BBD Editor: Dan Hope
The Buffalo Bills’ regular-season roster is set (at least for now). The Bills signed two players Saturday, but also released 10 in advance of Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline to reach the 53-man active roster limit.
Buffalo’s backup quarterback carousel continues
Orton, who has 68 career starts in nine NFL seasons, gives the Bills an experienced, solid No. 2 signal-caller behind second-year quarterback EJ Manuel, who struggled throughout this preseason.
The Bills certainly shouldn’t want to have to turn to Orton. He didn’t participate in any team’s training camp or preseason this year, and he has a career quarterback rating of only 79.9. But he’s more capable of playing if needed than any of the signal-callers the Bills previously had on their roster this summer.
Update: Per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Kyle Orton’s deal with the Bills is worth $5 million.
Tuel showed some promise in his rookie season and this summer, but it became clear over the past few weeks that the Bills were unsatisfied with Tuel as their second-string quarterback. The Bills decided they didn’t want to keep three quarterbacks, but Tuel should be a clear choice for the practice squad if he goes unclaimed by the rest of the league.
Competition still to be had at punter
Buffalo also addressed another position of need Saturday by signing punter Colton Schmidt.
Schmidt, who led all NFL punters this preseason with a net average of 46.1 yards per punt, should be an upgrade over Brian Moorman, who was released Friday.
BBD’s Joe Marino pinpointed Schmidt earlier this week as a player the Bills should target:
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) August 26, 2014
Bills coach Doug Marrone has expressed his desire for the team to have someone other than Dan Carpenter handling the duty of kickoff specialist, and that role could go to Schmidt. He had two touchbacks in five kickoffs for the 49ers this preseason.
Schmidt will be expected to compete with Jordan Gay, who was signed last week and is still on the roster, for the team’s punting and kickoff jobs during practices this upcoming week. It is likely that the loser of that battle will be released in favor of another player prior to the team’s Week 1 game; at the very least, one of them should be released by Week 2, when the Bills will add suspended linebacker Nigel Bradham back to their active roster.
Other players released
Among all of the players released Saturday, the most notable might have been wide receiver T.J. Graham.
A third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Graham has explosive speed and was expected to emerge as a big-play weapon for the Buffalo offense. That never happened. In two seasons with the Bills, Graham accumulated just 54 receptions for 683 yards and three touchdowns.
According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, who first reported Graham’s release, the NC State product had been on the trade block “going back to last season.”
Graham wouldn’t have had much value on the Bills roster this year; Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin and Chris Hogan were all ahead of him on the team’s receiving depth char. It wouldn’t have made much sense to keep Graham over Marcus Easley, who is a core special teams player, as the sixth wide receiver.
Graham is eligible for one of two practice squad spots available to players who have no more than two accrued seasons in the NFL. He is likely to be brought back unless he is claimed by another team.
Another notable cut by the Bills on Saturday was interior offensive lineman Doug Legursky.
Although Legursky was the Bills’ starting left guard last year, his release doesn’t come as much surprise. Legursky was shuffled down the depth chart this year and was seemingly in competition with Kraig Urbik, who started at right guard for Buffalo last season, for the team’s final roster spot on the offensive line.
The decision to keep Urbik over Legursky means that Urbik will have to be the Bills’ backup center in addition to being the team’s fourth guard, behind starters Chris Williams and Erik Pears and rookie Cyril Richardson.
The other seven players released by the Bills on cutdown day were safeties Deon Broomfield and Kenny Ladler, linebacker Jimmy Gaines, wide receiver Caleb Holley, defensive ends Ike Igbinosun and Bryan Johnson and guard Antoine McClain. All of them are prime candidates for the practice squad if they are not claimed by other teams.
A look at the current 53-man roster
Here’s how the Bills’ roster currently stacks up following Saturday’s cuts. (Note: There are 54 players listed here because Bradham does not count against the active roster total while suspended for Week 1.)
QB: EJ Manuel, Kyle Orton
RB: C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon, Bryce Brown
FB: Frank Summers
WR: Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley
TE: Scott Chandler, Lee Smith, Chris Gragg
OL: Cordy Glenn, Chris Williams, Eric Wood, Erik Pears, Seantrel Henderson, Cyril Richardson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Chris Hairston, Kraig Urbik
DE: Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Jarius Wynn, Jacquies Smith
DT: Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles
LB: Brandon Spikes, Keith Rivers, Nigel Bradham (suspended for Week 1), Preston Brown, Ty Powell, Randell Johnson
CB: Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Nickell Robey, Corey Graham, Ron Brooks, Ross Cockrell
S: Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks
K: Dan Carpenter
P: Colton Schmidt, Jordan Gay
LS: Garrison Sanborn
Tags: 53 Man Roster, Antoine McClain, Bryan Johnson, Caleb Holley, Colton Schmidt, Deon Broomfield, Doug Legursky, Ike Igbinosun, Jeff Tuel, Jimmy Gaines, Kenny Ladler, Kyle Orton, Punters, Quarterbacks, Roster Cuts, T.J. Graham