The Buffalo Bills will need to cut down their roster today by 4:00 PM EST. The Bills’ staff and front office will have some very difficult decisions to make with this roster and here is what we believe the 53-man roster will look like.
Breaking Down The Bills’ Offense
The Bills are going to have some tough choices to make when it comes to breaking down this roster. Many of the players who Buffalo will cut are roster-worthy players. When you have one of, if not the best constructed roster in the league, there are worse problems to have. The job that Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott have done to completely break down this roster and build it from the ground up in their tenure is an incredible feat in itself. Now let’s get into it!
Quarterbacks: Josh Allen, Case Keenum (2)
There’s no question here that Josh Allen will once again lead the charge this year for the Bills. We all know what to expect from Josh. He’s projected as the MVP for this season along with the Bills being favorites for what would be their first Super Bowl Championship. Case Keenum and Matt Barkley have battled this off-season for who is going to be QB2 for the team. For “as well” as Barkley has played this pre-season, we know how limited he is in the offense and how stagnant he makes it.
We’ve had multiple moments when he has stepped in for a play or two and never shown that he can hold down the job. Keenum has a report with the Bills’ number one weapon in Stefon Diggs from their time with the Vikings and has shown he has what it takes to be a bottom to mid-level starter across his starts in the NFL which is exactly what you look for in a backup quarterback.
Running Backs: Devin Singletary, Zach Moss, James Cook, Taiwan Jones (4)
There are zero surprises here as to who is going to make the Bills’ roster. In the second half of the year last season, Singletary seemed to have locked down the lone running back role in the offense and helped the Bills become more explosive. Zach Moss has been a disappointment so far in his career, to say the least, but with the reports out of camp of his improvement and watching him on the field in the pre-season, he seems to have locked down the power back position on the team.
James Cook making the team is another obvious one simply due to his ability to line up in the slot along with his pass-catching out of the backfield let alone being a second-round draft pick this season. Taiwan Jones will make the roster solely on his special teams and gunner ability, he’s deemed a running back because he has to have a position designation. This leaves the Bills to cut Duke Johnson and Raheem Blackshear and hopefully bring them both back on the practice squad.
Full Back: Reggie Gilliam (1)
Reggie signed a two-year extension with the Bills this off-season, yet again solidifying his role on this team. He is a four-way special teams player, while also having the ability to line up in the backfield as a blocker or tight end and can run routes out of the backfield.
Wide Receiver: Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Jamison Crowder, Isaiah Mckenzie, Khalil Shakir, Isaiah Hodgins, Jake Kumerow (7)
In years past, McBeane has usually kept six wide receivers, the 2021-22 season was the first time in their tenure they kept more (seven.) I believe this year there is truly too much talent to let hit the waiver wire and potentially lose. The locks of Diggs, Davis, Mckenzie, and Shakir are obvious because they have roles carved out in the offense. But there have been many questions about the remaining spots and who would fill them.
Beane has made it very clear how much he appreciates the versatility to play on the offense and special teams if you’re a little further down the Bills’ roster. Kumerow has shown that ability in the past few years while also being able to step in and play outside receiver. The Bills signed Crowder to a free agent deal this offseason to presumably be the starting slot receiver but with McKenzie’s emergence in training camp, Crowder found himself fighting for a spot but ultimately earns the WR4 spot.
Isaiah Hodgins spent the last two seasons injured and on the practice squad but after watching him in the pre-season it seems that he is ready for the big stage and is making Beane change his philosophy by keeping seven receivers this year.
Tight End: Dawson Knox, OJ Howard, Quentin Morris(3)
The obvious lock here is Dawson Knox. In his third-year last season, he absolutely exploded by tying for the most touchdowns in the NFL among tight ends with nine receiving touchdowns. OJ Howard is an athletic freak who has dealt with injuries while with the Bucs but now gets to come to Buffalo to prove he can be a difference maker as a TE2. Tommy Sweeney has been the consistent TE2 for the Bills the past few seasons (excluding the covid season when he was out of football with a heart issue) but is extremely limited physically and was a healthy scratch for much of the second half of the year last season.
Quentin Morris has the most upside between him and Sweeney in terms of pass-catching and special teams ability which is what I believe earns him a spot on the roster.
Offensive Lineman: Mitch Morse, Ryan Bates, Roger Saffold, Dion Dawkins, Greg Mancz, Greg Van Rotten, Dave Quessenberry, Tommy Doyle, Spencer Brown (9)
With a newly revamped offensive line, the happiest person about this must be Josh Allen. Solidifying the offensive line by bringing in Roger Saffold to hold down the left guard position and moving Ryan Bates to right guard while sandwiching Mitch Morse between the two is more than likely the best interior offensive lineman Josh has ever had. With Spencer Brown being out much of the off-season with his back surgery, Quessenberry has stepped up and seemed to have taken the right tackle position from him. Also, “you already shnow” Dawkins has the left side locked down.
