BBD Editor: Dan Hope
If you thought the Buffalo Bills would be done making roster moves when the 53-man roster deadline hit Saturday, you would have been mistaken. Sunday is arguably an even busier day for NFL roster moves, as teams claim players off waivers from other teams, sign players to their practice squads and often release more players to make room for their new additions.
The Bills may be done making cuts — by cutting their roster down to 50 players on Saturday, they left room to make a few additions without having to make any subsequent drops. They should, however, be expected to fill their open roster spots as well as all eight spots on their practice squad.
The Bills have begun the process of filling those open roster spots, announcing five practice squad additions and one roster addition Sunday afternoon. As the team continues to fill the remaining spots, we will update this post as they are officially announced.
CB Brandon Burton: After the Bills released Crezdon Butler on Friday, there was little doubt that the Bills would have to make at least one subsequent move to add a cornerback. The Bills have a serious lack of talent at cornerback behind Stephon Gilmore, who suffered a fractured wrist last week that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.
Burton did not do much in his first two NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, but he is a solid, physical cornerback who was a fifth-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft. With the Bills, he should have an immediate opportunity to compete for playing time with Justin Rogers and Ron Brooks as one of the team’s top four cornerbacks. The Bills need Burton to provide steady play in an unstable secondary.
Practice Squad Additions
OL Mark Asper: Asper might be the Bills’ most puzzling addition to the practice squad thus far. The Bills selected in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft, but he was cut prior to his rookie season. Drafted under the team’s previous coach/GM regime, Asper has no ties to the Bills’ current decision-makers or the offensive system.
The Bills needed offensive line depth, so adding at least one to the practice squad makes sense. Adding Asper over a player who had been with the team this preseason, such as Zach Chibane or Zebrie Sanders, is a more surprising decision.
OLB Jamie Blatnick: Blatnick was one of three players cut Saturday who was brought back to the practice squad Sunday. His release came somewhat surprisingly after he showed solid pass-rushing ability and positional versatility throughout the preseason.
It would seem Blatnick simply fell victim to the team having more than enough pass-rushing outside linebackers on their roster, and while Ryan Talbot and I both projected Blatnick to make the roster, the Bills went with Jamaal Westerman for the final spot instead. That said, if the Bills can keep him on their practice squad without him being signed away by another team, he should be first in line for a roster spot if the Bills have an injury at outside linebacker.
DE Izaan Cross: Cross is a big defensive lineman with some quickness, and the versatility to play both defensive end and defensive tackle. The Bills did not need Cross on their roster with six interior defensive linemen on their roster, but he is an intriguing developmental talent with some similar qualities to Alex Carrington.
QB Thad Lewis: With their top two quarterbacks being rookies, most expected the Bills would keep Thad Lewis—who they acquired just last Sunday in a trade with the Detroit Lions—to be their No. 3 quarterback. Instead, the Bills have apparently decided to roll with just EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel, bringing Lewis back to their practice squad after cutting him Saturday.
Manuel returned to Bills practice Sunday according to the team’s official Twitter account, so that news plus the decision to keep only two quarterbacks is a strong indication that Manuel will be ready to play next Sunday versus the New England Patriots. By adding Lewis to the practice squad, they can allow him to continue learning the Bills offense, and have a veteran option waiting in the wings if the team needs to another signal-caller to the roster.
WR Tommy Streeter: A big, fast receiver who has yet to show the polish to be an NFL playmaker? The Bills kept one on their roster in Marcus Easley. Many thought the Bills would keep another in Da’Rick Rogers, who was with the team this preseason as an undrafted rookie, but was released prior to the cutdown to the 75-man roster limit. The Bills also added one to their practice squad, but instead of bringing back Rogers, they signed former Baltimore Ravens wideout Tommy Streeter.
Streeter has terrific speed and is a big receiver with high upside, but he failed to catch on with the Ravens. He spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve, but even with the team’s serious lack of proven receiver talent this preseason, he failed to step up and was cut before the 75-man roster deadline. The Bills have a strong, six-deep receiving corps on their roster, but Streeter is an intriguing developmental guy if they can keep him on their practice squad throughout the season.