The Buffalo Bills made 35 moves Saturday, trimming their roster from 87 to 52 players, one fewer than the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here's a closer look at the final cuts:
Most significant move: When I projected the Bills' 53-man roster earlier this week, I mentioned the possibility of the Bills trading AJ McCarron to the Oakland Raiders given McCarron seemingly falling behind in the Bills' quarterback competition and Jon Gruden's stated desire to find a backup quarterback. Indeed, Buffalo traded McCarron to Oakland on Saturday for a 2019 fifth-round pick. After a right shoulder injury knocked his preseason off track and his statistics were terrible through the first three quarters of Thursday's preseason finale, McCarron might have resurrected his trade value with a fourth-quarter comeback in which he led the Bills on four touchdown drives to win the game. However, the mere fact that McCarron was playing in the finale while Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen were held out was evidence that McCarron was in danger of not having a role. The Bills could now carry two quarterbacks into the regular season, which they did last season -- although wide receiver Joe Webb served as an emergency quarterback. The Bills will take a $2.1 million dead-money hit against their 2018 salary cap and a $2 million hit against their 2019 salary cap by trading McCarron. That will give the Bills about $52 million in dead money in 2018, or almost twice the amount of the next-highest team as of Friday -- the Dallas Cowboys, with $26.5 million.
Preseason trade flops: The Bills waived wide receiver Corey Coleman, a former first-round pick whom they acquired in an Aug. 5 trade from the Cleveland Browns for a non-conditional seventh-round pick in 2020. Coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll both hinted this preseason at Coleman perhaps being slow to pick up the Bills' system -- or not reaching a point in his growth they desired -- which was evidenced at one point in the third preseason game when Coleman needed help from teammates on where to line up on a play. The Bills could have continued to try to work with Coleman, whose speed and athletic ability made him the No. 15 overall pick in 2016, but it became clear by the end of the preseason that he did not have a role in the offense. The Bills will enter the season with Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones and Jeremy Kerley as their top group of receivers with Andre Holmes as a key special-teams player. Having not cracked the core offensive rotation and not offering much value on special teams, Coleman became expendable. The Bills will take a $3.5 million dead-money hit against their 2018 salary cap as a result of Coleman's $1.5 million fully guaranteed base salary this season and his $2 million fully guaranteed base salary in 2019 that accelerates onto this season's salary cap.
Roster stands at 52 players: The Bills decided to make one more move than necessary Saturday, trimming their roster to 52 players. That puts them in a position to claim a player (or multiple players) off waivers when the NFL's claiming period for players released Saturday ends at noon Sunday. One question will be whether Buffalo will opt to carry a third quarterback on its 53-man roster or instead sign one to their practice squad. The Bills are not thin on numbers anywhere else on their roster, so they could look to upgrade at any spots where they might feel there is room and an opportunity to get better. Offensive line is one possibility.
Bills' moves: Waived: RB Keith Ford, FB Sam Rogers, WR Corey Coleman, WR Kaelin Clay, WR Brandon Reilly, WR Malachi Dupre, WR Cam Phillips, WR Austin Proehl, TE Nick O'Leary, TE Keith Towbridge, OT Mo Porter, OL De'Ondre Wesley, OL Ike Boettger, OL Josh James, OL Gerhard de Beer, C Adam Remond, DE Mike Love, DE Mat Boesen, DT Rickey Hatley, DT Albert Havili, LB Tanner Vallejo, LB Corey Thompson, LB Xavier Woodson-Luster, CB Breon Borders, CB Levi Wallace, CB Ryan Carter, S Dean Marlowe, DE Ryan Russell Terminated vested veterans: RB Travaris Cadet, WR Rod Streater, DE Terrence Fede, DT Tyrunn Walker, S Kelcie McCray, P Jon Ryan; Traded: QB AJ McCarron (to Raiders for fifth-round pick in 2019).