from Smith, he played 30% of the snaps last year and while that number diminished over the course of the season, it jumped up to 47% in their playoff-clinching win over Pittsburgh. If Brian Daboll wants to go pass-heavy on offense, moving on from Smith becomes a possibility but it’s a gamble with their offensive line largely the same as last year.
Wide receiver (6)
Cuts: Nick Easley, Robert Foster, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Andre Roberts, Duke Williams
McKenzie is my last man in ahead of Roberts mainly because of his unique contributions on offense, but it means McKenzie will also have to be the returner on special teams, a job taken from him for ball security concerns. It’s going to be tough cutting NFL-caliber talent at WR this August, especially a Pro Bowl caliber returner in Roberts, so if you want to slip the pair, be my guest. The only way Foster makes the squad is on special teams, but I don’t think Williams will have that ability.
Interior O-line (4)
Trade: Evan Boehm
Cut: Ike Boettger
The Bills probably wanted to upgrade here this offseason, but they are left with the same four as last year. I don’t see a place for Boettger on the team with Ryan Bates, Darryl Williams, and Cody Ford able to kick inside to guard.
Offensive tackle (5)
Cut: Victor Salako
The only new player on Buffalo’s offensive line from 2019 is Williams, who supplants Boettger. Nsekhe is your swing tackle while Williams backs up RG and RT. Bates is a versatile piece at all five positions. It’s a group with solid depth but still a lot of questions at the top.
Defensive line (9)
Cut: Darryl Johnson Jr., Mike Love, Vincent Taylor, Jonathan Woodard
We put them all together since there is so much position versatility here. several guys will play DT and DE as the Bills try to generate a pass rush from multiple positions and replace the line snaps from the retired Lorenzo Alexander. Epenesa won’t have the chance to play Murphy off the roster in the COVID-altered offseason and they play it safe. If I had to cut one more DL to keep a LB, I’d try to trade Murphy for a future late-round pick before cutting him outright.
Cuts: Tyrel Dodson, Del’Shawn Phillips, Corey Thompson
Joseph makes the team over Dodson and Thompson as a depth option and special teamer. The former fifth-rounder spent the year on injured reserve. Klein replaces Alexander as the nominal starter. Normally the Bills would like six players here but keeping the extra defensive linemen necessitated the cut.
Cuts: Dane Jackson, Cam Lewis
A solid group overall, there isn’t room to stash Jackson on the active roster so it’s hopefully to the practice squad with him and Lewis. If he has a good preseason and training camp (whatever that looks like), it’s very possible Jackson can beat out Gaines for the last spot here.
Cut: Jaquan Johnson
Corey Bojorquez (punter)
Reid Ferguson (long snapper)
Stephen Hauschka (kicker)
Cuts: Tyler Bass (kicker), Kaare Vedvik (punter/kicker)
Still a chance they could upgrade at punter, but the final three from last year stick. I just don’t see Buffalo going with the rookie unless Hauschka falls off under 50 yards. They are in a win-now window and want the veteran hand (or foot, rather).
There’s no way around cutting quality players—and some of them are going to end up being claimed by other teams—but Buffalo’s practice squad could be pretty good, too. Remember it’s expanded in 2020 with the new CBA, so 12 players plus the IPP exemption for Wade.
Practice squad priorities (13)
RB Christian Wade
WR Robert Foster
WR Duke Williams
WR Ray-Ray McCloud III
OT Trey Adams (UDFA)
DE Darryl Johnson
DE Mike Love
DT Vincent Taylor
LB Tyrel Dodson
CB Dane Jackson
CB Cam Lewis
S Jaquan Johnson
K Tyler Bass