With their starting left tackle battling back from an ankle injury, their backup left tackle suffering his own ankle injury, and another tackle dealing with a debilitating disease, the Buffalo Bills added a street free agent partway through the 2016 season.
While he barely saw the field for Buffalo, this player provided an important quality of stability in the background. Can he be counted on for the upcoming season too?
Name: Michael Ola
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 312 lbs.
Draft: UDFA (2011)
Financial Situation (per Spotrac): Ola is on the second year of a two-year deal signed with the Bills last season. He’s owed $690,000 in salary this year, none of which would carry any dead cap charges if he were cut.
2016 Recap: Ola was signed by the Bills in October 2016. Cordy Glenn had only just returned to action from a high ankle sprain when backup left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio rolled his ankle. With Seantrel Henderson in the thick of rehabilitation from Crohn’s disease (and coming off a four game suspension), the team added Ola as an emergency option at left tackle. He ended up seeing the field for nine snaps on offense.
Positional Outlook: Cordy Glenn and Jordan Mills return as the starting left tackle and right tackle, for now at least. The Bills invested a second round selection in offensive tackle Dion Dawkins, who has been playing in Glenn’s place during Glenn’s offseason injury rehab. Kouandjio was cut this offseason, and Henderson is up against a ten game suspension. Offseason signings Vladimir Ducasse and Cameron Jefferson are Ola’s top competition for the roster.
2017 Offseason: Ola has had a quiet offseason.
2017 Season Outlook: At a minimum, Ola needs to beat Jefferson and the undrafted free agent linemen during training camp competition. With Henderson slated to miss most of the season, it then raises a question of whether Ola or Ducasse shows better potential as a swing tackle who can also fill in at guard. It doesn’t help his case that Ducasse was brought in by the current regime. His fate may come down to the number of offensive linemen carried on the roster.