With the versatility of Van Rotten and Mancz, they can play both guard spots while Mancz can also be the backup for Mitch Morse at center. Tommy Doyle projects to be the swing lineman who can fill both guard and tackle spots should anyone ever go down. The only true battle left on the line is whether Spencer Brown can win his right tackle position back from Quessenberry.
Breaking Down The Defense
Another year and with that comes another season for Leslie Frazier and Sean McDermott to roll out a top-end defense. With the Bills’ big splash acquisition of Von Miller, it seems we may be in for more of the same. Let’s break down who makes the roster.
Defensive Tackle: Ed Oliver, Daquan Jones, Jordan Phillips, Tim Settle (4)
With all the new talent on the line, Ed Oliver is poised to have a breakout season. Jones, will start beside him with Jordan Phillips coming in to spell Oliver on odd downs. Tim Settle could be the secret weapon on this line. Being stuck behind many first-round picks on the defensive line in Washington the past few seasons, he’s yet to have the opportunity to show what he can really do. This leaves the likes of Eli Ankuo, Prince Emili, and Kingsley Jonathon to be cut and hopefully resigned to the practice squad.
Defensive End: Von “Biller”, Greg Rousseau, AJ Epenesa, Shaq Lawson, Carlos “Boogie” Basham (5)
Let’s get the easy two out of the way. Von and Rousseau will be the starting ends this year interchanging who plays which side. Not only was the signing of Von huge for his play for the Bills but, his knowledge and prowess are what I personally think is the biggest thing he brings to the defensive end room. The ability to teach these younger players is going to be very important to their progression.
Shaq and Boogie will round out the group as the fourth and fifth ends in the rotation and due to the game script, one of them most likely will not be active on game day, judging based on what McDermott believes the team needs that week. Shaq is a very good run stuffing end while Boogie has the impressive speed to get around ends and rush the quarterback. With these players listed, Mike Love seems to be the odd man out in this group being cut and resigned to the Bills’ practice squad.
Line Backers: Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, Terrel Bernard, Tyrell Dodson, Tyler Matakevich, Baylon Spector (6)
With Milano and Edmunds being the starters and Bernard being a third-round pick in this past draft, that solidified three spots in this room. Dodson has shown much improvement this pre-season and in the second game when the starters played, it was Dodson on the field with Milano and Edmunds in three linebacker sets and not the rookie Bernard. I believe he will be Edmunds’ primary backup again this season.
Matakevich is someone Bills Mafia has clamored for the team to cut for cap reasons, but Beane cherishes special teams and as the special teams captain, he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Baylon Spector was a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and has shown that he may have been overlooked in the draft process. He has flown around the field making tackles in the run and pass game.
Safeties: Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Demar Hamlin, Jaquan Johnson (4)
I won’t spend any time talking about the All-Pro safeties we have. Understanding Poyer is looking for a contract is something to keep an eye on but won’t affect the roster decisions being made. Jaquan Johnson has really stood out in the pre-season in the absence of Poyer. In the little time starters played, he was in place of Poyer, and the team didn’t miss a beat. Demar Hamlin makes the team again after being a seventh-round pick in the 2021 draft and playing in 15 out of 17 games as a rookie, mainly on special teams. Again, another instance of McBeane wanting versatility. This leaves Nick McCloud to be the odd man out and to be cut.
Corner Backs: Tre’ White, Kaiir Elam, Dane Jackson, Christian Benford, Taron Johnson (5)
The question about the corners isn’t about who is going to make the 53-man roster but is going to start. The obvious are Tre’ White (when he is healthy) and Taron Johnson, their positions are under lock and key. But until Tre’ is officially cleared there are some questions about who will be the outside corners to start the season.
Dane Jackson proved last year he belongs on an active roster but also showed that his ceiling isn’t as high as many hoped. Kaiir being the team’s first-round draft pick this off-season is usually a telling sign that he starts. In the past, almost every first-round pick under McBeane has started since day one. Everyone except Josh Allen started the first game of their rookie year. But with the emergence of Christian Benford, McDermott has his hands full to decide which two will start outside with Taron being the lockdown slot. This leaves Cam Lewis yet again to be sent to the practice squad.
Special Teams: Tyler Bass, Reid Ferguson, Punter TBD (3)
Going into year three, Tyler Bass is looking to take another step forward and solidify himself as one of the game’s top kickers. He has a boot that can kick a football over mountains and his accuracy has improved immensely being a perfect 100% on his extra points this year. Fans may think it’s silly to have a player who literally only snaps the ball on special teams and that’s it, but the biggest key to this process and success is consistency and Reid has snapped for Bass since he was drafted two years ago.
The punter situation is the only real question going into Tuesday. After everything that happened this past week regarding this position, the Bills are going to be bringing in some players to try out and compete for the job. Some of the players to keep an eye on this upcoming week are Brett Kern, Sterling Hofrichter, Michael Palardy, Dustin Colquitt, and Jordan Berry. My assumption is either Palardy or Kern could be the leaders going into the clubhouse. Palardy has ties to McBeane after punting in Carolina and Kern is a previous All-Pro.
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