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Top 10 things to know about the Bills initial 2021 53-man roster

Reggie Gilliam (41) touchdown celebration with Mitchell Trubisky (10), Tommy Doyle (72), Spencer Brown (79). Buffalo Bills vs Chicago Bears, Preseason Week 2, August 21, 2021 at Soldier Field. Photo by Bill Wippert
Reggie Gilliam (41) touchdown celebration with Mitchell Trubisky (10), Tommy Doyle (72), Spencer Brown (79). Buffalo Bills vs Chicago Bears, Preseason Week 2, August 21, 2021 at Soldier Field. Photo by Bill Wippert

1. Buffalo goes heavy at receiver

The Bills offensive identity is expected to remain the same in 2021, one that's rooted in a wide open and multiple passing attack. That was reflected in Buffalo's roster decisions at the receiver position.

A year after keeping six wide receivers on their active roster, the Bills kept seven.

Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders and Gabriel Davis were widely considered to be locks for the roster. Isaiah McKenzie, Jake Kumerow and rookie Marquez Stevenson all had solid preseasons to earn the final three spots.

McKenzie, Kumerow and Stevenson all offer special teams abilities, with McKenzie and Stevenson both flashing in the return game this preseason. Kumerow offers kick and punt coverage abilities.

Seven NFL clubs carried seven receivers on their active roster last year. In 2020, the Bills were one of 16 teams that carried six wideouts.

Efe Obada (93) Buffalo Bills vs Chicago Bears, Preseason Week 2, August 21, 2021 at Soldier Field.
 Photo by Bill Wippert

2. Pass rush at a premium

The Bills made their pass rush a major priority in the offseason, and it was again reflected in their choices for their 53-man roster. Buffalo kept six defensive ends on their squad, including their top two draft choices in Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham.

They additionally kept free agent signee Efe Obada to go with their 2020 core of Mario Addison, Jerry Hughes and A.J. Epenesa.

Buffalo's defensive line carried the most players on the entire roster with 11 total, six defensive ends and five defensive tackles.

The Buffalo Bills' 53-man roster for the 2021 season is here. Scroll through to learn about the players on this year's team.

3. Just two QBs

Just like last year the Bills are carrying just a pair of quarterbacks on the active roster with Josh Allen and Mitchell Trubisky filling the starting and backup roles.

Allen started all 16 games last season for the Bills, though he did come out early in the team's regular season finale against Miami.

Last year, Davis Webb and Jake Fromm were both on the practice squad, and that could be the case again this season with the expanded 16-player practice squad returning again this year.

4. Bills go five deep at RB, light at TE

Although the roster could be subject to some adjusting, the Bills initial 53-man squad is carrying five running backs counting FB Reggie Gilliam.

Buffalo kept free agent signee Matt Breida, draft choices Zack Moss and Devin Singletary, special teams veteran Taiwan Jones and Gilliam a second-year undrafted player.

One of Buffalo's main edicts this past offseason was to run the ball more effectively in 2021. They now have a diverse stable of backs and a fullback to do so.

In going heavier at running back, and receiver for that matter, the coaching staff chose to go lighter at tight end to accommodate those two positions with greater numbers.

The Bills carried only two true tight ends on the 53-man roster in Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney. Gilliam could double as a tight end as he has played the position previously, but this position also may see some roster shuffling in the days to come.


5. Six members of draft class make the roster

Buffalo's 2021 draft class had an uphill battle to prove they belonged on the active roster. While Greg Rousseau, Boogie Basham and Spencer Brown had strong camps and were expected to make the squad, the situation was more up in the air for day three draft choices like Tommy Doyle, Marquez Stevenson and Damar Hamlin.

But all three made the 53-man roster on Tuesday.

The only draft choices who did not make the squad were sixth-round pick Rachad Wildgoose and seventh-round pick Jack Anderson. Both are expected to be strong candidates for the team's practice squad.

6. Long snapper situation

The Bills did not count veteran long snapper Reid Ferguson among their initial 53 players. He also did not play in the team's preseason finale last weekend against Green Bay.

Much like last year when a couple of veteran players did not appear on the first 53-man roster, they were added back to the roster after other designations were made days later. It's anticipated Ferguson will be handled in a similar fashion as the week moves along.

Ferguson is the second-longest tenured player on the roster next to Jerry Hughes.

7. Cam Newton released by Patriots

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Cam Newton would be his starting quarterback until someone outperformed him. By most accounts Patriots rookie QB Mac Jones did just that. Belichick named Jones the team's starting quarterback and released the veteran Newton.

Newton in an Instagram post said he appreciated the support, but would be fine.

8. Josh Allen now oldest starting QB in AFC East

With Mac Jones assuming the starting role in New England, Josh Allen is now the oldest starting quarterback in the division at 25 years of age.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN's Adam Schefter, the AFC East is the first division since the AFC Central in 1973 to have all four starting quarterbacks in Week 1 to be 25 years of age or younger. Those QBs were Ken Anderson, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Pastorini and Mike Phipps.

9. Jets trade TE Chris Herndon

The Jets chose to move on from their former fourth-round pick (2018) sending Herndon to the Minnesota Vikings, who were looking to replace TE Irv Smith Jr. who they recently lost for an undetermined amount of time with a knee injury.

Herndon's most productive season came in his rookie season when he pulled in 39 receptions for just over 500 yards and four touchdowns.

New York acquired a 2022 fourth-round pick from Minnesota in exchange for Herndon, who is entering his fourth NFL season, and a sixth-round pick next spring.

It leaves the Jets with Ryan Griffin and former Bill Tyler Kroft as the top two tight ends on New York's roster.

10. John Brown released by Raiders

Former Bill and veteran receiver John Brown was released by the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday. According to reports Brown asked the club for his release after he was not getting any reps with the first team offense.

The Raiders granted his request.

After spending two seasons with the Bills, John Brown was a salary cap casualty of the club this past offseason.

The 31-year old could get some interest around the league as a free agent.

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