The Buffalo Bills will cut their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here’s a projection:
No surprise here. The Bills are committed to Allen as their franchise quarterback and Barkley has easily outshined undrafted rookie Tyree Jackson throughout training camp and the preseason. While Jackson’s physical tools are evident, his production does not suggest another team will pick him up if he’s cut by Buffalo, making him a candidate for the practice squad.
The Bills publicly backed McCoy at the beginning of training camp and haven’t wavered; he will be the first Bills running back to touch the ball come the Sept. 8 season opener against the New York Jets. Gore still looks like an effective runner and should split carries with McCoy while offensive coordinator Brian Daboll gets creative with rookie Singletary’s touches. Senorise Perry initially earned the nod over Yeldon because of his special teams prowess, but the latter has established himself on special teams recently and is the more effective runner. Former Rugby star Christian Wade projects as a practice squad member if he is not picked up by another team.
The first surprise of this projection is the Bills’ decision to keep McKenzie and Williams after a tightly-contested competition for the team’s final receiver spot. Beasley, Brown, Jones and Roberts were always roster locks and Foster’s finish to the 2018 season offered a glimpse of his ceiling. McKenzie’s catch-and-run ability out of the slot is valuable but GM Brandon Beane said during training camp that the team still needs “that big target to be able to make plays on third-and-short, or the red zone,” which fits right into Williams’ skill set.
FULLBACK (1): Patrick DiMarco
A team captain and special teams stalwart, DiMarco earns a spot here despite his position’s fading relevance in the modern NFL.
The Bills’ biggest question at tight end is what they’ll do with Tyler Kroft, who has been on the physically unable to perform list all preseason. Rookie seventh-round pick Sweeney has impressed as the Bills’ starting tight end and Knox played well in his debut against the Lions. Considering Smith’s role as the team’s blocking tight end, Jason Croom is the odd man out after missing the Bills’ first three preseason games with a hamstring injury.
The Bills’ best five offensive linemen have separated themselves despite a slew of injuries to the position group. Ford should start at right guard and spell Nsekhe at right tackle, while Spain starts at left guard. Teller, Long and Feliciano add interior depth and Bates offers coveted position flexibility after the team traded for him during training camp.
Not much change from the preseason projection, with the exception of Johnson over Mike Love. Johnson, a seventh-round pick, was impressive in his first two games. Though Love outplayed him against the Lions, Johnson’s size (6-6, 253 pounds), speed and youth make him a more attractive depth piece.
This is where things get difficult. Maurice Alexander could make an argument for a roster spot, but Thompson turned in a solid preseason and Joseph’s status as a fifth-round pick gives him a bit more leniency as he develops. Deon Lacey, a special teams mainstay the past two seasons, also draws the short straw here.
White, Poyer, Hyde and Wallace make up a strong starting secondary, with Taron Johnson and Neal playing nickel corner. Kevin Johnson provides functional depth and Munnerlyn and Coleman are veterans with experience under McDermott. Jaquan Johnson has quietly flashed the playmaking and ball-hawking abilities that made him a star at Miami.
Hauschka has missed a couple of kicks, but his roster spot is secure, as is Ferguson’s. Corey Carter’s late injury might clear the way for Bojorquez, although neither has stood out to this point. With former Patriots punter Ryan Allen on the free-agent market, the Bills could opt to sign him.