When the rosters at 90 players, it is not hard to guess who will be cut and who will remain. Honestly, without much thought, we could all get the roster down to around 60 players without much thought. With that being said, the time will be coming soon for some players who called the Buffalo Bills home in 2014 to say goodbye. Here we will take a look at which 2014 Buffalo Bills who are currently on the 90 man rosters might not make it to week one. While getting the “pink slip” may not be as entertaining as in the movie Major League (like when Pedro Cerrano comes to his locker armed with a snake to ward off any evil spirits that may have released him from the team), it is an essential part of today’s game.
Running Back: Bryce Brown
The roster now reads LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon and Karlos Williams. McCoy is clearly safe from being released. Jackson has been said to have the backing of ownership, so it is more likely than not he stays with Buffalo for 2015. Dixon is sitting on roster bubble but carries special teams ability. The Bills invested a draft pick in Karlos Williams and in order to place him on the practice squad he would need to clear waivers, which we find to be too risky. Brown had missed the initial voluntary work siting a family issue for which he needed to attend. With the combination of head coach Rex Ryan’s comments that he wasn’t going to learn Brown’s name until he learns to hold on to the football (although the last two seasons he has only 2 fumbles) and Brown’s absence, it appears his days in Buffalo are numbered.
Offensive Line: Chris Williams
This will come as really no surprise to anyone. The Bills have signed UDFA Tyson Chandler at tackle to add with Cordy Glenn and Seantrel Henderson. At this time, Cyrus Kouandijo is still listed on the roster at the tackle position. None of those guys are going anywhere just from the numbers of the position. Williams was drafted as a tackle but shifted into guard when he went to play for the St. Louis Rams. He has never graded well via ProFootballFocus at either position. The Bills 90 man roster currently has 9 guards on the roster, Williams included. Kraig Urbik can provide depth, Incognito is slated to start, John Miller should make the team and Cyril Richardson will have a chance to prove his worth above Williams. The advantage that Williams has over the others is that he has played tackle in the NFL. He is currently not at voluntary OTA’s and coach Rex Ryan said that he has never spoken to him.
Wide Receiver: Marquise Goodwin
This position is a challenge. Had the Bills not signed Percy Harvin, it would be easier to make a case for Goodwin staying on the roster. The same could be said for Marcus Thigpen who has struggled hanging on to the ball his entire career prior to coming to Buffalo (in 181 career touches – including all receptions, rushes, punt and kick returns – he has 6 fumbles, meaning he fumbles the ball once every 30 touches. By comparison, if LeSean McCoy fumbled at the same rate, he would have had 11 fumbles last year). The slam-dunk pick to be released here would be Deonte Thompson, who spent part of last year with the Bills after being signed from the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. With Goodwin’s injury history, it is hard to see him make it through the pre-season healthy, let alone stay ahead of Chris Hogan for a roster spot.
Quarterback: Jeff Tuel and Matt Cassel
We could just say Jeff Tuel and know that we will be right, as he still has practice squad eligibility and would need to clear waivers for his final year of that eligibility. Let’s not play it that safe. Even though Cassel wasn't on the Bills roster in 2014, it is more interesting to discuss him than the prospect of Tuel beating out any of the other QBs. While Cassel is the most experienced of all QBs on the roster, his contract is the most expendable. Tyrod Taylor is the wild card. Rex Ryan has been interested in adding Taylor to his roster even when he was with the Jets. Taylor has played 4 years behind a QB who has never missed a game in his career, so his opportunities were limited. Even though he still has up to three years remaining on this contract, EJ Manuel will have a final chance to show that he is competent in the role; the Bills would have until March of next year to decide if they would exercise Manuel’s 5th year option (although an extension would be much more affordable given the product he has displayed on the field) which would be effective for the 2017 season. Taylor’s contract is written to be inexpensive if he holds the clipboard but allows him an early exit if he starts. Cassel would be the most reliable of all options, which is an easy argument to make for him keeping his place on the roster. With that being said, in seasons where Cassel has started 8 games or more, his completion percentage has leaked over 60% just twice in 5 seasons. In those seasons, his stats were 1181 for 2005 (58.9% completion percentage) for 80 TD and 55 INT. Broken down per game, of which he played 62 in that span, his per game stat line looks like 19-32, 213 yards, 1.2 TD and .88 INT. Project that across a full 16 game season and he goes 304-512, 3,408 yards, 19.2 TD and 14 INT. Correct me if I am wrong but those aren’t exactly staggering numbers. EJ Manuel, Tyrod Taylor or Jeff Tuel could be capable of matching or exceeding those stats and for $4.75 million (which is the 9th highest cap number on the team); he would have served his purpose by creating competition in training camp.