Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Bills, Dolphins, Jets and Patriots moves are noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s AFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.
As Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic points out, cutting Lewis came as a bit of a surprise considering the Bills’ lack of depth at cornerback. However, the reporter believes that today’s move is an indication that the team isn’t concerned about injuries to Levi Wallace, Dane Jackson and Taron Johnson. Lewis, a 2019 undrafted free agent, finished last season with seven tackles in five games (two starts). If he passes through waivers, he’ll likely end up on Buffalo’s practice squad.
The Bills signed Roberts to a two-year deal in 2019, doing so after he earned All-Pro recognition for his kick-return work on the 2018 Jets. Roberts has 10 years’ experience and two Pro Bowls on his resume. The second of those two Pro Bowl nods came last season with the Bills. Buffalo enters the season with its best chance to win the AFC East in maybe 20 years, so cutting an accomplished player is certainly surprising.
Foster made a splash as a rookie in 2018, but the Bills have overhauled their receiver group since. John Brown and Cole Beasley led the way last year, and the team traded for Stefon Diggs and drafted two wideouts — fourth-rounder Gabriel Davis and sixth-rounder Isaiah Hodgins — this year. Foster will nonetheless be an interest name on waivers.
Buffalo traded for Andre Smith earlier this week. The third-year linebacker could well be brought back on the team’s 16-player practice squad. Teams can begin assembling their P-squads Sunday.
The Bills released wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes, according to a team press release. The release of Benjamin is particularly shocking given his resume.
Benjamin came to the Bills in a blockbuster trade deadline deal last year. Since then, Benjamin has logged just 40 catches in 19 games, including the team’s low-scoring playoff loss to the Jaguars.
Because this year’s trade deadline is in the rear view mirror, both Benjamin and Holmes will be subject to waivers, even though they are both vested veterans. Benjamin is likely to find a new home whether he’s claimed or not, and that will mark his third team in 13 months.
Any team claiming Benjamin off waivers would be responsible for the remaining prorated portion of his base salary, which comes out to a little under $2MM. It’s a high price to pay, but Benjamin could make for an interesting rental since he is due for unrestricted free agency in March. Of course, if he is not claimed, the Bills will be on the hook for that cash.
There was no weird behind the scenes incident to prompt the release of either player, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Rather, the Bills simply wanted to get younger and audition players who factor into their plans for 2019 and beyond.
Benjamin, 27, has just 23 catches for 354 yards and one touchdown in 12 games this season, numbers that are a far cry from his best seasons with the Panthers. His conditioning has been questioned by many, his route running errors been glaring, and he no longer appears to be on the path to superstardom. A change of scenery may help Benjamin, but he’ll have to really explode down the stretch in order to position himself for a lucrative free agent deal.
Holmes, 30, was barely involved in the offense for Buffalo. In his 12 games, Holmes had just 12 grabs for 157 yards and zero scores.
In related moves, the Bills also promoted defensive end Mike Love and cornerback Denzel Rice to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.