The Bills’ roster purge has begun.
A source confirmed wide receiver Dezmin Lewis and offensive lineman Greg Pyke have been released. Cornerback Bradley Sylve reportedly was cut as well.
NFL teams have until 4 p.m. Saturday to slash their rosters from about 90 players to 53, but the Bills front office began the process a day early. But while other NFL teams made headlines by releasing (See: former Browns quarterback Brock Osweiler) or trading (See: former Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson) their big-name players, Friday was a relatively quiet day inside the Bills’ building.
There were no blockbuster trades or eyebrow-raising moves to speak of. Mainly because those franchise-altering moves already had been made by General Manager Brandon Beane, who dealt star receiver Sammy Watkins, cornerback Ronald Darby and defensive end Reggie Ragland over the past three weeks.
Management was quick to quash trade rumors involving running LeSean McCoy, but questions about Marcell Dareus’ long-term future still linger. For now, though, the underperforming defensive tackle remains on the roster.
The Bills released six players on Tuesday: safety Bacarri Rambo, wide receiver Rashad Ross, guard Karim Barton, defensive end Jake Metz, running back Cedric O’Neal and cornerback Jamal Rolle. Two more players, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson and wide receiver Walter Powell, will open the season on the reserve/suspended list.
Asked Thursday if the organization planned to go right up to the deadline before making their final cut decisions, Bills head coach Sean McDermott stressed the importance of making the right decision, not the quick one.
“We’ll see,” he said after the team’s 27-17 preseason win over the Detroit Lions. Brandon and I have some long conversations to be had at this point and that’s what these players deserve, too.
“They’ve given us everything. They’ve put it on the line, they’ve given us great effort, and to walk into that office and say ‘Hey, let’s just do…’— no. These guys played hard and they deserve for us to give it it’s due at this point.”
Clearly, some decisions were easier than others.
The wide receiver corps is comprised mostly of young talent eager to make a name for themselves. But it also was one of the most crowded position groups. Lewis scored the lone Bills’ touchdown — a 1-yard pass from rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter — in their 17-10 preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Bills signed Pyke as an undrafted free agent earlier this year, but the former Georgia linemen couldn’t break out from the bottom of the depth chart.
Sylve, who tore an Achilles tendon the day before he was set to participate in Alabama’s Pro Day in 2016, signed with the Bills in April. But with so many defensive backs fighting for a spot, Sylve wound up being another odd-man out.