1 – Bills welcome 18 newcomers to final roster
Ahead of the start of the 2018 season, the Bills have trimmed their roster down to the NFL mandated regular season size. Some players are returning after playing large roles in Buffalo’s journey to the playoffs in 2017, but a bevy of new players and rookies will also join the fray as the Bills attempt to repeat a playoff trip this year.
In 2018, Buffalo welcomed 18 players who were not on the team’s roster for Buffalo’s playoff game in Jacksonville – including free agent acquisitions Trent Murphy, Star Lotulelei, Russell Bodine and Julian Stanford in addition to Robert Foster, Marshall Newhouse, Wyatt Teller, Josh Allen, Chris Ivory, Jeremy Kerley, Ray Ray McCloud, Harrison Phillips, Tremaine Edmunds, Phillip Gaines, Vontae Davis, Taron Johnson, Rafael Bush and Siran Neal. Seven of the team’s eight rookies selected by the Bills in the 2018 NFL Draft made the final cut. Thirty-one players return from team who faced Jacksonville last January – including veteran leaders Kyle Williams, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, and Kelvin Benjamin. Veterans Taiwan Jones and Andre Holmes were with Buffalo last season but on the injured reserve list for the playoff game. Jason Croom was on the team’s practice squad.
Among the biggest surprises from training camp to make the final roster is undrafted free agent wide receiver Robert Foster. Foster joined the Bills after not being selected in this year’s draft following an up and down career at Alabama.
2 – Waiver process and practice squad signings starts later today
As NFL rosters have been trimmed down to a maximum of 53 players per team, over 1,000 players are now looking for work. Unfortunately, due to the roster limitations, players must first pass through waivers before becoming unrestricted free agents. On Thursday night, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said that the team will assess the roster now that their cuts have been made, but there is a process to claim waived players.
The waiver claim deadline is at noon today and after that point waived players become unrestricted free agents. Teams may place claims on any player on the waiver wire, but claims are awarded to teams in the reverse order of the 2017 standings. For example, the Bills are 21st on the waiver claim list after making the playoffs last season, and the Cleveland Browns are first.
The Bills will undoubtedly do their due diligence on every player that comes across the waiver wire, and fans may see some roster shuffling in the coming days. Beginning at 1 pm today, teams can begin filling out their practice squads, and they can place a maximum of 10 players on the squad.
3 – Hauschka looking to repeat 2017 success
Although the uncertainty of a new season can be daunting for team executives, coaches, players, and fans alike; Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka provides a sense of stability at a position which stability is hard to find. In his first season with the Bills, Hauschka converted 29 of 33 field goal attempts for a hit percentage of 87.9.
Led by Buffalo’s Hauschka and Lions kicker Matt Prater, 2017 was a record-setting season for NFL placekickers. 107 field goals of at least 50 yards were converted in 2017, the most in a single season in NFL history, and both Hauschka and Prater made four field goals of at least 55 yards, tied for the most in a single season in NFL history.
Although consistency is something that Hauschka displayed in 2017, he showed more than just consistency. Hauschka also converted an NFL-record 13 consecutive field goals of 50 yards or longer. With a record-breaking performance in his first season with the Bills, Bills fans can expect Hauschka to play a pivotal role in 2018.