Second-year linebacker Tony Steward announced on Tuesday morning that he has been released by the Buffalo Bills, one day after reporting to Orchard Park for the start of the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program. The team has confirmed the transaction.
Wow, life's curveballs are unreal! Haha on to the next.— Tony Steward (@Tony_theTiger7) April 19, 2016
Extremely grateful to the Bills organization for the opportunity they gave me. Looking forward to the next chapter.— Tony Steward (@Tony_theTiger7) April 19, 2016
A sixth-round pick out of Clemson in the 2015 NFL Draft, Steward appeared in just seven games as a rookie before landing on IR with a back injury. That came just four snaps into his first (and apparently only) start as a member of the Bills, a December 6 win over Houston. Less than two months later, his fiancée passed away after a short battle with cancer. Now, as Steward himself tweeted, he's dealing with another curveball.
Steward's release leaves the Bills with just three inside linebackers on their active roster: Preston Brown, Zach Brown, and Kevin Reddick. Late in the 2015 regular season, Manny Lawson played inside linebacker in a pinch and acquitted himself well, but he's a better fit as a strong-side player in the Ryan defense.