It's Friday, which means another morning dedicated to mulling over questions submitted by the fine readers of Buffalo Rumblings. Our Buffalo Bills mailbag posts have been a lifesaver this off-season, so if you've been dying to see something covered or have a simple question about our favorite football team, please send it our way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week's quintet of inquiries involve a great deal of worry within the fan base, it seems; let's dive right in.
Shouldn't we be worried about the Bills' offensive line given that two spots are open for competition and the left guard will either be a highly inexperienced reserve-type or an experienced reserve-type? - Jonathan
Let's put it this way: it's been a little while since the Bills have had two spots legitimately open for competition on the offensive line. Even before we consider personnel, the fact that there could be fluctuation at two of the five line spots is cause for concern from a cohesion standpoint.
I, personally, am not worried about the offensive line. There isn't much in the way of top-flight talent there - Cordy Glenn is very physically gifted, and Eric Wood is a fine technician - but the rest are either average talents or worse. But average isn't a bad thing to be on the offensive line, particularly if the unit of five is on the same page and minimizing mistakes. Doug Marrone is an excellent line coach, as is the team's actual line coach, Pat Morris. I am not overly worried about this positional group, but am most definitely interested to see who can lock down those starting jobs at left guard and right tackle.
But then, I can certainly understand why some fans would be worried about the line, as well.
With the Bills needing some serious leadership at linebacker and having an apparent successful visit with Karlos Dansby, why did the Bills not sign him? Was this a reflection of Buddy Nix trying to save money? - Tim in TN
I think it's pretty clear at this point that it was more a reflection of Dansby's playing preferences. He took less money and a one-year deal to return to Arizona - the team that drafted him - and he made that very clear when the deal was signed. Buffalo's interest in Dansby was legitimate, but free agent shopping isn't like grocery shopping; your choice container of eggs can't decide that they'd rather be eaten by another family. Buffalo would've happily dropped coin on a player they could have really used.
How is Dustin Hopkins looking so far, and do you expect this battle to go deep into the preseason or do you expect the Bills to make a move early to get Hopkins acclimated? - Shawn Cooper
OTA season is not typically when the stock of kickers takes off, so there hasn't been much in the way of coverage at the kicker spot. I also don't really know how to speculate on how long the kicker competition could last, because that's entirely at the discretion of Doug Marrone, and we don't really know how he operates yet.
What I believe is clear about Hopkins, however, is that he'd need to be a cataclysmic failure to not beat out Rian Lindell for the kicking job. Teams don't draft kickers in the sixth round as mere competition for the veteran; Lindell has already been replaced, provided that Hopkins can show this summer that he's the kicker the Bills think he is.
Is it just me, or do you too think that Jairus Byrd doesn't want to come back to the Bills? - John W
You're certainly not alone, John. This theory is talked about almost daily. I abstain from those discussions and honestly have no opinion on the matter, because I don't know Byrd's situation personally. Most of the rhetoric is conjecture and speculation, but anything is possible.
What I believe is clear is that Byrd wants a long-term contract (obviously), and this is the way to go about getting one of those. He still has more than a month to sign a long-term deal with the Bills; that's an option straight through July 15. If that deadline comes and goes without a deal, Byrd's next move - i.e. whether he decides to sign his franchise tender and report to camp two weeks later, or if he decides to sit out camp practices and make a statement - could lend us a little more insight on this matter.
I was wondering if you can project C.J. Spiller's next contract? - @dsumner48
What people don't realize is that Spiller has had one of the 10 or 15 highest contracts at his position from the moment he signed his rookie deal in August of 2010; he's only earned that coin for about a season and a half now. Where he lands contract-wise depends on his performance over the next two seasons (he's under contract through 2015, though he can void the final year of his deal). Next off-season might be the time where his contract rises to more relevance, and another Pro Bowl campaign could land him in Chris Johnson, LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster territory contract-wise.