By Paul Wanecski
The Buffalo Bills have and will continue to make adjustments to the 53-man roster as the season progresses, much like every other team in the NFL. While some players appear to have secured a spot, some have a very small window with which to fight to keep that. With impending moves on the horizon, let’s walk through what will be happening in the coming weeks along with the news that just broke today.
The most obvious move to discuss first is the addition of quarterback Matt Cassel. While his price as a back-up was just too high, counting $4.75 million against the salary cap, the Bills went the long-way-around to re-sign him. By releasing him, he was allowed to shop his value and see what other teams came calling. He certainly wasn’t dreadful in the pre-season but realistically the Bills offer him the best chance to get on the field in 2015. Releasing him allowed the team to clear the salary cap space (which they really had very little dead money attached to his contract since the Minnesota Vikings had to absorb the signing bonus money they had given him on his deal against their salary cap in the trade to the Bills) and also allowed him to find an opportunity elsewhere. The release of tight end Nick O’Leary is no surprise; he has practice squad eligibility and was arguably the weakest of the five tight ends on the 53-man roster.
This brings us to an interesting cross-road concerning future roster moves. It may appear that running backs Marcus Thigpen and Bryce Brown along with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin have all been saved from the chopping block. That isn’t totally true. With the release of O’Leary, this leaves the Bills with 16 total wide receivers, running backs and tight ends with only 9 total cornerbacks and safeties on the roster. Marcell Dareus is set to return in week two of the season, which means the Bills will have to release a player to make room to add him. Figure this will be either: Goodwin, Thigpen, or Brown. Come week seven, Leodis McKelvin should be ready to return which will cause the Bills to release another player so McKelvin can be added to the roster. Again, one of the remaining three will be the victim. These players are most likely to be released at these times but of course injuries on the roster causing players of other positions to be signed to the game-day roster is always a constant variable.
While it was a surprise to see Bryce Brown, Marquise Goodwin, Marcus Thigpen and Nick O’Leary all make the 53-man roster together, the time they will spend on it will probably be short.