BBD Editor: Dan Hope
The Buffalo Bills’ process of reducing their roster to the 53-man regular season limit is well underway. The Bills released 10 players Friday, including punter Brian Moorman and defensive tackle Landon Cohen, and also added three to injured reserve, to bring their roster down to 62 men.
Moorman was perhaps the notable player cut by the Bills on Friday.
He has punted in at least three games for Buffalo in every season since 2001, but the Bills made the right decision Friday in moving on.
Moorman was one of the NFL’s worst punters last season—he ranked 31st in the league in punting average (41.2 yards per punt), 30th in net punting average (36.6 net yards) and 31st in punts inside the 20-yard line (16). He hadn’t fared much better this preseason—he averaged just 40.2 yards and 37.4 net yards per punt and just five of his 16 punts were downed inside the 20.
In a classy gesture, Moorman penned an open letter thanking the Bills and the Buffalo community for supporting him during his time with the team.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) August 29, 2014
With Moorman released, it’s unclear who will be punting for the Bills in 2014. They still have Jordan Gay on their roster, but he has been wildly inconsistent this preseason. Expect Buffalo to bring in a punter cut by someone else to take the job. According to WIVB’s Lauren Brill, the Bills plan on bringing in Drew Butler, who was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ punter in 2012 and was cut by the Detroit Lions earlier this week, for a workout.
The most surprising move Friday was the release of defensive tackle Landon Cohen.
Arguably the Bills’ biggest star of their five-game exhibition season, Cohen had 10 defensive stops and was ranked by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) as the NFL’s second-best defensive tackle this preseason. He displayed consistent quickness and penetrated opposing backfields in every preseason game. Seemingly, Cohen did everything he could have done to earn a roster spot.
That said, it’s understandable why he ended up being released. As Twitter user mork1215 astutely noted, this wasn’t the first summer Cohen stood out, yet Cohen has already spent time with 10 NFL teams since 2008 and has never been productive at any stop.
@Dan_Hope Cohen is a preseason superstar, he did it in Detroit for 2-3 years. As Schwartz knows, he disappears when lights come on
— Mork (@mork1215) August 23, 2014
All of Cohen’s play this summer came with backups against backups; his quickness would not have stood out to the same degree if he was working with the starters. His preseason greatness might not have translated to regular-season performance.
Cohen earned himself another chance in the NFL—and it’s likely another team will pick him up to give him one—but he was a victim to depth in Buffalo. When the Bills released Alan Branch and Damien Jacobs prior to the 75-man cutdown, leaving them with only five defensive tackles on their roster, it was an indicator that they only wanted to keep four DTs. Despite his strong August, Cohen was still the team’s fifth player at the position, behind primary backups Corbin Bryant and Stefan Charles, who also had fantastic preseasons.
One other notable release Friday was quarterback Jordan Palmer, just three days after he was signed by the Bills to replace Thad Lewis on their 75-man roster. It appears that the Bills used the final three quarters of Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Detroit Lions as his audition to be the team’s backup quarterback. He flunked the audition by completing just nine of 22 passing attempts for 73 yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
Palmer wasn’t good enough to stick around, but don’t think that means the Bills are done looking for quarterbacks. It’s become pretty clear in the past two weeks that Buffalo is not satisfied with Jeff Tuel, who did not play Thursday, as its backup quarterback. Expect the Bills to keep a close eye on which quarterbacks get cut around the league by Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline, and it’s likely they’ll pick one up by Sunday.
The rest of Buffalo’s roster moves were all expected.
Also released were linebacker Xavius Boyd, tight end Dominique Jones, cornerbacks Kamaal McIlwain and Sam Miller, fullback Evan Rodriguez, wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt and offensive lineman Jared Wheeler.
Rodriguez played in seven games for the Bills last season, but it would have been a surprise if the Bills kept two fullbacks or kept him over Frank Summers on the 53-man roster. Boyd, Jones, McIlwain, Miller, Roosevelt and Wheeler were all late additions to Buffalo’s training camp roster, signed in July, and were always long shots to make it past cutdowns.
Placed on injured reserve Friday were cornerbacks Mario Butler and Bobby Felder and tight end Tony Moeaki. All three of them were likely to be released if not for injuries, so each might actually benefit as the Bills will have to pay them for the 2014 season rather than sending them into unemployment.
Cuts not done yet
The Bills still make must nine roster moves by Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline. One of those roster moves will be covered by linebacker Nigel Bradham’s one-week suspension, which takes effect at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Still the Bills must make eight more cuts, and that number is likely to rise to at least 10 players currently on the roster, as the Bills are likely to bring in another quarterback and another punter, and could look for other talent cut by other teams as well.
The only player released thus far from our latest 53-man roster projection is Cohen, although the Bills still need to make the roster additions that will the punter and No. 3 quarterback spots on the depth chart.
Check back shortly for another update of our 53-man roster and depth chart projection.
Tags: 53 Man Roster, Bobby Felder, Brian Moorman, Dominique Jones, Evan Rodriguez, Injured Reserve, Jared Wheeler, Jordan Palmer, Kamaal McIlwain, Landon Cohen, Mario Butler, Naaman Roosevelt, Roster Cuts, Roster Projections, Sam Miller, Tony Moeaki, Xavius Boyd