BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — An influx of youth in the NFL draft and an expensive contract combined to make veteran cornerback Drayton Florence the odd man out with the Buffalo Bills.
Florence was released by the team on Friday in what was regarded as a mild surprise after Buffalo spent much of the offseason improving what has been a porous defense. Florence is a nine-year NFL veteran, who had 45 starts in 46 games during a three-year stint with the Bills.
He had two years left on his contract and was scheduled to make a base salary of $4 million this season.
Florence took the news in stride in a message posted on his Twitter account. He wrote "Business is business," adding that he's moving on and thanked his fans for their support.
The move came a week after the Bills opened the draft by selecting South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore with the 10th pick. Gilmore is expected to step in and immediately compete for a starting job.
Buffalo already has plenty of experience in its defensive secondary with returning veterans Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin, as well as Aaron Williams, a former second-round pick, who had six starts in nine games as a rookie last season.
The Bills also drafted LSU cornerback Ron Brooks in the fourth round last weekend.
General manager Buddy Nix said the decision to release Florence was made to allow other players to develop.
"Our defense has gone through a number of changes since the end of the season, and we feel that it's necessary to give these young corners an opportunity to be in the lineup," Nix said in a statement issued by the team.
The Bills gave up a franchise worst 5,938 yards offense and ranked 30th in the NFL in allowing 434 points. Aside from drafting Gilmore, the Bills made a big splash in shoring up their defense by signing free agent defensive end Mario Williams to a six-year, $100 million contract in March.
Florence had seven of his 17 career interceptions with Buffalo. He spent his first five NFL seasons with San Diego, followed by a year in Jacksonville before signing with the Bills in 2009.