BBD Editor: Dan Hope
With the first practice of training camp just four days away, the Buffalo Bills had a busy afternoon of transactions Wednesday.
The Bills made one addition to their roster by signing veteran free agent Stevenson Sylvester. As an inside linebacker in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 3-4 defense for the past four years, he appeared in 50 games, in which he recorded 34 total tackles and two forced fumbles.
With star linebacker Kiko Alonso sidelined after tearing his ACL earlier this month, Sylvester gives the team another option for linebacker depth. He’ll be competing for one or two open backup spots at linebacker with second-year players Ty Powell and Nathan Williams, and rookies Randell Johnson, Jimmy Gaines and Darrin Kitchens.
To make room for Sylvester, the Bills released tight end Mike Caussin. Caussin had been with the Bills since 2010, but only saw regular-season playing time in 2011, when he caught five passes for 41 yards in six game appearances. He battled injuries in each of the past two seasons and spent both years on injury lists that kept him off the active roster.
Along with those moves, Alonso was one of five players designated to non-participation lists for the start of training camp. As Alonso’s injury occurred in Oregon after Buffalo’s spring workouts had already concluded, he was placed on the active/non-football injury list. As of now, he remains on the 90-man roster and is eligible to be activated at any time; however, Bills general manager Doug Whaley has said that Alonso “will most likely miss the 2014 season.”
Alonso’s placement on the NFI list, as opposed to injured reserve, is not insignificant. Should he be placed on the reserve/non-football injury list at the start of the season, he will miss at least the first six games of the year. He would be eligible for activation after that time, but if he stays on the NFI list all year, he will not be credited with an accrued season. As ESPN’s Mike Rodak pointed out earlier this month, Alonso would be a restricted free agent in 2017, at the end of his rookie contract, rather than an unrestricted free agent.
The Bills also placed Johnson and cornerback Leodis McKelvin on the active/physically unable to perform list, while they placed offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive lineman Alan Branch on the active/non-football illness list. The severities of those players’ health concerns remain unknown, but each of them is eligible to be activated at any time during training camp.