It was apparent the selection of two cornerbacks in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft last weekend was going to be bad news for somebody on the Bills' roster of defensive backs.
That player is Drayton Florence, who was released today, the team announced. The Bills took South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore with the 10th overall pick in the draft, then selected Louisiana State's Ron Brooks in the fourth round.
"I want to thank Drayton for all he’s done for our team during his three years in Buffalo," said Bills General Manager Buddy Nix in a statement. "But we have some good, young talent at the cornerback position that has tremendous upside. They need to take as many of the reps at practice as they can to continue to develop that talent. Our defense has gone through a number of changes since the end of last season and we feel that it’s necessary to give these young corners the opportunity to be in the lineup."
Florence played about 97 percent of the defensive snaps last season. He started all 16 games each of the last two seasons. He had three interceptions each of the last two years. One of them was one of the highlight plays of the year last season, a pickoff of Tom Brady that he returned 27 yards for a touchdown to give Buffalo a 31-24 lead over New England. Buffalo won the game, 34-31.
However, Florence also was part of a secondary that ranked 19th in passing yards allowed and 25th in passing yards-per-attempt allowed. Florence will turn 32 in December. He was Buffalo's second lowest-rated cornerback in terms of pass coverage by Profootballfocus.com. Florence struggled in particular in the games at the Giants and at Dallas. He had three pass interference penalties and gave up a 60-yard completion against the Giants. The Bills' cornerbacks also were hindered by one of the worst pass rushes in the league. Florence has started 96 of 136 games in his career. He held a leadership role among Bills defensive backs in terms of his work habits and professionalism. He also brought a feisty attitude on the field to the secondary.
Florence had two years left on a contract that he re-negotiated in July. His release saves the Bills $4 million in base salary he was due to make.
Florence had this reaction on Twitter: "Business is Business no feelings move on and continue to grind Thanks for all the support"
(Photo: Drayton Florence celebrates his fourth-quarter interception, returned for a touchdown, that gave the Bills a 31-24 lead en route to a win over New England last season. John Hickey / Buffalo News)