Buffalo Bills Who Will Be on the Roster Bubble in 2014

Rob Patterson@RJPatterson13Contributor IIIJanuary 9, 2014

Buffalo Bills Who Will Be on the Roster Bubble in 2014

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    Doug Marrone and Buffalo's front office have some decisions to make.
    Doug Marrone and Buffalo's front office have some decisions to make.Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    As eight teams remain in contention for the Lombardi Trophy, the other 24 teams have the task of assessing their rosters and preparing for the 2014-15 season. Although they showed marked improvement over the 2012 campaign, the 2013 version of the Buffalo Bills finished with an identical 6-10 record.

    To change that, head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley have a lot of personnel decisions to make.

    Key players such as Jairus Byrd and Scott Chandler are impending free agents. The two players were leaders on their respective sides of the ball and would leave a significant void if they skipped town.

    Meanwhile, the Bills have to consider offering contract extensions to the likes of C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Marcell Dareus and Aaron Williams. Each of these players represents not only the present, but also the future of the organization.

    On top of that, the Bills have to evaluate the lower ranks of their roster, including their practice squad and backups, to determine who deserves another chance in 2014. 

    Let's take a look at some of the players who may or may not be around for the upcoming 2014 season.

Stevie Johnson

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    After a tumultuous season, some fans are done with Stevie Johnson.
    After a tumultuous season, some fans are done with Stevie Johnson.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    After posting three straight seasons of at least 75 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and six touchdowns, Stevie Johnson laid an egg in 2013. 

    To be fair, Johnson was hobbled by injury and the death of his mother, playing only 12 games with what could only be described as inconsistent quarterback play. Still, his 52 receptions was a very disappointing result for the team's primary pass-catcher.

    Things got ugly for Johnson when he made a late fumble against the Atlanta Falcons, a play that helped seal Buffalo's fate outside of the playoff picture. This was just one of a few dramatic moments in Johnson's career as a Bill, and many fans have lost any patience for the 27-year-old wideout.

    For any fans who feel that way, I understand the frustration. Still, the Bills can't afford to release their best wide receiver when they have a young, developing quarterback.

    And as Doug Whaley said in his year-ending press conference, per the team's official website, "He's under contract, and we expect him to be here."

    Verdict: On the Team

Dan Carpenter

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    Dan Carpenter had himself a year in 2013.
    Dan Carpenter had himself a year in 2013.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    When the Bills signed Dan Carpenter to replace the injured Dustin Hopkins, they had to believe it was a one-year replacement at the time. However, Carpenter blew away everyone's expectations.

    For a guy who kicked in sunny Miami for five years, the 28-year-old had a career year in Orchard Park, nailing an impressive 91.7 percent of his kicks, including a perfect 19-of-19 under 40 yards.

    Though the Bills took Dustin Hopkins in the sixth round with the intention of replacing Rian Lindell, he may have a very tough time keeping his roster spot with Carpenter in town.

    Given how successful he was in 2013 and his relatively young age, I'd say it's a no-brainer that the Bills go with Carpenter for the foreseeable future.

    Verdict: On the Team

Jairus Byrd

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    Has Jairus Byrd played his last game as a Bill?
    Has Jairus Byrd played his last game as a Bill?Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    The biggest question mark going into the offseason for the Bills is the future of Jairus Byrd. The five-year veteran has spent his entire career with the Bills, accruing three Pro Bowl appearances and 22 interceptions.

    The ball-hawking free safety has firmly established himself among the NFL's elite, and this offseason, he will get paid like it—whether that is with the Bills or not.

    For me, the decision of what to do with Byrd is an easy one: Pay the man. Still, things are never that easy in the NFL. Last year, Byrd was given the franchise tag and later held out of training camp because of his discontent with the situation.

    According to Doug Whaley, per Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550, the Bills plan to make an offer to Byrd to retain his services because "[they] are in the business of collecting good players and he's a good player."

    Though that might lead one to think more positively of the situation than earlier in the year, I don't think the Bills are willing to pay Byrd like the top safety in all of football.

    Verdict: Gone in Free Agency

Scott Chandler

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    Scott Chandler had a solid year coming off of a serious injury.
    Scott Chandler had a solid year coming off of a serious injury.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    After a career year that included a team-leading 53 receptions for 655 yards, Scott Chandler is set to become a free agent. 

    In my opinion, Bills fans shouldn't worry about this situation. First and foremost, Chandler simply isn't one of the league's top tight ends. Though the 6'7" veteran posted some good numbers, he also remains one of the league's slowest players and prone to dropping the ball.

    For that reason, Chandler won't be out of Buffalo's price range. On top of that, the seven-year veteran seems to have found stability in Buffalo and rapport with EJ Manuel

    As he told Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com, "[he'd] like to be a part of the solution in a place like Buffalo where there have been a lot of hard times."

    Expect the Bills to feel the same way about Chandler and possibly add another more athletic tight end through the draft to complement him.

    Verdict: On the Team

Brian Moorman

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    Brian Moorman was inconsistent in 2013.
    Brian Moorman was inconsistent in 2013.Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    Though Brian Moorman had a net average of 36.6 yards on punts in 2013, that statistic appears to be misleading. With the way the special teams coordinator designed coverage, Moorman was asked to have a lot of hang time, not to flip the field.

    Even better was that opponents averaged a mere 7.6 yards per return when they were able to do so. 

    It's easy to say that the 37-year-old punter's best days are behind him—and one is probably correct in saying so—but don't be fooled by the yardage numbers on the stat sheet. Moorman still knows what he's doing.

    As always, Moorman is interested in remaining with the Bills, and they are interested in retaining his services. This one appears to be a pretty safe bet.

    Verdict: On the Team

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