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McKelvin’s a cap casualty as Bills release cornerback

The Buffalo Bills continue to be in full demolition mode as they desperately look to clear space under their salary cap.

On Friday, they released cornerback Leodis McKelvin, making him the fifth player with whom they parted ways this week.

It was the latest in a series of moves the Bills have made in the last two weeks to create cap room in an effort to fulfill one of their highest offseason priorities: re-signing guard Richie Incognito.

Releasing McKelvin gives the Bills $3.9 million in cap relief. Combined with their other recent moves (pending details from Thursday’s restructuring of the contract of safety Corey Graham), the Bills have $13,123,214 in cap space with their top 51 players, according to the website

The other players the Bills released this week are defensive end Mario Williams, running back Boobie Dixon, and guard Kraig Urbik. The team also said goodbye to tight end MarQueis Gray, a restricted free agent who will not receive a contract tender offer.

The Bills had announced last week they were looking to restructure the contracts of McKelvin, who had said he was willing to take a pay cut, and Graham at the same time they had announced the restructuring of the deal for tight end Charles Clay. On Tuesday, the Bills placed a franchise tag on offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, meaning he’s assured of receiving at least a one-year contract worth $13.7 million.

McKelvin, 30, was a starter for most of his eight seasons with the Bills. But he became expendable after the team made Ronald Darby a second-round draft pick last year. Darby immediately took over as the starter opposite Stephon Gilmore, relegating McKelvin to backup duty.

McKelvin joined the Bills in 2008 as a first-round draft pick, 11th overall, from Troy (Ala.) University. He suffered a broken ankle that caused him to miss the final six games of the 2014 season, which he finished with a career-best four interceptions. A setback in his recovery caused him to sit out the preseason and first seven games of the 2015 season and opened the door for Darby to take over.

In 98 career NFL games, McKelvin has 13 interceptions for 114 yards in returns. He also had one touchdown return. He was credited with 64 passes defended, 268 tackles, and 49 assists. He also forced four fumbles and recovered six.

McKelvin’s exceptional speed made him a dangerous return man. He has averaged 26 yards on 95 kickoff returns, taking one for a touchdown, and averaged 10.3 yards on 99 punt returns, taking three for touchdowns.

Still, McKelvin has never been able to live down one of the more infamous plays in Bills history when he fumbled on a kickoff return after the New England Patriots pulled within five points on a Monday Night Football game in Foxborough, Mass., in 2009. Placekicker Stephen Gostkowski recovered at the Buffalo 31. Three plays later, Tom Brady found Benjamin Watson for a 16-yard touchdown with 50 seconds left to give New England a 25-24 victory.


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