Jerome Felton: Either Use Him, Or Cut Him
Jerome Felton was supposed to be a major part of the Buffalo Bills running attack this past year so what exactly happened? Felton only played in 26.5% of the total offensive snaps for the Bills during the season. He was ranked the third worst player out of twenty-two in his position who had played more than 25 percent of the total running snaps for their team by Pro Football Focus.
It’s alarming that the biggest part of Felton’s negative grade came from the run blocking category which was supposed to be his strength and the reason he was signed to a big contract. To be fair to him, he did finish fourth or better among fullbacks by Pro Football Focus in the prior three seasons so it could just be an aberration.
Last March the Buffalo Bills made him the second highest paid fullback in the NFL when they signed him to a four-year, 9.2 million dollar deal with 3.6 million guaranteed according to Spotrac.com. It was only a few months before Felton was signed that Rex Ryan added offensive coordinator Greg Roman to his staff and they both expressed their desire to have a “Ground N’ Pound” style running attack.
The Buffalo Bills could save $1,650,000 if they cut Felton after June 1st. Considering the average fullback in the NFL makes about $1,000,000, they could cut him and sign another fullback at an average salary and still save $650,000. Felton’s replacement in Minnesota last season only made $585,000 so there is a possibility to save even more than that. With the Bills currently in an unfavorable salary-cap situation, any money that they can save by cutting or restructuring players is going to be important for them when filling out the roster through the draft and free agency.
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In addition to saving money, Buffalo can save something even more valuable by cutting him. A roster spot. The Bills keep two place kickers on their roster which is one more than most teams. Space on their roster is already thin. Carrying four players between fullbacks and tight ends is also one more than you would normally keep. It would be wise for the Bills to consider carrying one less person at either kicker, tight end or fullback next season and instead carry an extra defensive lineman, safety, linebacker or offensive lineman which were all spots where they experienced various depth issues this past season.
The Buffalo Bills carried, at least, four active tight ends in each week of the season except for the last two when Charles Clay was injured. There was even a week in which the Bills used five of their 46 active roster spots between these two positions. It is difficult to justify using that many spots between these two positions, especially when considering the previous point about keeping two kickers.
The Bills need to decide whether Jerome Felton is going to be a bigger part of the offense in 2016 or not. Playing only 26.5% of the snaps while commanding the salary that he does means you are not getting a lot of bang for your buck so to speak.
If Buffalo does decide to move forward with Felton they need to make sure they increase the amount of snaps he gets while Felton needs to make sure his production on those snaps is better than it was last year. If the Bills plan on using him sporadically like they did this past season, it does not make sense to continue to keep him on the team for salary cap and roster space reasons.
What do you think? Should the Bills keep Jerome Felton next season and try to use him more often or should they cut him after June 1st and move forward without him?