As we barrel towards 2013 NFL free agency and fan angst grows about the potential departure of Buffalo Bills left guard Andy Levitre, I had five thoughts on the matter that I wanted to jot down for public consumption, ridicule and/or enjoyment.
- Doug Marrone, a lineman during his playing days, has been coaching blockers since 1992 and has had good lines in New York, New Orleans and Syracuse. Pat Morris, the team's new offensive line coach, has coached in the NFL for 15 seasons, and has had a Top 10 rushing offense in nine of those. I'm confident enough in their abilities that I won't worry about the line, with or without Levitre, as long as they're in town.
- Unless there is a rare physical quality about the player, I don't believe guards are worth top dollar in free agency. The rarest quality Levitre possesses is his durability; that's not worth top dollar, in my opinion. On the field, there is nothing particularly overwhelming about Levitre, even though he's obviously a very good player.
- If Levitre is telling the truth and the team really hasn't offered him a contract, well, that's ridiculous. That notion still could just be posturing on the part of Levitre and his agent, but the idea that the Bills wouldn't offer a good, home-grown player a deal - even when they're probably correctly assuming that Levitre will out-price himself and break the bank on the open market - doesn't reflect well on the team.
- Reading the tea leaves, I think it's been apparent for quite a while that the team doesn't hold Levitre in as high regard as fans do. For one, during the 2011 pre-season, it was Levitre - not Kraig Urbik, who had never been a full-time starter - that was fighting for his starting job with an underling stealing first-team reps. Then there's the fact that Urbik signed a four-year contract extension in December, while Levitre is (apparently) still waiting for an offer. We know that the Bills like size/speed/athletic prototypes; I think it's clear now that Urbik is closer to what the team likes in guards than Levitre is.
- I'll admit that the idea of taking a tackle with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft, then moving Cordy Glenn somewhere else (either right tackle or, perhaps, to his more natural guard position) has intrigued me of late. If the Bills end up needing to replace Levitre, I think there are worse ways of going about doing it than taking one of this year's three top-flight tackle prospects and re-assembling the line as needed; as NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah pointed out over the weekend, Glenn has "perennial All-Pro" potential at right tackle, and I think that's true at guard, as well. I'm not advocating the idea (yet), but it has plenty of merit.
Long story short: it would be incredibly convenient if the Bills could simply reasonably re-sign Levitre and maintain the status quo, but that does not appear possible anymore. I'm not losing sleep over it for a number of reasons, and I don't think fans in general should be, either.