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Questionable roster choices have hurt the Bills depth

November 7, 2012

Terrence McGee’s career developed an extremely unfortunate trend the past few years. He has, quite literally, been limping towards oblivion and landing on the IR this week might just seal the deal for the longtime Bill.

Joining McGee on the IR is right tackle Erik Pears. John Potter was also released, making room for three players on the 53-man roster. Buffalo has since filled the three vacant spots and head into the rest of the week’s practices with a full roster.

Marcus Easley has finally found his way to the active roster after three seasons of hardships. Easley, elevated from the practice squad fills the spot that the Bills had allocated for their additional specialist at the beginning of the season. The Bills filled the other two spots with tackle Thomas Welch and CB Crezdon Butler.

Hopefully Easley is able to find his way into the offense right away. His size and speed are an alluring attribute which should at least give a bit more variety in the targets at Ryan Fitzpatrick’s disposal. However, Chan Gailey thinks it might be tough for him to find his way into the lineup right away. Because, you know, Easley hasn’t been with the Bills for three-straight seasons.

Easley does fill out Buffalo’s skill positions quite well considering the low number of receivers on the roster. In addition, needing to fill the vacated roster spots left by Pears and McGee was imperative. With very few options available at this point in the season, there was little option other than poaching practice squads or reaching out to late roster cuts.

Without knowing the full story on his release, it is hard to say whether Stanford Routt would have been a viable option as a signing at corner. Not only would Routt have filled the hole left by McGee, he is probably an immediate upgrade over the injured Aaron Williams as well. What I fear is that Butler will be little more than a special teams contributor for the Bills.

Adding Welch is less of a surprise because of the general lack of talent at such a position this late in the year. I might have entertained Reggie Wells again considering the lack of depth inside, but getting a natural tackle who could swing inside is likely the safe bet.

The need to fill space at corner and wide out is something that raises a red flag for me. Perhaps it does for other fans as well. What it points to is a general mismanagement of the entire roster that has seemed evident since the spring.

Beginning with the decision to release Drayton Florence, despite the near certainty that Terrence McGee wouldn’t be playing with two healthy, was the first question mark. Further questions arose with the decision to cut Vince Young and replace him with Tavaris Jackson a week before the season began. In addition was the breakdown of the 53-man roster with four quarterbacks (counting Brad Smith) and four specialists as opposed to other evident needs.

Obviously the Young/Jackson decision has received plenty of flak, but the big picture issue is what is at stake. For a team that is flirting with another season without the playoffs, are they truly trying to improve their roster whenever possible?

Obviously the gamble on Potter was a bust. But his inclusion on the roster not only limited the number of receivers the Bills ended up keeping (a minor loss) but also other positions up and down the roster. For example, Tank Carder and Mark Asper’s release may have been directly tied to the decision to keep Potter.

I can give them credit for rolling the dice on a specialist (like Potter) or a gimmick player. Such a move could pay dividends. As it turns out, Potter the right guy for the job and now the gamble looks rather foolish. What is somewhat maddening to me – and likely a number of fans across Bills Nation – was the early choice of McGee over Florence.

There is nothing wrong with being loyal to a player that has done so much for the franchise as McGee. In fact, I’m a big fan of his. However, I find it hard to believe that he was expected to contribute in any major way based on the progress his knee had made in the spring. While Drayton Florence wasn’t going to be a gamebreaker, he was and is healthier than McGee and couldn’t be a downgrade compared to Aaron Williams. Whether or not Florence’s release was directly motivated by his cap hit is anyone’s guess. It probably wouldn’t be a bad bet, however.

That isn’t to say that their choices this year were done to cut corners. Obviously their free agent signings prove to the opposite. Earlier in the year they worked out players you and I have actually heard of – Donte Stallworth being a prime example. Clearly they were still searching for the best players on the market during the year (not to say Stallworth is an accurate barometer of talent). However optimistic their intentions, it would seem as if many of their depth choices have been foolish.

If that trend continues, the need for change in the front office might just be necessary.

 

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