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Way-too-early 2022 Buffalo Bills 53-man roster projection

The Bills’ roster cuts aren’t going to be easy

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

Following the 2022 NFL Draft and Free Agency, the Buffalo Bills are up to 88 players (so far) heading into their offseason program. With at least 35 roster cuts on the way between now and the start of the 2022 NFL season, here’s my first crack at the final 53-man roster.

Let’s go position by position to see where the Bills’ draft picks slot in. At the back end of the article is our best guess at what the depth chart looks like right now.

Note: Players listed alphabetically. Free-agent signings marked by asterisk(*). Draft picks marked with a plus sign(+) while undrafted free agents are double-plus (++)

Quarterback (2)

Josh Allen
Case Keenum*

Cut: Matt Barkley*

The Bills have traditionally kept two on the active roster with one or two on the practice squad. Buffalo is probably still looking to add a fourth arm for training camp.

Running Back (5)

James Cook+
Taiwan Jones
Zack Moss
Devin Singletary
FB: Reggie Gilliam

Cut: Duke Johnson*, Raheem Blackshear++

Singletary and Cook are your game day actives, while Taiwan Jones plays special teams and Reggie Gilliam is a special teamer and fullback/H-back. It doesn’t leave any room for Moss for the game roster, but he’s a solid choice as your third option. Cook essentially replaces Johnson on the roster following his selection. Blackshear is a candidate for the practice squad. Could Gilliam be a roster cut in favor of a tight end? I’m not there yet with his special teams snap count (73% in 2021).

Wide receiver (6)

Jamison Crowder*
Gabriel Davis
Stefon Diggs
Jake Kumerow
Isaiah McKenzie
Khalil Shakir+

Cuts: Isaiah Hodgins, Neil Pau’u++, Malik Williams++, Marquez Stevenson

The Bills kept seven wide receivers on their roster through 2022, but started the season with six after placing Stevenson on IR. They kept ample reserves on the practice squad, too, so maybe that comes into play here. They have cross-train abilities from Jamison Crowder and perhaps Khalil Shakir. All of the cuts could find their way to the practice squad. Stevenson was my last guy off the roster to make room for the next position group. Kumerow is on because of special teams.

Tight end (3)

O.J. Howard*
Dawson Knox
Jalen Wydermyer++

Cut: Quintin Morris, Tommy Sweeney

Buffalo only kept two tight ends on their 53-man roster a year ago but I suspect they will feature more two-TE sets, which would necessitate keeping one more tight end on the final roster. This is my surprise move on the early projection, as I am going with undrafted rookie Jalen Wydermyer over the incumbent Tommy Sweeney. Sweeney is entering the last year of his deal and has probably reached his ceiling.

Offensive tackle (4)

Spencer Brown
Dion Dawkins
Tommy Doyle
David Quessenberry*

Cuts: Bobby Hart, Luke Tenuta+, Will Ulmer++, Alec Anderson++

Last year, the Bills cut a late-round offensive lineman before adding him to the practice squad and Jack Anderson was eventually signed away. Tenuta would have to outplay Davis Quessenberry, who provides depth at multiple spots, or Tommy Doyle, who finished 2021 as their top reserve.

Interior OL (5)

Ryan Bates
Cody Ford
Rodger Saffold*
Greg Mancz*
Mitch Morse

Cuts: Jacob Capra, Derek Kersetter++, Tanner Owen++
PUP: Ike Boettger

I feel bad for Boettger, but I just have a hard time believing he’s going to be 100% by August following his Achilles surgery. Mancz can play backup center and has taken snaps everywhere along the offensive line, so Cody Ford is my last guy on the roster. The Bills don’t roll with fewer than 9 OL. Tanner Owen is my practice squad guy and Boettger is a phone call away when he’s 100% (and so is Ford, probably). Boettger could also be placed on PUP to start training camp and start the season there, which would give them some time.

Defensive tackle (4)

DaQuan Jones*
Ed Oliver
Jordan Phillips*
Tim Settle*

Cuts: Eli Ankou, Brandin Bryant, Prince Emili++, C.J. Brewer++

The Bills kept five defensive tackles last year along with lots of guys who could float between DE and DT. I went with one less this year but Ankou and Bryant spent so much time on the practice squad, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were back. I needed one extra spot for my third tight end, and 11 defensive linemen like last year was too much. Plus, Justin Zimmer won’t be healthy for a bit and can be added later if they want him.

