Texans Release Former Bills Pro Bowler After Just 6 Games

Andre Roberts

Getty Andre Roberts returns a kick in a game against the New England Patriots.

Andre Roberts had a strong two-year tenure with the Buffalo Bills, making the Pro Bowl both years and leading the league in kick return average his second season.

His follow-up gig didn’t go quite so smoothly.

The Houston Texans, who picked up Roberts this offseason after the Bills allowed him to hit free agency, released him this week after just six games. Roberts was in the midst of one of the least productive seasons of his 12-year career, leaving his future in the league in doubt.

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Texans Cut Roberts Loose

As the Brooks Kubena of the Houston Chronicle reported, the Texans released Roberts on October 18 following a 31-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Roberts was on track for the lowest punt return average (4.1 yards) and kickoff return average (21.4 yards) in his last 10 years in the league. As Kubena noted, the Texans had shown some uncharacteristic faith in Roberts, signing him to a two-year contract that is rare for a team more known for giving one-year deals.

But teams game-planned around Roberts to neutralize his return skills and force him into mistakes this season, Kubena noted.

“Opponents positioned punts that minimized Roberts’ opportunities to return them and, when he was able to field the punt, placed him in unfavorable situations,” he wrote. “Texans special teams coordinator Frank Ross said punters directed kicks toward the boundary, and, with a combined hangtime average of 4.16 seconds, pursuant defenders arrived in time to limit Roberts to minimal gains. Cleveland punter Jamie Gillan also intentionally punted a football low, which Roberts muffed in Week 2, a turnover that produced a Browns touchdown in a 31-21 loss.”

While it’s not clear what the 33-year-old Roberts does next, there has been some interest in his services in the past. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe noted that the New England Patriots had been interested in Roberts in the past, hinting that they could again.

Bills Move On

Going into the last offseason with few holes to fill, the Bills put a strong emphasis on keeping the AFC East champion team together as much as possible. Buffalo locked down a number of players headed to free agency, giving new deals to offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Daryl Williams and a four-year extension for linebacker Matt Milano. Roberts was one of the few players allowed to leave, with the Bills instead turning to speedy wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie to handle return duties.

McKenzie has performed well in both of his returning duties, averaging 7.5 yards per punt return and 27.1 yards per kick return this season. The Bills could eventually split some of those returning duties with rookie Marquez Stevenson, who returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in a preseason win over the Chicago Bears but went on injured reserve before the season started and has yet to return.

While it’s not clear when Stevenson could return, he has already earned the endorsement of Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who showered some praise on the rookie during the preseason.

“Impressed with what he did. Obviously, the big play with the return game and he did some good things again at receiver,” McDermott said, via ESPN. “Two games and he’s done some things that catch your eye.”

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