Bills Cut OL to Make Room for Former Raiders Starting LB

Marquel Lee

Getty Marquel Lee celebrates a win with the Oakland Raiders in 2018.

The Buffalo Bills are making more cuts to the offensive line.

After the team’s first round of training camp cuts focused heavily on the line, the team parted ways with another lineman, this time to make room for a former Las Vegas Raiders linebacker who has been out on the COVID-19 reserve list.

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Bills Cut Former Penn State Lineman

The Bills parted ways with offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez this week, cutting him in order to active linebacker Marquel Lee off of the COVID-19 reserve list. As the Buffalo News noted, Gonzalez had signed with the Bills back in May. He went undrafted last year and signed as a rookie free agent with the Arizona Cardinals, but didn’t make the final roster and spent the year out of football.

The Bills have already trimmed down the offensive line, with the first round of cuts focusing heavily on linemen. As the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported, the Bills were the league’s first team to trim their roster down to 85, doing so days before the deadline last week. The first cuts included guard Caleb Benenoch, who had made 22 starts for the Buccaneers after being drafted in 2016 but didn’t see any action last year as a member of the New England Patriots practice squad. Buffalo also cut linemen Marquell Harrell and Syrus Tuitele along with defensive tackle Eli Ankou and linebacker Mike Bell.

Lee Returns to Bills Roster

Prior to being activated this week, Lee had been on the reserve list since August 10. He did not play in the 2020 season, but had been a contributor for the Raiders in the three previous seasons, making 104 tackles in 34 games. His most productive year came in 2018, when he started 10 games and made 58 tackles.

As Ryan Talbot of noted, Lee has suffered through a string of injuries that ultimately ended his time with the Raiders.

“In 2019, Lee was placed on the injured reserve early in the year with an ankle injury,” Parrino wrote. “After he returned to the roster late in the season, a toe injury placed him back on the IR and ended his season. Last year, Lee was unable to pass a physical with the Raiders and was released by the team. The linebacker did not play anywhere last season.”

Lee is not the only Bills player to spend time on the reserve list. Starting offensive lineman Dion Dawkins just returned to the team after a long bout with COVID-19, which included time spent in the hospital. Dawkins said afterward that it was one of the most difficult challenges of his life.

“Honestly, it was one of the lowest points that I have ever been,” he said. “It hit every part of me. … Honestly, if there’s a checklist for [symptoms], it was everything. It was shortness of breath, it was the hot and cold, it was the cough, it was everything. … I don’t want to scare anybody, but there were moments where I was like ‘I don’t know if I’m going to make [it].’”

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