On a highly busy and noteworthy Monday, the Buffalo Bills cut one of their most popular players, trimmed their active roster down to 75 names, and named a starting quarterback. In two days and change, they will play the Detroit Lions in their preseason finale, and in four days and change, they must cut their roster down to 53 players. This article is a projection of that final 53-man roster for Week 1 that we'll see at some point on Saturday afternoon.
QB (3): Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel
How bold is Rex Ryan willing to be here? Choosing Taylor over Cassel is most definitely not the safe play, but it'd be an even bigger risk to cut Cassel outright - saving over $4 million against the cap in the process - and rolling with Manuel as the backup? Freeing up that cash would be nice, however, and Manuel has earned some trust after a fantastic finish to the preseason. I like Manuel's chances of being on the final roster more than Cassel's right now.
RB (4): LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Boobie Dixon, Bryce Brown
You have to at least acknowledge the fact that Doug Whaley has cojones the size of a candiru attack victim. He might have an ego to match, too. Parting ways with Fred Jackson makes fiscal sense, but it also reeks of Whaley backing Brown as the younger, cheaper option simply because he traded for him. Never mind that Brown is nowhere near as reliable as Jackson, even in the twilight of 22's career. Still, the jolt of that decision aside, there's no question that when healthy, the Bills are in really good shape at this position.
FB (1): Jerome Felton
Signed, sealed, and delivered.
WR (7): Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, Marquise Goodwin, Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan, Marcus Thigpen
This spot is a bit of a free-for-all at the moment with so many players injured. It's looking like everyone but Goodwin (ribs) could be available for Week 1, though that might change. Thigpen is worth keeping around, at least early, simply because of his dynamic punt return ability.
TE (3): Charles Clay, Matthew Mulligan, MarQueis Gray
Chris Gragg has been really impressive lately, and has probably played his way onto the roster. But with so many depth injuries to try to cover - particularly at receiver and linebacker - he might fall victim to a numbers game, because the team will probably value Gray's versatility more than Gragg's strong preseason to date.
OL (8): Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Seantrel Henderson, Kraig Urbik, Cyrus Kouandjio, Cyril Richardson
This projection has not changed since training camp began, and there's no reason to think that it'll change later this week - unless, of course, someone enticing lands on the waiver wire.
DL (4): Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Red Bryant, Stefan Charles
Marcell Dareus starts the season on the suspended list, with the Bryants, chiefly Corbin, filling in for him in Week 1 against Indianapolis. There's an intriguing battle going on between Charles and Alex Carrington for that fifth spot, but once Dareus returns to the fold in Week 2, that fifth spot may become obsolete, anyway.
ER (6): Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, IK Enemkpali, Randell Johnson, Quentin Groves
Buffalo really cleared this queue out in the first round of cut-downs, sending three competitors packing at this position. They have seven left on the roster, and given the versatility of the group, it's entirely conceivable that six of them will make the final roster - particularly considering the depth concerns at the next position on the list.
LB (4): Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown, Tony Steward, A.J. Tarpley
Steward's knee injury, which could cost him multiple weeks of action, might mean that the Bills keep Tarpley here as the emergency inside linebacker until Steward returns to health. Steward had a clear lead on Tarpley in the race to be the third linebacker before his injury against Pittsburgh. Now, the Bills might have to rely on one of their edge defenders here if necessary, with Johnson being the primary candidate.
CB (6): Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey, Ron Brooks, Mario Butler
I'll take Ryan at his word that the Bills aren't expecting to stash McKelvin on a reserve list to start the season, even though he was still wearing a cast on his ankle as of last week. It might make more sense to place him on Reserve/NFI until he's ready to play, simply so they don't have to cut another good player early in the season. Still, the Bills are not so desperate for depth that they have to take that route, and when push comes to shove, these will be the six corners that they roll with, anyway.
S (4): Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Duke Williams, Bacarri Rambo
Jonathan Meeks has a few days left to beat out Rambo or Duke Williams for a roster spot, but for now, those two seem fairly comfortably set as the backups to the starters.
ST (3): Dan Carpenter, Colton Schmidt, Garrison Sanborn
With all of the depth injuries that the Bills have going on right now, and with their apparent desire to keep McKelvin on the active roster despite his plight, it's pretty rich to think the Bills will keep Jordan Gay around for a handful of snaps per game as a kickoff specialist - especially early in the season. He's the type of guy that can easily return to a club later in the year, anyway.
Cuts (21): QB Matt Simms, RB Bronson Hill, RB Cierre Wood, FB John Conner, WR Deonte Thompson, WR Andre Davis, WR Dezmin Lewis, WR Tobais Palmer, TE Chris Gragg, TE Nick O'Leary, OT Darryl Johnson, OT Tyson Chandler, OG William Campbell, OG Alex Kupper, DL Alex Carrington, DL Andre Fluellen, ER B.J. Larsen, LB Jimmy Gaines, CB Merrill Noel, S Jonathan Meeks, K Jordan Gay
Reserve/Suspended (1): DL Marcell Dareus
We'll leave Dareus on the below depth chart, which outlines the full 53-man roster for opening day. Where do you disagree?
|FL||10||Robert Woods||18||Percy Harvin||15||Chris Hogan||11||Marcus Thigpen|
|TE||85||Charles Clay||49||Matthew Mulligan||48||MarQueis Gray|
|LG||64||Richie Incognito||68||Cyril Richardson|
|C||70||Eric Wood||60||Kraig Urbik|
|RT||66||Seantrel Henderson||71||Cyrus Kouandjio|
|SE||14||Sammy Watkins||88||Marquise Goodwin||81||Marcus Easley|
|QB||5||Tyrod Taylor||16||Matt Cassel||3||EJ Manuel|
|RB||25||LeSean McCoy||40||Karlos Williams||26||Boobie Dixon||35||Bryce Brown|
|ER||55||Jerry Hughes||91||Manny Lawson||58||Randell Johnson|
|NT||99||Marcell Dareus||79||Red Bryant||96||Stefan Charles|
|DT||95||Kyle Williams||97||Corbin Bryant|
|DE||94||Mario Williams||75||IK Enemkpali||49||Quentin Groves|
|MLB||52||Preston Brown||59||A.J. Tarpley|
|WLB||53||Nigel Bradham||50||Tony Steward|
|LCB||21||Leodis McKelvin||28||Ronald Darby|
|SS||23||Aaron Williams||27||Duke Williams|
|FS||20||Corey Graham||30||Bacarri Rambo|
|RCB||24||Stephon Gilmore||33||Ron Brooks||39||Mario Butler|