Bills Ready To Promote Hardy.. Who Gets Cut?

Posted on November 10, 2009 by Patrick Moran

After missing nearly ten months of football, 2008 second round draft pick James Hardy officially returns to the Buffalo Bills this week. Barring a last minute setback at practice over the next few days, Hardy will be taken off the PUP list and added to the active 53-man roster.

The Bills have a lot invested in Hardy, including the high draft selection last year. They are eager to find out what they have in the former Indiana University star, as his rookie season last year is hardly enough to evaluate his future.

With Josh Reed and Terrell Owens both scheduled to become free agents after the year, the Bills will get him as much work as he can handle, which will help them evaluate what they’ll do at the position over the winter. Hardy caught 9 passes for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns last year before tearing up his right knee.

To make room for Hardy the team will have to cut a player from the roster. Here are the four prime candidates to get their pink slip.

Roscoe Parrish: We reported a few weeks ago near the trade deadline that the Bills were going to try trade Parrish and if unsuccessful he’d be released. Turns out we were at least partially wrong. The team couldn’t find a taker for Parrish in the trade market, but they still didn’t release him. Instead, he’s been benched for three consecutive weeks, though technically he’s been listed as the emergency quarterback the past two games.

There’s still a chance Parrish could be a goner in the next few days. Keep Parrish once Hardy is placed active would mean the Bills would be carrying seven wide receivers. He’s not going to see the field on offense this season barring a slew of injuries if he’s retained. Stevie Johnson and even Justin Jenkins is ahead of him on the depth chart. Keeping Parrish almost certainly results in him being inactive for the rest of the year barring an injury to running back/kick returner Fred Jackson.

Still, if the Bills haven’t released him by now they may not at all. Cutting him wouldn’t save the team much money at this point compared to a month ago. They could retain him strictly as insurance to a Jackson injury. Game-changing mistake against Cleveland aside, Parrish is still one of the most dangerous punt returners in the game. At this point, I’d be mildly surprised if the Bills didn’t just hold onto him for the remainder of the season before cutting him loose over the winter.

Todd Johnson: He was signed as a free agent after Donte Whitner and Byron Scott both went down with major ankle injuries. He’s played in two games, mainly special teams and has recorded four tackles.

With both starting safeties back practicing and due back in the lineup this week, Johnson assumes the favorite role to get sent packing. Jairus Byrd and George Wilson gives the team four safeties and John Wendling is a standout on special teams.

Would the team really keep six safeties for the second half of the season? To do so, it would demonstrate how little the organization feels about Parrish at this time. His one saving grace could be the Bills lack of confidence that Whitner or Scott won’t miss more time and force them to find another safety should Johnson get picked up elsewhere.

Ellis Lankster: It’s conceivable the Bills could expose the rookie to waivers in hopes no team would pick him up and then put him on the practice squad for the rest of 2009.

It would be a tremendous risk. Although Lankster has hardly played, teams are always on the look out for cornerbacks in this league and the chance someone would scoop him up is high.

I don’t see this scenario happen.

Justin Jenkins: The biggest chance of him departing stems from the same as Parrish. Keeping Jenkins and Parrish would result in the Bills using seven receiver spots on the 53-man roster, seemingly not a high probability.

But Jenkins, who was briefly cut early in the season and has fought for his job every year if not every week, is not likely to move. If the Bills have soured on Parrish returning kicks, I can’t see them getting rid of Jenkins first when he brings value to the special teams kick coverage.

At the end of the day, I think Johnson will get waived.  Having said that,  no decision this team makes would be deemed surprising.

What do you think?

2 Comments on Bills Ready To Promote Hardy.. Who Gets Cut?

  1. Jeremy Pike

    Good article. Considering that the Bills have suffered through a rash of injuries at the safety position, Jauron wouldn’t cut Johnson. He loves DBs, and if both Whitner and Scott have been injured already, he’s got to be wary of that. I think it’s likely to be Parrish because of the numbers game at WR and he hasn’t been returning punts, which is his strength.

  2. Web Rumblings: Buffalo Bills Links, 11/11 | Buffalo Bills Blog

    [...] Bills Ready To Promote Hardy.. Who Gets Cut? : Buffalo Sports DailyAfter missing nearly ten months of football, 2008 second round draft pick James Hardy officially returns to the Buffalo Bills this week. Pat Moran looks at who is likely to get cut to make room. [...]

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