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Bills Mailbag: Big-name cuts could still happen

You’ve got Bills questions/comments that you submit to me via Twitter, @viccarucci, and email, at, and I have answers.

Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

@mattgolden03 says: “53-man roster, who are the surprising cuts this year?”

I say: Each year always brings “surprising” cuts, at least to those of us observing rather than making the decisions.

But if you buy the premise that General Manager Doug Whaley has put forth that the Bills’ final roster will be difficult for rookies to make, there might not be a whole lot of shockers when the final cuts are made.

Still, I do think it would make sense to keep an eye on these possibilities, at least based on their name recognition:

• Fred Jackson. At 34, he is beyond the age when most running backs stop playing in the NFL. With LeSean McCoy and other younger reserve options – including fifth-round draft choice Karlos Williams – does it make sense to keep Jackson around as a third-down specialist, which figures to be the only place he’d make a significant contribution? And how do the numbers work out in the backfield if the team decides to keep two fullbacks, Jerome Felton and John Conner?

• EJ Manuel. If he doesn’t start at quarterback, he could very well be gone, either via trade or the waiver wire. Would he be a worthy backup? Maybe. But that presumes he would convince the coaches he is a better option in the No. 2 role than either Tyrod Taylor, a clear favorite of coach Rex Ryan, or a far more experienced veteran in Matt Cassel.

• Marquise Goodwin. The Bills might very well believe they have a better alternative as a returner and to provide the best third-receiver speed threat in newly-acquired Percy Harvin. If they choose to keep Chris Hogan to fill the dependable, move-the-chains, short-area slot role, that could push Goodwin, who was mostly injured last season, off the team.

• Richie Incognito. If he demonstrates that he can’t knock off the rust of more than a year away from football and/or he has not turned over a new leaf after the behavior that resulted in his suspension with the Miami Dolphins in 2013, he could be shown the door before the season begins.

• Harvin, if he isn’t all that Ryan and the other former Jets coaches that worked with him last season in New York thought he would be.

@Woodleyb9 says: “Wouldn’t this be a dominant offensive line: LT Seantrel Henderson, LG Cordy Glenn, C Eric Wood, RG John Miller, RT Cyrus Kouandjio? Fortified line?”

I say: Could be.

So far, the Bills’ coaches are spending most of the offseason workouts figuring out what sort of tackle combination they have with Henderson and Glenn, having them alternate sides.

The key to building that “fortified” line is Kouandjio showing that he was worth the second-round pick the Bills used on him last year. He worked as a starting tackle during this past week’s OTA sessions, and that was an encouraging development. He’s getting a fresh start with a new coaching staff that has one of the better line coaches in the league in Aaron Kromer, who is focusing on improving the techniques of Kouandjio as well as the rest of the linemen.

If Kouandjio can click at right tackle, that would give the Bills the freedom to move Glenn inside, where multiple NFL player-personnel people and coaches have told me is his more natural position.

Of course, Henderson would still have to demonstrate that he can make the transition from right to left tackle and perform at a consistently high level, Miller would have to prove that he would be more reliable at right guard than Incognito, and Wood would have to show that last year’s struggles were an aberration.

@HeyWNY says: “Is bulking up (2 FBs, big tight ends, DE Alex Carrington) the way to go in today’s NFL or is Rex stuck in the past? Speed kills?”

I say: Speed does kill, but great quarterbacking kills more.

And when you don’t have a great quarterback, you need to come up with a viable alternative, which is strong defense and offensive power.

Fullbacks and big tight ends provide the sort of muscle that the Bills intend to use to control the football while their presumably well rested defense controls the game.

It doesn’t mean that Ryan is stuck in the past. It means that he and the rest of the Bills’ decision-makers are buying whatever time they can until they are able to land a franchise quarterback, the most critical ingredient to a championship team.

There is no telling when, or even if, that is going to happen on his watch. But it had better happen at some point in the not-so-very-distant future, or, as he discovered at the end of his six-year run with the Jets, the Bills will become someone else’s team.

@lophus89 says: “Seems like Whaley is always looking to make a move. Do you see a spot where he would look to make a trade by September?”

I say: The only one that would make sense is quarterback, simply because of the great uncertainty that exists among the four they have on the roster.

But I don’t see anyone becoming available that would make the Bills appreciably better at the position.

Otherwise, I think they are going to go to training camp with the team they have.


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