The Buffalo Bills have released fullback Dan Vitale after he failed a physical with the team, according to Chris Brown of the team website. The Bills put in a claim for Vitale and were awarded him on waivers after his release by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Vitale, 21, was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buccaneers. He played college ball at Northwestern, where he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors with the Wildcats in 2015.
Northwestern was known for developing all-around fullbacks that could be used in the passing game, and Vitale fit the bill with 102 receptions for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in three years with the team. Coming into the NFL, he was expected to take on a similar role as he is likely too small to be a dominant lead blocker in the league.
Fullback is an odd position in the NFL, as receiving ability becomes more of a priority and that’s likely why the Bills were interested in Vitale. He has that receiving ability, but with his failed physical, they had to part ways with the potential H-back.
The Bills lost tight end Chris Gragg for the season due to injury and Glenn Gronkowski was the only fullback on the roster.
It’s not known how Vitale failed his physical but if he’s not seriously injured and can pass a physical at some point this season, it’s likely he’ll be picked up by another team. His ability to run and catch is too great to be overlooked, even if he only lands on a practice squad.