Defensive end (5)

Boogie Basham
A.J. Epenesa
Shaq Lawson*
Von Miller*
Greg Rousseau

Cuts: Mike Love, Kingsley Jonathan++

I don’t see the Bills cutting bait on A.J. Epenesa just yet. Basham can play some DT. I like this group with the addition of Miller. I don’t think Lawson is a great candidate for the game day roster, with Epenesa playing a lot of special teams in 2021. Lawson has certainly dabbled more there than Boogie Basham.

Linebacker (6)

Terrel Bernard+
Tyrel Dodson
Tremaine Edmunds
Tyler Matakevich
Matt Milano
Andre Smith

Cuts: Joe Giles-Harris, Marquel Lee*, Baylon Spector+

Buffalo kept six a year ago, so hard cuts are coming at this position group. Perhaps this is the year Matakevich is gone, even though he led the team in special teams snaps by a wide margin in 2021. Spector is definitely a PS candidate if he can’t play his way onto the roster. I like what Dodson brings to the defense and he played 64% of the special teams snaps, so he’s my fourth LB behind Milano, Edmunds, and Bernard. Andre Smith is only there for special teams, but he’s way cheaper than Matakevich if they use that as a deciding factor. Ultimately, they are able to keep all of them except Spector.

Cornerback (6)

Christian Benford+
Kaiir Elam+
Dane Jackson
Taron Johnson
Siran Neal
Tre’Davious White

Cuts: Olaijah Griffin, Tim Harris, Nick McCloud, Jamarcus Ingram++, Tavon Fuller++

Buffalo consistently carries fewer DBs than I want them to, but just like in the NFL Draft, I think this is the year they carry an extra one. Maybe they want to place Tre White on the PUP list to start the season to make sure he’s 100% for the home stretch. That would keep him out of games against the Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Kansas City Chiefs plus then they have a Week 7 bye so he’d be pretty fully healed by the end of October. If that’s the case, they would free up that roster spot. Until I hear he’s not on track, I’m going to leave a roster spot for him. They kept five last year, so I’m going six this year. Cam Lewis is a priority practice squad player and backup in the slot.

Safety (4)

Damar Hamlin
Micah Hyde
Jaquan Johnson
Jordan Poyer

Cuts: Josh Thomas

Literally the same list as last year.

Specialists (3)

P Matt Araiza+
K Tyler Bass
LS Reid Ferguson
KR/PR Isaiah McKenzie
KR/PR Khalil Shakir+

Cuts: P Matt Haack, KR/PR Marquez Stevenson

They didn’t draft Punt God to get cut. If he can hold even remotely well enough, he is the new punter. Shakir has some experience as a returner, but it remains to be seen if the Bills use him in that capacity. It’s a bit of a camp battle here at returner. Last year, the Bills cut Reid Ferguson to get to 53 players and then re-signed him a few days later so they could place Stevenson onto the short-term IR list. This year, I have them cutting Stevenson. If he’s not the returner, I don’t see a role for him but McKenzie is locked in at WR.

You can see our projected depth chart below.

Bills 53-man roster final projection

Position Starter Backup Reserve
Position Starter Backup Reserve
QB Josh Allen Case Keenum
RB Devin Singletary James Cook Zack Moss
FB Reggie Gilliam
WR1 Stefon Diggs Jake Kumerow
WR2 Gabriel Davis Jamison Crowder Isaiah Hodgins
SWR Isaiah McKenzie Khalil Shakir Marquez Stevenson
TE Dawson Knox Tommy Sweeney Quintin Morris
LT Dion Dawkins Tommy Doyle
LG Rodger Saffold Ike Boettger
C Mitch Morse Greg Van Roten
RG Ryan Bates Bobby Hart
RT Spencer Brown David Quessenberry
LE Greg Rousseau Boogie Basham Shaq Lawson
1T DaQuan Jones Tim Settle
3T Ed Oliver Jordan Phillips
RE Von Miller A.J. Epenesa
MLB Tremaine Edmunds Tyrel Dodson Tyler Matakevich/Baylon Spector
WLB Matt Milano Terrel Bernard Andre Smith
CB Tre'Davious White Kaiir Elam
FS Jordan Poyer Damar Hamlin
SS Micah Hyde Jaquan Johnson
NB Taron Johnson Siran Neal
CB Dane Jackson Christian Benford
K Tyler Bass
P Michael Palardy
LS Reid Ferguson
KR/PR Khalil Shakir