The long and eventful haul that is known as the “player transition” portion of the offseason, which consists of players earning big contracts in the free agent market and the drafting of the NFL’s next generation of stars is over. Unlike last year, the Buffalo Bills were very frugal with their spending during the 2015 offseason, opting to retain their own (Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito). The main focus, for them, was the draft and it seems like the class is a good one because they filled needs and stocked up the depth at other positions.
We are now transitioning into the training camp and preseason part of the offseason as OTAs and Minicamp just wrapped up the other day. Currently there are 90 players on the roster. This has to be cut down to 53 players before the start of week 1. Not all the starters and key role players from last year are safe and will have to fight to keep their spot on the roster.
Today we are going to look at five ‘bubble’ players that are in danger to not be wearing Bills’ colors come September 11th.
FB Jerome Felton
One signing the Bills made last year that didn’t turn out exactly as planned the acquisiton of fullback Jerome Felton. It is not necessarily that Jerome Felton is, or was bad, it was the contract they gave him that is bad. 4 years $9.2 million dollar deal with $3.6 million bonus is quite lucrative for a fullback.
According to Spotrac, his cap hit in 2016 is $2.3 million dollars. It would only cost the Bills $1.95 million in dead money to pull the plug on Felton. They need to save all the money they can to extend cornerback Stephon Gilmore and potentially quarterback Tyrod Taylor as well
To make matters worse they rarely used Felton, despite having a heavy rushing attack and leading the league in that category. Felton was only on the field for 285 snaps out of 1,076. Not good. When he was on the field his play wasn’t anything special either.
The Bills brought in Glenn Gronkowski, an undrafted free agent from Kansas State, to compete with Felton. It seems like Rex would love to have a Gronkowski on his team as well.
S Duke Williams
One of the many players to not pick up Rex’s defensive scheme in 2015 was safety Duke Williams. Williams always looked confused and lost, like he had no idea what he was doing. You could almost always link him back to coverage breakdowns like the one against Rob Gronkowski and another one against the Jacksonville Jaguars. I blame this partly on him, but also on Rex Ryan.
In terms of money, Duke Williams’, being a former 4th round draft pick, current hit against the cap as of today is $792,563. The figure we would lose in dead money is $117,563. Although the Bills don’t gain too much from cutting him, they do not lose much either. This allows them to cut Williams without too much backlash against their precious cap space.
The signings of Colt Anderson and Robert Blanton at the safety position also increases the chances of Williams being cut. Blanton played at a high level in 2014 before losing his job in 2015 for the Minnesota Vikings. Anderson could beat out Williams on special teams and prevent Williams from staying on the roster that way.
WR Marquise Goodwin
Wide out Marquise Goodwin’s blazing speed has been diminished by his major liability to stay healthy. Goodwin has been taking up a spot on the injured reserve list these last two years. He seems to have racked up more injuries than catches in his career. Also, The Bills drafted a speed receiver in the 6th round by the name of Kolby Listenbee from TCU, who could potentially replace Goodwin altogether.
Goodwin’s cap hit sits at $859,719 for 2016 with dead money being at $149,719 if released, much like Duke Williams, the cap gain and loss shouldn’t matter at all.
Another factor as to why he is on the “bubble” is the fact that he seems to be more focused on track than football. Rex Ryan is allowing Goodwin to compete in the summer Olympics, meaning he is going to miss most of training camp and the preseason. It is in question whether he would be back before the regular season.
When on the field Goodwin hasn’t produced much either. In 2013, he caught 17 passes for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns in 12 games. The following years he battled injuries and only amassed 1 catch for 42 yards.
CB Nickell Robey
This might come as a surprise to some people considering Robey has been the Bills starting slot corner the last three years. Although he signed a 2 year $4.1 million dollar extension with the team last August he could very well be packing his bags this time around.
First of all, the Bills signed Sterling Moore this year who Pro Football Focus graded as the 66th best cornerback in the league compared to Robey who graded out as the 89th best cornerback. Neither inspire much confidence, but one is clearly rated higher than the other. 6th round rookie Kevon Seymour has also been impressing at OTAs/minicamp while working with the ones because of Stephon Gilmore’s absence. This only adds to the competition at the slot cornerback position.
Second of all, Robey has allowed 1,041 receiving yards and a passer rating north of 100.0 over the past two seasons combined. However, he has had his fair share of plays, including some huge pass breakups.
Robey’s number against the cap is $1,658,333 dollars and if he were to be cut there would be $991,668 in dead money against the Bills. It would not make much sense to cut him as it looks currently considering he is the frontrunner to win the slot corner job between the trio. But he could easily be bumped down by both Sterling Moore and Kevon Seymour, then it would make much more sense in that scenario.
K Dan Carpenter
After two strong seasons as the Bills kicker, Dan Carpenter regressed mightily in 2015. Especially in wake of the new Point after Touchdown rule where the PAT was moved back to the 15 yard line. Carpenter struggled throughout the season missing six extra points in total. He also missed four field goals.
Rex Ryan was very vocal about it throughout the season and even signed Billy Cundiff midseason to add competition. However, Cundiff was eventually let go and Carpenter remained for the rest of the season.
During the offseason Carpenter took a pay cut from $2.025 Million to $1.775 Million from the contract he signed in 2014. His cap figure is $2,587,500 with a dead money total of $1,075,000 if released or traded. If undrafted rookie Marshall Morgan from Georgia impresses in camp the Bills could very well let go of the 8 year veteran.