Let’s take a look at how the Bills 53 man roster could be constructed and where they could potentially carry fewer players and save roster spots for other areas.
Many Bills sportswriters and experts release their 53 man roster projections all throughout the offseason. Some right after the draft, some closer to minicamps and of course during training camp. It’s a fun exercise to start thinking about what the roster could look like well before it’s an appropriate time to do so. That’s why we as fans love reading them even in April right after the draft.
We are not going to go through that exercise right now. Instead, let’s take a look at the position structure of each of these experts 53 man rosters and analyze what we like or don’t like about them.
All four men agree on the number of players at these positions: QB (3), FB (1), TE (3), ILB (4), CB (6), P (1) and one long snapper as well. The rest of the positions they varied on the number of players and we will examine that as well as some of the positions they all agreed on because we don’t agree with them.
Let’s start with tight ends. Last year the Bills carried four tight ends for most of the season. However, all agree they will only carry three this year. I don’t agree. The Bills are going to take four of the five currently on the roster into next year. Blake Annen, Nick O’Leary or Chris Gragg will be left off the roster.
With the fullback position, they all have the Bills keeping Jerome Felton. We pointed out in a previous article that Jerome Felton only played 26.5% of the offensive snaps last year. If the Bills don’t plan on using him more (and why should they, they had the number one running attack in the league) they should cut him and head into the season with no fullbacks. Blocking tight end Jim Dray can serve as a “fullback” when needed.
Cutting Felton would save the Bills $1.65 million in salary cap space while costing them $650,000 of dead money against their salary cap in each of the next three seasons according to OverTheCap.com. By not keeping Felton, the Bills could keep that fourth tight end just like last year or use that spot somewhere else.
They all had four running backs except Jay Skurski who had three. Skurski could be on to something here. While you’d think a team that wants to “ground and pound” should carry a ton of backs into the year, that doesn’t need to be the case. Just look at how the Bills were able to plug in Gillislee off the practice squad and how he was able to contribute.
With a good offensive line and with great schemes from Greg Roman, the Bills could do something similar this year and save a roster spot by carrying three backs instead of four. The three I’d keep are Shady and both Williams. I love Mike Gillislee, but he is replaceable and has the least upside out of the younger ones.
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Another area these writers may have overlooked is kicker except Mike Rodak. Rodak is the only one who had them keeping two kickers with Dan Carpenter and kickoff specialist Jordan Gay. While we agree with the other analysts that the Bills SHOULD only keep one kicker, it’s very likely that Rodak is right and they carry two into the season again.
Gay has been important at times for the Bills, but the team is insane to keep two kickers on the roster when it might mean they can’t keep a guy like Eric Striker or Glenn Gronkowski who could have potential down the road.
The rest of the positions there is not too much to talk about. Some have them keeping an extra receiver, while others have them keeping an extra defensive lineman versus a linebacker. With linebacker and wide receiver, a lot of how many you keep can depend on special teams more than how you want to ideally construct your roster.
You only get 53 roster spots in the NFL and it’s tough to whittle down to that number. The Bills could open room to keep some of their younger players with more upside if they would consider, cutting Felton, using Jim Dray when needed at fullback, keeping only one kicker and carrying only three running backs.
That opens up three extra spots to keep an extra receiver like Kolby Listenbee, a cornerback like Kevon Seymour or the previously mentioned Striker and Gronkowski. It’s certainly something to think about for the team.
How would you construct the Bills roster? Which positions do you think you’d carry fewer or more players at?