The Buffalo Bills found out on Sunday that Anquan Boldin, one of their most recent signings this summer, will not play for the team in 2017 — to instead follow his passions outside of football. So with Boldin walking out the door, a spot on the 53-man roster has quickly opened up.
With the jarring news of Boldin’s departure, and with only two preseason games to go, now seems like the perfect time to dish out a brand new 53-man roster projection — post-Boldin edition:
Tyrod Taylor, Nathan Peterman, T.J. Yates
- This all came down to whether or not the Bills were to keep two or three quarterbacks. Rookie Nathan Peterman seems to have completely taken over the backup job already, and now it’s just a matter of if T.J. Yates is worth enough to them to keep on the 53-man roster to start the year. You can make a definitive case against him being kept, but the trouble is, the Bills are void of talent at some of the spots on their roster that would otherwise compete for that final job. Plus, with two suspended players in Walt Powell and Seantrel Henderson, that’s two extra roster spots to play with as well. Yates can help Peterman come along from the inside in how to be a professional quarterback, which is likely worth more to them than a cornerback that wouldn’t actually dress on game days anyway.
Running Back (5)
LeSean McCoy, Jonathan Williams, Patrick DiMarco, Mike Tolbert, Joe Banyard
- I think this number is pretty solidly at five, with the last spot going to the running back that excels the most on special teams. That’s why you see Joe Banyard, and not Taiwan Jones, making the final cut of the 53-man roster. As pointed out by ESPN’s Mike Rodak during the first preseason game, Banyard has worked himself into being a core special teams player — appearing on all four coverage and return units to start off the game. Jones, on the other hand, has tried at special teams, but it still seems Banyard is ahead of him. The rest of the players on the active roster seem to be locked in.
Cut: Taiwan Jones, Cedric O’Neal, Jordan Johnson
Wide Receiver (6)
Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, Rod Streater, Brandon Tate, Philly Brown
- Oh what a weird two weeks it’s been for the Buffalo Bills receiver room. Now, this projection is without any indication of a long-term injury for veteran Rod Streater. If he needs to be put on Injured Reserve, that clearly opens up another spot on the active roster for either another receiver, or some other position. However, with the work that Streater has done this summer, if he’s healthy enough he warrants a spot on the active roster. The biggest beneficiary of Anquan Boldin walking out the door is likely Philly Brown, who goes from a potential roster cut casualty to just sneaking on the 53-man roster. Brown has only been so-so this summer, so there is a clear opportunity for someone like Dez Lewis, Daikiel Shorts, or someone else to steal the spot.
Cut: Dez Lewis, Daikiel Shorts, Jeremy Butler, Rashad Ross, Brandon Reilly
Suspended: Walt Powell
Tight End (3)
Charles Clay, Nick O’Leary, Logan Thomas
- This one became abundantly clear when Jason Croom was designated as waived/injured. This means the Bills will likely only keep three tight ends, and those three tight ends are the obvious ones: Clay, O’Leary, and Thomas.
Cut: Wes Saxton, Rory Anderson
Offensive Tackle (3)
Cordy Glenn, Jordan Mills, Dion Dawkins
- I was close to keeping Michael Ola on the roster because they seemed to like what he did throughout training camp, and because he was being cross-trained at both tackle and at guard. For whatever reason, the Bills seem to continue to be interested by the idea of Vladimir Ducasse being on the team and possibly even starting, so the potential for the Bills to keep Ola becomes a little bit more limited with five interior linemen making the team. Also, Ola has been a little banged up recently, so he’ll need to play his way back into roster consideration with the team.
Cut: Michael Ola, Cameron Jefferson
Suspended: Seantrel Henderson
Interior Offensive Line (5)
Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Ryan Groy, Vladimir Ducasse
- The closest one to making it on from the cut line is Jordan Mudge, but he’s cooled off after a strong start to training camp. They still are in the process of cross-training Mudge, which leads me to believe they are quite interested in the idea of keeping him on the practice squad. As for the other three players that were cut, they weren’t nearly as close to making the roster as Mudge. If the Bills decide to cut Ducasse, I think it would come down to Mudge and Ola to make the team as the eighth offensive lineman.
Cut: Jordan Mudge, Karim Barton, Zach Voytek, Greg Pyke
Defensive End (4)
Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson, Eddie Yarbrough, Ryan Davis
- With the decision to keep both Andre Holmes and Vladimir Ducasse, there isn’t any benefit to cutting Ryan Davis and making the defensive ends even thinner than they were at the beginning of training camp. Eddie Yarbrough has been an outright revelation for the Bills this summer — and they sorely needed someone to step up. Davis rounds out the group, but it would not surprise me in the least bit if they did cut bait with all three key pieces to regain a potential third-round compensatory pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Cut: Max Valles, Jake Metz, Ian Seau
Defensive Tackle (4)
Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Jerel Worthy, Adolphus Washington
- This is an open and shut case. The four that make it were clearly the best at camp, and they’ll likely all see the field in 2017. As for the players that are on the cut list, I remain interested by what Marquaivius Lewis could potentially turn into. In Sean McDermott’s defensive scheme, he can be a versatile defensive lineman that can line up a little bit of everywhere along that line. Keep an eye out for him making the practice squad.
Cut: Marquavius Lewis, Nigel Williams, Deandre Coleman
Preston Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, Ramon Humber, Gerald Hodges, Matt Milano, Tanner Vallejo, Reggie Ragland
- Now that Gerald Hodges has seemingly taken over the backup middle linebacker job, the one question that remains is about former second-round pick Reggie Ragland. If they are unable to trade him, will they keep him, or will they cut him? At this point, you might as well keep him, hold on to him, and hope a team gets desperate through the first month and a half of the regular season for a linebacker. At the worst, they a keep him on for another season and see if there’s anything there in training camp — or try to trade him ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s still worth more to them on the roster than to completely cut him this summer — especially without players on the cut line that are compelling enough to keep over him.
Cut: Sam Barrington, Jacob Lindsey, Carl Bradford, Abner Logan
Tre’Davious White, Kevon Seymour, Shareece Wright, E.J. Gaines, Leonard Johnson
- As I mentioned earlier, one of the final spots boiled down to third-string quarterback T.J. Yates versus a cornerback that may never dress. To me, that player is Bradley Sylve, someone the team has been cross-training as both an outside cornerback and at nickel. Like Mudge and Lewis, I believe Sylve could potentially be a practice squad player if he isn’t kept on the 53-man roster.
Cut: Bradley Sylve, Greg Mabin, Jumal Rolle, Marcus Sayles
Micah Hyde, Jordan Power, Shamiel Gary, Trae Elston, Colt Anderson
- This position is a bit up in the air based on Colt Anderson’s injury status. He hasn’t been able to get back to the team in full, which has left the Bills in a bit of a bind as to what to do with him. In his stead, we’ve seen the emergence of two players as the main backup safeties behind Hyde and Poyer: Shamiel Gary and Trae Elston. Although this position could be one that the Bills look to supplement through the waiver wire after all the cuts come through the league offices.
Cut: Joe Powell, Bacarri Rambo, B.T. Sanders, Adrian McDonald
Special Teams (3)
Stephen Hauschka, Colton Schmidt, Reid Ferguson
- No cuts, no arguments here.