Skip to main content

'Potential PR Nightmare': Could Buffalo Bills Cut Damar Hamlin?

Damar Hamlin's removal from the opening day roster would no doubt be a "PR disaster," but could the Buffalo Bills be forced into such a scenario?

Many Buffalo Bills will appear on the shortlists for countless preseason awards but few might have a better case than safety Damar Hamlin.

Hamlin's story is now ingrained on even the most casual football fan, as the defender is making his way back from a scary on-field collapse during a canceled January game in Cincinnati. Having undergone life-saving treatment from doctors and the Bills' medical staff, Hamlin has paid things forward by raising awareness in CPR education since the incident all while planning a return to professional action.

If and when Hamlin takes the field this season, he'll no doubt be a rightful front-runner for the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year. But is it possible he could miss out on the opening day roster entirely?

Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News was asked about the possibility in a recent mailbag with fans. While almost every sign would point to Hamlin sticking around, Skurski admits it's not an ironclad certainty, even with, as questioner says a "potential PR nightmare" looming if he leaves.

"My opinion is Hamlin will want to be treated like any other player, meaning he’ll need to earn a spot on the 53-man roster the same way his teammates will," Skurski wrote. "Given what he went through last season, however, it would be foolish to think that might not have some impact on the Bills’ thinking.

"Hamlin’s story generated international attention, and the work he has done since then to encourage CPR training has been inspirational. Is that alone enough reason for the Bills to keep him on the roster? This might come across as cold and insensitive, but I don’t think it should be." 

The Bills' safety situation is very top-heavy, as former Los Angeles Rams project Taylor Rapp joins Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. Hamlin had established himself as a consistent prescience in the Bills' starting lineup but his competitive nature, long established before the incident, likely ensures he won't take anything for granted.

Skurski says, in the worst-case scenario, Buffalo could wind up placing on injured reserve at the start of the season. After all, Hamlin's health will be paramount as he attempts his inspirational, if not potentially dangerous, comeback.

"If the Bills don’t think Hamlin is physically ready at the start of the season, he could start the year on injured reserve with a designation to return," he said. "It’s safe to assume the Bills will do right by Hamlin, but I anticipate they will evaluate him solely as a football player, which is what I think he would want."

Time will tell if Hamlin's comeback begins on Aug. 12, when the Bills kick off their preseason against the Indianapolis Colts.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Thanks for reading our SI-powered coverage of your Buffalo Bills ... Bills Mafia!

You're a member of Bills Mafia hungry for more Buffalo coverage? Read here.