Tuesday was a busy day for the Buffalo Bills, with the team completing two deals at the NFL trade deadline and adding cornerback Tre’Davious White to the active roster after an 11-month rehab back from a torn ACL.
At the end of the day, the Bills had added White, former Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines, and former Atlanta Falcons (and Bills!) safety Dean Marlowe to their active roster. To make room for the new adds, the team parted ways with running back Zack Moss (shipped to Indy in the Hines trade), wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (released), and defensive tackle Brandin Bryant (released). If Hodgins and Bryant clear waivers, the odds of seeing the Bills bring them back on the practice squad are very high.
The flurry of activity necessitates an updated look at the Bills’ depth chart as they begin the second half of the regular season with Super Bowl aspirations. Before we check that depth chart out, however, let’s take a closer look at how the Hines and Marlowe additions will affect the running back and safety positions, specifically.
Bills RB depth chart: Maybe only slightly less Devin Singletary?
Through the Bills’ first seven games of the season, Devin Singletary has been the clear and unquestioned top back on Buffalo’s roster. Looking at snap-count data, the splits favor Singletary by a very wide margin:
- Devin Singletary: 332 snaps (70.5% of total)
- Zack Moss: 73 snaps (15.5% of total)
- James Cook: 69 snaps (14.7% of total)
Singletary is an important piece to the Bills’ offensive puzzle. He’s not going to disappear from the offense now that Hines is on the roster. Singletary is likely to remain the starter, and he has earned trust as a reliable check-down option and in pass protection. But playing 70% of the snaps is probably not sustainable for him, even with his relatively light workload of 14 touches per game.
The team clearly acquired Hines to add an explosive element to Buffalo’s backfield—one they hoped they’d get from Cook as a rookie, but perhaps don’t want to count on happening in the middle of a Super Bowl push. The team should still effort to get Cook more opportunities—he received 15 snaps with high-quality production in Sunday’s win over the Green Bay Packers—but Hines is the more dependable player right now, and offers a very similar skill set.
You can safely expect to see Singletary’s snap counts decrease—but maybe not as much as you’d think, even as the team looks to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Hines will be second in the pecking order and ramp up as his familiarity with the offense increases, with Cook bringing up the rear as he continues to earn more trust from his coaches.
Bills DB depth chart: Emphasis on the word “depth”
The Bills have been caught in scramble mode in the defensive backfield a couple of times this season. White’s return at cornerback leaves the Bills in a decent situation depth-wise, even if he’s not ready to play his usual set of reps yet; the team has gotten quality play from cornerbacks Dane Jackson, Kaiir Elam, and Christian Benford on the perimeter in his absence, and the team can feel relatively comfortable rotating all four players until White is fully up to speed.
Safety was a different story. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer were every-snap mainstays for five-plus years, until the injury bug bit both this season. Hyde is on Injured Reserve, replaced by Damar Hamlin in the starting lineup. Poyer has been in and out of the lineup, and the team is currently evaluating an elbow injury that may or may not be serious. Jaquan Johnson initially replaced Hyde, but the team quickly switched to Hamlin after some struggles. And beyond Johnson, the Bills were looking at depth corner Cam Lewis as their next man up at safety.
Marlowe spent three seasons with the Bills from 2018-2020, playing a bit in 2019 (10.4% of defensive snaps) and a bit more in 2020 (21.5%). If Poyer is healthy, he’ll continue to team up with Hamlin as the starting pair. Adding Marlowe to the mix gives the Bills two viable options—both of them traditional safeties—should the injury bug rear its head again.
As promised, here’s an updated look at the Bills’ depth chart as prep for Week 9 begins.
Bills depth chart, post-trade deadline
|WR||Gabe Davis||Jake Kumerow|
|LG||Rodger Saffold||Bobby Hart|
|C||Mitch Morse||Greg Van Roten|
|RG||Ryan Bates||Justin Murray|
|RT||Spencer Brown||David Quessenberry|
|TE||Dawson Knox||Quintin Morris||Tommy Sweeney|
|WR||Stefon Diggs||Isaiah McKenzie||Khalil Shakir|
|QB||Josh Allen||Case Keenum|
|RB||Devin Singletary||Nyheim Hines||James Cook||Taiwan Jones|
|DE||Greg Rousseau||Boogie Basham|
|DT||Ed Oliver||Jordan Phillips|
|DT||Daquan Jones||Tim Settle|
|DE||Von Miller||A.J. Epenesa||Shaq Lawson|
|LB||Matt Milano||Terrel Bernard||Baylon Spector|
|LB||Tremaine Edmunds||Tyrel Dodson||Tyler Matakevich|
|CB||Dane Jackson||Kaiir Elam|
|CB||Taron Johnson||Siran Neal||Cam Lewis|
|S||Damar Hamlin||Jaquan Johnson|
|S||Jordan Poyer||Dean Marlowe|
|CB||Tre’Davious White||Christian Benford|