4 Bills on roster bubble entering minicamp

Battles at the bottom of the roster could leave these tenured Buffalo Bills without a spot come the start of the 2024 NFL season.
Nov 26, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Buffalo Bills punter Sam Martin (8) against the
Nov 26, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Buffalo Bills punter Sam Martin (8) against the / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills’ offseason workouts are well underway; offseason training began in mid-April, with various OTA sessions set to occur throughout May before mandatory minicamp kicks off on June 11.

Minicamp serves as the informal start of a new football season, with training camp and the preseason commencing shortly thereafter. It’s throughout these summer workouts and events that roster spots will be earned; though the Buffalo Bills’ roster saw significant turnover in the 2024 offseason, the vast majority of starting jobs across the team appear to be etched in stone. That said, there are a few intriguing battles at the bottom of the roster that could leave players who were with the Bills last season without a job come late August.

Here are four Buffalo players who find themselves on the roster bubble as minicamp grows closer.

DE Kingsley Jonathan

Oct 1, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Kingsley Jonathan (59) tries
Oct 1, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Kingsley Jonathan (59) tries / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Kingsley Jonathan is a player the Buffalo brass once held a fair bit of optimism for; unselected out of Syracuse in the 2022 NFL Draft, the pass-rusher signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent, splashing in the preseason only to barely miss out on what was a then-stacked Buffalo roster. The team attempted to sneak Jonathan onto the practice squad, but he was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Bears; he ultimately did sign with the Bills’ practice squad after being waived by Chicago that November.

Never one to make the same mistake twice, Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane kept Jonathan on the active roster for the 2023 season. The 25-year-old logged snaps in 12 regular season games, primarily playing on special teams while tallying four tackles on defense. He complemented this with three run stops, per PFF.

Promise aside, Jonathan—now 26—has reached an age where potential is less valuable than production; he, granted, hasn’t been afforded many opportunities to succeed, but he hasn’t necessarily flashed in live-game reps, either. The Bills added significant depth to their defensive end group in the offseason, signing veteran Dawuane Smoot and intriguing young-ish pass rusher Casey Toohill while also drafting pass-rush specialist Javon Solomon in the fifth round. The additions firmly leave Jonathan as the seventh defensive end in the pecking order—he has a lot of ground to make up throughout the summer.

Related: Bills' 2022 Sixth-Round Draft Pick tabbed team's 'most underrated player'


P Sam Martin

Bills punter and ball holder Sam Martin slowly walks off the field as after Tyler Bass  s kick went
Bills punter and ball holder Sam Martin slowly walks off the field as after Tyler Bass s kick went / Tina MacIntyre-Yee /Rochester Democrat

Sam Martin hasn’t necessarily been bad throughout his two seasons in Buffalo, netting an average of 42.2 and 39.9 yards in the 2022 and 2023 seasons, respectively. His 2023 average was subpar when compared to punters around the league, however, and his 24 punts downed within the 20-yard line didn’t even rank within the top 20 of punters.

This isn’t necessarily an indictment on Martin’s ability—given the proficiency of the Bills’ offense, he had significantly fewer opportunities to punt compared to his peers (51). That said, the 34-year-old isn’t getting any younger; he also suffered a hamstring injury during Buffalo’s Wild-Card Round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, an ailment that visibly bothered him in the team’s Divisional Round loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. That particular injury likely won’t be an issue come minicamp and further summer workouts, but hamstring injuries tend to be pesky and can re-aggravate quite easily.

The Bills are at least open to the idea of parting ways with Martin, signing competition in the form of veteran Matt Haack and undrafted San Diego State punter Jack Browning. It’ll be a three-way punt-a-palooza throughout the summer, with both Haack and Browning serving as younger alternatives to the veteran Martin (though Haack was admittedly underwhelming in his previous stint in Buffalo). Martin may have a leg-up in the competition thanks to his tenure and contract; according to Over The Cap, he’s guaranteed $1.55 million this season.


S Damar Hamlin

Jan 21, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA;  Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) during the 2024
Jan 21, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) during the 2024 / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that Damar Hamlin is on an NFL roster is nothing short of a Hollywood-esque miracle; the 26-year-old made a full recovery after suffering cardiac arrest in Buffalo’s Week 17 contest with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2022 NFL campaign, appearing in five games for the Bills throughout the 2023 regular season.

It’s a truly inspiring and triumphant story, and Hamlin will forever be an icon in the Western New York community for his perseverance and ability to endure adversity.

From a pure football perspective, however, the safety has been usurped on the depth chart by former University at Buffalo defensive back Cam Lewis, who logged 177 defensive snaps for the Bills last season in addition to playing a significant role on special teams. Though stalwarts Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde departed in the offseason, Hamlin’s spot on the depth chart looks stagnant given the offseason additions of veteran Mike Edwards and rookie Cole Bishop. Hamlin was a game-day scratch throughout the majority of the 2023 season; if Buffalo opts to keep only four safeties on its 53-man roster, the former Pitt Panther is likely the odd man out.

Related: Bills projected to cut this fan-favorite player


LB Baylon Spector

Dec 31, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills linebacker Baylon Spector (54) leaves the
Dec 31, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills linebacker Baylon Spector (54) leaves the / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Baylon Spector has shown flashes of ability throughout his two preseasons as a professional, and the 2022 seventh-round pick has a legitimate path to the roster as a special teamer (he logged 140 special teams snaps in nine regular-season games last year, per PFF). He also hasn’t looked out of place when asked to step in defensively, and thus, Buffalo may think it has an intriguing developmental piece in the 25-year-old.

He may, however, fall victim to increased competition; the Bills signed veterans Nicholas Morrow and Deion Jones in the offseason, both of whom are competing for Spector’s snaps. The team also drafted Washington defender Edefuan Ulofoshio in the fifth round, indicating that Spector may no longer be the team’s fourth linebacker. There’s reason to believe that Spector has a leg up on his newly-added competition, but his ultimate security is anything but certain entering minicamp.


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Kyle Silagyi

KYLE SILAGYI