CAPACCIO: Possible OL targets for the Bills in free agency

February 18, 2019 - 11:01 pm
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One of the obvious areas of biggest need for the Bills heading into the 2019 offseason is offensive line.  They could use help, and maybe a complete overhaul, at both guard positions, as well as right tackle.  They’ve already signed center/guard Spencer Long, who was released by the Jets, but it’s unclear if he’ll be lining up at guard or competing with Russell Bodine at center.  Bodine is coming off a broken leg he suffered late last season and entering the final year of his contract.  Right tackle Jordan Mills, center/guard Ryan Groy, and guard John Miller are all scheduled to become free agents, and it would be no surprise if the team let all of them walk as they search for upgrades at each spot.  Guard Vlad Ducasse is still under contract, but he’s clearly not a certainly to even be on the opening day roster, much less in a starting spot.  So where can the help come from in this year’s free agent class?  Here are some options the team may consider and how they might or might not fit the Bills in 2019:
 

TACKLES
 

Daryl Williams (RT)

Current team: Panthers
Age at start of season: 27

Ja’Wuan James (RT)

Current team: Dolphins
Age at start of season: 27

Trent Brown (LT)

Current team: Patriots
Age at start of season: 26

James has had a very up-and-down career since entering the league as the 19th overall pick in 2014 by the Dolphins.  He started all sixteen games for Miami his rookie year, first at right tackle, but then on the left side after Brandon Albert suffered an injury.  He was much better on the right side, and especially early in the season.  He moved back to right tackle in 2015, but was placed on I.R. midway through the season.  James had a nice bounce-back year in 2016, starting every regular season game, and the team’s lone playoff game.  That led to the Dolphins exercising their fifth-year option on his rookie contract, guaranteeing him just under $9.4 million for 2018.  He suffered a hamstring injury midway through the 2017 season, then started fifteen games last year while playing on that fifth-year option.  So, essentially, James has played a full season, half season, full season, half season, full season since entering the league.  He’s played (and started) 62 of a possible 80 games.  He might be an upgrade for the Bills, but at what cost?  With the tackle market so thin, James might get a higher deal than he normally would in other years given his career path.
 

Matt Paradis

Current team: Broncos
Age at start of season: 29

Mitch Morse

Current team: Chiefs
Age at start of season: 27


CENTERS
 

Rodger Saffold

Current team: Rams
Age at start of season: 31

Quinton Spain

Current team: Titans
Age at start of season: 28

Mitch Morse

Current team: Chiefs
Age at start of season: 27

Some believe Morse is a more valuable free agent than Paradis because he’s two years younger.  He’s basically been Kansas City’s starting center the past four years, since entering the league as a second round pick in 2015.  He’s very athletic and considered an excellent pass protector.  His main issue of concern is that he’s only played eighteen games over the past two seasons, missing nine games in 2017 after twice spraining his foot and then five games last year after suffering a concussion.  He’ll probably get less than Paradis, and at his age, if he can stay healthy, that could mean a much more valuable deal for whomever signs him.
 

GUARDS
 

Rodger Saffold

Current team: Rams
Age at start of season: 31

It remains to be seen if Saffold will truly even be available.  He’s spent his first nine years in the Rams organization and indications are he wants to stay there, and they’d like to make that happen.  But if he does hit the market, this is a versatile, solid lineman who would help any team in both the run and pass game.  After starting his career at left tackle, the Rams kicked him inside a few years ago and he hasn’t missed beat at left guard, remaining steady, reliable, and durable.  Saffold has missed only two games over the past three seasons.  His age might cause some teams to pause on giving him the big money, but if he and the Rams can’t come to an agreement and Saffold becomes a free agent, he’s expected to be the most sought-after guard on the market.
 

Quinton Spain

Current team: Titans
Age at start of season: 28

Spain’s had to work for everything he’s earned so far in the NFL.  He came into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015, signed by the Titans.  After making the initial 53-man roster, he then wound up starting six games at guard.  In 2016, he won the starting job and has held it ever since, missing only five games over the last three years.  He’s regarded as an excellent pass blocker, but the Titans have also had a solid running game throughout the time Spain has been one of the starting five.  After the 2017 season, Spain was a Restricted Free Agent and the Titans placed an “original round” tender on him, meaning they had the right to match any offer any other team made. He stayed in Tennessee playing on that $1.09 million one-year deal.  Now he’s eligible to be an Unrestricted Free Agent and really see what he’s worth.  He’s hitting free agency at the right time, with plenty of starting experience and still only 28 years old, so it will be interesting to see what kind of market develops for him.  
 


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