The Buffalo Bills cut 21 players Friday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the final cuts:
Most significant move: It's clearly the decision to release Manny Lawson and Jerome Felton. Both veterans were expected to make the 53-man roster, so both moves qualify as surprises. Salary cap considerations were likely part of it; the Bills will save $2.35 million from the Lawson's deal and $1.55 million from Felton's deal. But there could be other factors. Lawson faces a potential suspension for a personal-conduct policy violation, while the Bills are excited about the play of undrafted rookie fullback Glenn Gronkowski. Moving on from Lawson and Felton allows the Bills to save money and get younger, although they lose some veteran leadership in their locker room and also thin their depth at outside linebacker.
Most significant non-move: The Bills chose to keep two undrafted rookies on their 53-man roster: Gronkowski and outside linebacker Bryson Albright. Unless something changes before Sept. 11, it will be the first time the Bills have kept two undrafted rookies on their opening-day roster since 2013, when quarterback Jeff Tuel and cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman stuck. Albright's chances improved when IK Enemkpali suffered a torn ACL during training camp, and his role as a reserve pass-rusher was solidified when Lawson was released. The 6-foot-5 former Miami University (Ohio) defensive end needs to bulk up -- he's listed at just 225 pounds -- but he has the frame to fit the NFL standards at his position.
Bills keep six safeties: Rex Ryan was asked earlier this week if he's ever kept six safeties on his 53-man roster, and he couldn't remember a time when he did -- although he could remember keeping five safeties. For now, the Bills have six safeties on their roster: starters Aaron Williams and Corey Graham, as well as reserves Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks, Robert Blanton and Colt Anderson. Injuries could play a role here, as Williams is still in the concussion protocol and Anderson suffered a foot injury in Thursday's preseason finale. But Blanton, an offseason free-agent signing who slid down the depth chart this preseason, can breathe a sigh of relief for now.
Potential waiver-wire targets: The Bills will practice Friday afternoon before having the long Labor Day weekend off. That could give the front office time to scour the waiver wire for potential help at tight end, defensive line and outside linebacker. Those positions are thin on talent, experience, or numbers compared to the rest of the roster. With Marcell Dareus suspended for the first four games of the season, the Bills only have five defensive linemen on their current roster.
Bills' moves: OLB Manny Lawson; FB Jerome Felton; CB Sterling Moore; Fernando Velasco; OLB Kroy Biermann; ILB Randell Johnson; WR Kain Colter; OT Chris Martin; RB James Wilder, Jr.; TE Blake Annen; WR Jarrett Boykin; CB Mario Butler; CB Sammy Seamster; DL Brandon Deaderick; DE Lavar Edwards; RB Boom Herron; WR Dezmin Lewis; OT Marquis Lucas; G Cyril Richardson; OLB Max Valles; DT Casey Walker