After fortifying their defensive backfield with an influx of youth in the NFL draft, the Bills turned the page on their lineup in the secondary releasing veteran cornerback Drayton Florence Friday.
Florence was a three-year starter for the Bills from 2009-2011 appearing in 46 games for Buffalo over that span with 168 tackles and seven interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. His biggest play in his Bills career was easily his interception return for a score in Buffalo's Week 3 upset of the New England Patriots last season.
"I want to thank Drayton for all he's done for our team during his three years in Buffalo," said Bills GM Buddy Nix. "But we have some good, young talent at the cornerback position that has tremendous upside. They need to take as many of the reps at practice as they can to continue to develop that talent. Our defense has gone through a number of changes since the end of last season and we feel that it's necessary to give these young corners the opportunity to be in the lineup."
Nix is referring to Aaron Williams and first-round pick Stephon Gilmore. Both young players are expected to push for starting roles on both sides of Buffalo's defense as both cornerbacks offer tremendous size and physical play to the position.
Had Williams not suffered a severe shoulder injury that forced him to miss seven games as a rookie, he likely would have unseated one of the veteran starters at cornerback last year. Even so Williams made six starts in 2011.
A top 10 pick, Gilmore is expected to step into the starting lineup as well. Buffalo also has second-year cornerback Justin Rogers, who appeared in 13 games as a rookie with one start in the season finale last year, and this year's fourth-round pick Ron Brooks.
Veterans Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee are still on the roster, but McGee is still rehabbing from a torn patellar tendon injury suffered last season. Prince Miller was a practice squad cornerback in 2011 that is also on Buffalo's offseason roster, and the club agreed to terms with undrafted rookie CB Cris Hill earlier this week.