With Monday morning came the announcement that the roster had been whittled down to 76 players (one more than the mandated 75 due to the roster exemption granted for Jairus Byrd). This was extremely painful news for a few, but hopes were kept alive for so many more. There are still bigger cuts to come as the roster will have to be reduced to 53 by the regular season but at least for now bubble players who held on can breathe a sigh of relief.
Clearing up the WR picture
The most surprising cut was fan favorite Da’Rick Rogers. The undrafted free agent from Tennessee Tech had promising athletic ability, but wasn’t consistent enough to keep himself alive in the competition for the last couple spots in this young squad of wide receivers. Though many of us will still wonder if with time he could have ended up a star, his potential didn’t translate into production well enough this offseason to warrant holding onto him.
The Bills also released DeMarco Sampson from the group of wide receivers. This is less of a surprise but with the release of these two players the final wide receiver depth chart is becoming much less murky then it was earlier this offseason. I won’t venture to guess who the final 5 or 6 are going to be but I have faith in this coaching staff to choose the correct few, even if us fans disagree.
The Kick is Up, and it’s Good
Although the release of decade long Bills veteran Rian Lindell took place before this group of cuts it is still clearly note worthy. It’s always difficult to watch a player leave, but when her leaves as gracefully as Lindell did it is much easier. It was nice to hear that he had no hard feelings toward the organization, and that Lindell himself said the better kicker won the job.
Hopkins rounds off a group of now all Florida State alumni specialists for the Bills, along with long snapper Garrison Sanborn and punter Shawn Powell. He has a strong leg and good accuracy hitting 81% of his field goals at Florida State, and proving he can even drill them from 50+ yards. On top of that he set a school record for consecutive PATs made, and an NCAA division 1 record for scoring by a kicker in his career. He has the ability to be a long term special teams asset for this team, hopefully hitting a Super Bowl winning field goal or two before the end of his career.
Cutting Back on Defensive Backs
The only other surprising aspect of the Monday cuts is that we dropped two players from the defensive backfield. With Byrd having to get up to speed, and Gilmore down I’m surprised they didn’t hold on two at least one of the two. Again it comes down to trusting that Marrone and his staff are right when they said Monday that each one was released because they feel there are better players still on the roster!