Bills long-snapper Reid Ferguson was among the cuts Wednesday, but re-signed on Thursday. He was the Bills’ nominee for the 2022 NFL Salute to Service Award (Buffalo Bills file photo).
A column by CHUCK POLLOCK
So what do we make of the Bills’ cut to 53 players Wednesday afternoon?
For the record, 17 of the players who were on the roster for the home playoff embarrassment by Cincinnati last January are no longer on the squad.
That’s just about a third, normal for an NFL team.
To get there, Buffalo needed to waive 34 players from its 90-man roster.
For the uninitiated, there were two surprises — linebacker A.J. Klein and long-snapper Reid Ferguson — but, fear not, by the time you read this, both will likely be back on the squad.
No way would Buffalo cut a candidate for the undermanned middle linebacker position or one the league’s top long-snappers.
As vested veterans, they were not subjected to waivers and the Bills could merely re-sign them today and release two young players who made the 53-man squad and immediately, at some risk, re-sign them to the practice squad.
The 32 other released players — over Monday and Tuesday — included seven each wide receivers and offensive linemen, four defensive tackles, three each linebackers, safeties, cornerbacks and running backs, two tight ends and one each defensive end and long-snapper.
HOWEVER, some other machinations were required to reach the regular-season maximum.
To start, Buffalo released defensive end Shane Ray with an injury settlement.
Then, quarterback Matt Barkley was placed on injured reserve and, to no one’s surprise, defensive end Von Miller was put on the physically-unable-to-perform list and will miss at least the first four games of the season.
There’s reason to be wary when a player predicts his return from a major injury.
In 2021, cornerback Tre-Davious White tore his ACL on Thanksgiving night but, after surgery, assured fans he’d be ready for the ‘22 opener. He wasn’t and began the season on injured reserve. He still wasn’t ready after the six-week mark when he was eligible to return and, due to setbacks, White didn’t come back until the season’s 10th game.
The following Thanksgiving, Miller suffered that same injury and vowed he’d be back for Game 1. Instead he’s on PUP but, due to a rule change, he’s eligible to return after four weeks. No matter, Buffalo will be without its best pass rusher for the season’s first month when it plays at the Jets, home against Las Vegas, at Washington and home versus Miami.
The other move was a virtual admission of a wasted draft pick.
General manager Brandon Beane, who bizarrely selected defensive ends in the first two rounds of the ‘21 lottery, gave up on one of them Tuesday afternoon.
First rounder Greg Rousseau is still with the team, but Boogie Basham, taken in the second round, was sent to the Giants along with a seventh-round draft pick in ‘25 for a sixth rounder in the same draft.
Clearly, New York general manager Joe Schoen, Buffalo’s assistant GM when Basham was picked, saw something in him. And risking a sixth-round pick was well worth the gamble.
But, for Beane, it’s an embarrassment, getting so little value for such a high pick who was a total non-contributor.
AS IT TURNS OUT, 13 of the new Bills are free agents, including two of the street variety, offensive lineman Alec Anderson and former practice squadder Kingsley Jonathan, a defensive end. Two of ‘23’s six draftees, both seventh rounders, didn’t survive the cut — cornerback Alex Austin and guard Nick Broeker — but don’t be surprised if they’re signed to the practice squad today.
Indeed, the day after cutdown is one of the most active of the year and be assured Buffalo’s roster will look a bit different by tonight.
NOTE: At 4:15 p.m. Thursday the Bills announced they have re-signed long-snapper Reid Ferguson and signed tackle Germain Ifedi, an 8-year NFL veteran from Houston who played at Texas A&M. He was a first-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2016 and started 83 of 102 games with the Seahawks, Falcons and Bears.
(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at email@example.com.)
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