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Trade up for Graham goes bust

Trade up for Graham goes bust T.J. Graham, once coveted for his speed, was deemed expendable. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)


Two years ago, the Buffalo Bills traded up to draft receiver T.J. Graham.

Saturday, they waived him.

Graham was the most notable roster move the Bills made to reduce their roster to 53 players by the 4 p.m. deadline.

Buffalo’s other cuts were quarterback Jeff Tuel, receiver Caleb Holley, offensive linemen Doug Legursky and Antoine McClain, defensive ends Ike Igbinosun and Bryan Johnson, linebacker Jimmy Gaines and defensive backs Kenny Ladler and Deon Broomfield.

The club also announced the additions of quarterback Kyle Orton, as The Buffalo News reported Friday night, and punter Colton Schmidt.

Buffalo’s decision to cut Tuel leaves only two quarterbacks on the active roster and gives Orton less than a week to learn the offense before the Sept. 7 season opener against the Chicago Bears.

Graham was drafted 69th overall because of his blazing speed. He was the 15th receiver off the board in a draft class that featured a few busts. The New York Jets released second-round pick Stephen Hill today.

But Graham will be known as a luxury item for a team that needed so much more core work. Six slots after the Bills took him, the Seattle Seahawks drafted quarterback Russell Wilson. Later in the third round, the Philadelphia Eagles selected quarterback Nick Foles.

Three slots after the Bills took Graham, the Miami Dolphins selected defensive end Olivier Vernon, who recorded 11.5 sacks last season.

Graham started 11 games his rookie season under previous coach Chan Gailey and caught 31 passes for 322 yards and a touchdown.

Graham’s involvement waned last year with new coach Doug Marrone. The Bills drafted another speedster, Marquise Goodwin, and Graham started only six games. He had 23 receptions for 361 yards and two touchdowns.

This preseason, Graham had five catches for 66 yards. He averaged 23.4 yards on five kickoff returns and 7.0 yards on a team-high 11 punt returns.

Tuel became the fourth quarterback the Bills cut in the past week, joining Dennis Dixon, Thad Lewis and Jordan Palmer.

Buffalo can re-sign Tuel to its practice squad today if no other team adds him.

Tuel wasn’t drafted last year but started a game when EJ Manuel and Lewis were hurt. In two appearances, Tuel went 26 of 59 for 309 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions.

He played in four of the Bills’ five preseason games, going 29 of 45 for 236 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

Legursky was the only veteran with a significant resume. The sixth-year pro was on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad when they won their last Super Bowl and started at center for them when they returned to the Super Bowl in 2010.

Legursky started 11 games for the Bills last year at left guard.

Schmidt will get the first chance to replace longtime punter and captain Brian Moorman, whom the Bills cut Friday.

Schmidt spent the summer with the San Francisco 49ers but didn’t have much chance to supplant Andy Lee, an All-Pro twice in the past three years. Schmidt grossed 47.5 yards and netted 46.1 yards per punt in three preseason games.


  • Paul Kawalerski

    Graham was a 3rd Rd pick and has been serviceable, but that's about it. Given the talent at WR we have right now, it's not surprising he's gone.

    • Sweet Pea

      I totally Agree! Graham would of been nice to keep with his speed but it does No! good if you can not catch the ball and I think our receiving core is very deep and good, like you said if we get them the ball I know they will make things happen.

  • Otis

    This town isn't big enough for 2 Grahams anyways.

  • Susie Roaldi

    I will never forgive them for not drafting Wilson!

    • Sand Ripper

      And how successful do you think he would have been in Buffalo? Seattle already had a lot of good pieces in place when Wilson got there.

      • Susie Roaldi

        Very. This kids maturity, skills, drive, and desire alone made him the right choice. We also had a lot of parts in place. Coaching is important also. Nix knew he blew it. We should draft a QB a year until we get it right. We blew it with Lynch. lewisG we blew it with Lynch. We should have ran him like a work horse 25 times a gam e, not traded him.

  • lewisG

    look at m lynch, w mcgahee, you don't get good until you leave for a good coach

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.