On Friday, reports came through that longtime Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood suffered a career-ending neck injury. Wood’s absence will leave a hole in the offensive line that needs to be filled and Buffalo will search all avenues to find a new starting center.
Center is a position most teams like to lock down for the long haul, so most of the available free-agent’s are career backups. That being said, here are some free-agent options to compete for the Bills starting center position in 2018.
Evan Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 31-year-old center was most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since 2014. Smith came into the league in 2009 and has played in 109 games, starting 53 of them. Smith started six games in 2017 due to an injury-plagued season for the Bucs offensive line.
Wesley Johnson, New York Jets
The Vanderbilt alum will be coming into his fifth NFL season in 2018. Johnson was a 5th round pick in 2014 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Johnson was waived early in his rookie year and was picked up by the New York Jets. Johnson has been a backup offensive lineman with the Jets ever since, starting nine games in his career.
Weston Richburg, New York Giants
Richburg was a second-round pick of the New York Giants in 2014. Richburg has played four seasons with the Giants offensive line, three of them as the starting center. Richburg is still young, but he struggles to stay healthy. Richburg missed 12 games in 2017 with a concussion that lingered since October 1st.
There are reports that the Giants may want to re-sign Richburg, so if that’s that case the Bills will have to act fast once free-agency begins.
Travis Swanson, Detroit Lions
Swanson was selected in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. Swanson has started 31 games as the Lions center, missing many games due to injury. In 2016 and 2017 Swanson was forced to be put on injured reserve, suffering concussions both times.
When Swanson was healthy, he was a very inconsistent player. He had a strong 2016 campaign, but before his injury in 2017 he was one of the worst centers in the NFL.
Russell Bodine, Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals fourth round draft-pick in 2014 has not been a particularly great center during his tenure with the Bengals. Bodine was even nominated by our SB Nation Bengals affiliate as the most disappointing player in 2017. However, sometimes a player just needs a change of scenery and scheme to thrive and Buffalo is now in desperate need of a center with experience.