There is no room for sentimentality in the NFL.
That was illustrated by the Buffalo Bills' decision to release veteran safety and Buffalo native Corey Graham on Friday afternoon. Graham, 31, spent the past three seasons with his hometown team, starting every game the past two years. He played 1,055 of 1,074 defensive snaps this season, or 98 percent, but carried a fairly large salary-cap charge. By releasing him, the Bills will save $4.05 million against the 2017 cap, and avoid having to pay a $500,000 roster bonus that was due Monday.
Graham, who turns 32 in July, has been a remarkably durable player throughout his 10-year career. He missed three games as a rookie in 2007, but since then has played in all 16 games nine years in a row.
“I know how important it is here to get to the playoffs with the drought and everything like that,” Graham said as the Bills cleaned out their lockers following last year's 7-9 campaign. “When I signed here, that was my main focus, to get that over with and try to get us into the playoffs. We still haven’t accomplished that, so obviously I’ve still got some work to do. I’ve got one more year to try to do that.”
The Bills, however, have remade their secondary since Sean McDermott took over. Graham's counterpart at safety, Aaron Williams, was released Thursday, while top cornerback Stephon Gilmore signed as a free agent and slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman was cut last week.
The Bills signed a pair of safeties in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer on Thursday. They are atop the depth chart right now on a roster that remains very much in flux.