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How could the recent COVID-19 quarantines impact the final Buffalo Bills’ roster?

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills sent home four players on Tuesday thanks to a close contact with a COVID-positive trainer (who was fully vaccinated). With a mandatory five-day quarantine for those players from the last time they were in close contact with the trainer, the group could miss the final preseason game.

It’s unlikely that any of the four were playing for their jobs in the final preseason game, but there still could be an impact on the final roster from the incident.

Extra receiver?

Wide receivers Cole Beasley and Gabe Davis are unvaccinated. With Isaiah McKenzie’s injury in Tuesday’s practice, the Bills are thin at the position right now. Knowing that they are a close contact away from potentially losing their slot receiver while the other is injured could force the Bills to keep Marquez Stevenson, who has been on the outside looking in on most roster projections. Stevenson is also the backup returner, so he might make the team based on McKenzie’s injury alone. If Isaiah Hodgins was healthy, he may have been that “extra” receiver.

The fall of Butler

Vernon Butler should be a roster lock. He took a restructured deal this offseason to save the Bills $2 million and guarantee a large chunk of his contract. $1.5 million of his $3.5 million salary is guaranteed and they already paid him a $1 million roster bonus. A concussion in camp kept him off the field and now he’s been sent home for five days because he wasn’t vaccinated. Sometimes the best ability is availability, and Butler hasn’t been available. It could cost him his spot on the roster.

Defensive line numbers game

Speaking of Butler, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was also sent home as a close contact. If the team decides to keep Butler, having both of their 1-tech defensive tackles unvaccinated leaves them exposed to a possible situation where neither dress for a game. Keeping an “extra” 1-tech like Harrison Phillips would seem to be a must, which might impact a back-end defensive end like Bam Johnson.