And then there were six.
Sunday's release of running back Jonathan Williams has left the Buffalo Bills with just a half dozen players drafted by former General Manager Doug Whaley. Shaq Lawson and Adolphus Washington from the 2016 class, Nick O'Leary and John Miller from 2015 and Preston Brown and Sean Henderson from 2014 are the last remaining draft picks made by Whaley still on the Bills' roster.
Coach Sean McDermott said Monday the moves are about more than just creating a fresh Whaley start.
"It’s not so much bringing in our own guys. I’m not in that mode of thinking," he said. "It’s about the right guys. It’s about the right guys at the right time. That’s really what we’re interested in, is good people, good football players that are interested in the team-first mentality and embrace what this city’s all about.
"So in regards to that, there’s good football players that were brought on by Doug, and that’s what we’re interested in. Whether it was past regime, current regime, I’m not interested in that mode of thinking."
Presently, there are just 22 players on the Bills' 53-man roster who played in a game for the team in the 2016 season.
"I believe in the first year, when you look at it, you’re always going in and looking to make sure you get the right people on board, on the bus. And get people that are already on board in the right seats," McDermott said. "That’s a natural occurrence the first year at times. Some of those are tough, difficult decisions. Unpopular in some ways, and I recognize that. ... But it takes some of those decisions for us to get to where we’re trying to go."
The latest example of that was the team's decision to cut running back Jonathan Williams on Sunday. Reaction on social media from the team's fans ranged from puzzled to apoplectic.
"I think it happens … quite a bit out there where you come in and you say, ‘Let’s err on the side of not rocking the boat.’ Well, short-term gain sometimes doesn’t equal long-term success, so we want to make sure we’re doing both," McDermott said. "We always do that with the team-first mentality. That comes with the territory. Our team, we’ve been there. You guys have seen what we’ve gone through in preseason, in training camp. This team is ready to adapt. That’s an important characteristic in a good football team."
Part of that future planning might also involve making moves that could land the team a compensatory draft pick in 2018. As has been well documented, the Bills would have to cut wide receiver Andre Holmes, guard Vlad Ducasse and defensive end Ryan Davis to potentially land a third-round pick for the loss of cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Those three players survived the cut down to 53, but the Bills still have until Week 10 to let them go and have it count toward the compensatory formula.
"It’s something you always keep your eye on," McDermott said. "I mean obviously it’s a way that some teams are operating out there. It’s something we are certainly aware of. We’ll just see how that plays out … over the next couple of weeks."