With each passing day that Buffalo Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn continues to miss practice time with an ailing left foot, first-year head coach Sean McDermott must weigh his options for replacing Glenn, who has been a steadying force while starting 72 games during his five years in Orchard Park. Glenn, who traveled to Wisconsin to receive an injection in his foot from specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, has already been ruled out for Thursday’s preseason game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.
Originally described as a day-to-day injury, Glenn’s condition has been downgraded to week-to-week, and his status for the season opener Sept. 10 vs. the New York Jets is in question.
Does Buffalo have a logical replacement for Glenn’s productivity on the current roster? Or would the team turn to free agency to bolster one of the most important positions on the offensive line, the blindside protector of quarterback Tyrod Taylor?
On the free agent front, 32-year-old Branden Albert (Jacksonville) brings the most potential to a Glenn replacement, but his commitment to football must be questioned after he retired in July, mere months after the Jaguars acquired the former Pro Bowler from the Miami Dolphins. In a change of heart, Albert backed off his retirement stance and announced he wanted to report to training camp, but the Jaguars released Albert on Aug. 11. During the 2016 season, arguably his worst as a professional, Pro Football Focus gave Albert a 42.2 grade following a campaign where he missed four games due to injury. Albert was a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 and was named to two Pro Bowls.
King Dunlap, 31, a nine-year NFL veteran, most recently served as starting left tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers, but when the team brought in Russell Okung, Dunlap was released. He has proven himself to be more than capable at left tackle. In 2016, Dunlap appeared in 12 games, allowing four sacks while making 12 starts. Pro Football Focus gave Dunlap a 60.4 grade. Injuries are a concern, as Dunlap has missed 14 games during the past two seasons.
Ryan Clady, 30, was released by the New York Jets in the spring following an injury-plagued 2016, and announced his retirement from football on Aug. 1. Clady appeared in nine games and made eight starts before tearing his rotator cuff and going on injured reserve. Since the start of the 2013 season, injuries have forced Clady to miss 30 games, including the entire 2015 season, and 14 games of the 2013 season. When healthy, Clady has shown to be an effective player, making the Pro Bowl in 2014. During his career, Clady earned four Pro Bowl appearances with a pair of All-Pro honors.
The rest of the free agent pool features William Beatty, 32, who started for the New York Giants for six years before losing his job last season; and Jake Long, 32, the 2008 No. 1 overall draft pick who earned trips to the Pro Bowl each of his first four seasons before injuries (including a pair of ACL tears) hit. Long was released by the Minnesota Vikings after a lackluster 2016 campaign.
With Glenn out of commission, veteran Seantrel Henderson has worked as left tackle with the first team, but Henderson is suspended for the first five games of the regular season for violating the NFL's Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. After seeing plenty of reps at left tackle during the spring, rookie second-round selection Dion Dawkins has been working almost exclusively at right tackle, potentially leaving third-year tackle Cameron Jefferson next in line at left tackle. Jefferson went undrafted out of the University of Arkansas.
Glenn allowed only one sack in 397 pass-blocking snaps before injury sidelined him in 2016, and Pro Football Focus gave Glenn an 82.8 grade, good for 22nd among all offensive tackles.