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Could the Buffalo Bills replace Russell Bodine with someone already on the roster?

Ryan Groy is a possibility, but he struggled in 2018, and is a free agent

The Buffalo Bills were dealt a huge blow to their normally reliable offensive line heading into the 2018 off-season when center Eric Wood announced he was retiring due to a persistent neck injury.

The Bills rotated between Ryan Groy (first two games) and Russell Bodine (elevated to starter in Week 3 until suffering a season-ending leg surgery Dec. 3) at center for the 2018 season, with mixed results.

Bodine, who signed a two-year contract with the Bills for $5 million with a $1 million signing bonus after playing with the Cincinnati Bengals for the first four years of his NFL career, would appear to be the front-runner to start at center in the 2019 campaign.

In his first season in Western New York, Bodine appeared in ten games, ranking 18th among centers according to Pro Football Focus with a grade of 61.6 before fracturing his fibula during a 21-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Bodine’s play (along with the rest of the offensive line in general) contributed to a ground game that regressed in 2018. Buffalo’s running backs managed 1,237 yards on 350 carries, good for a pedestrian 3.53 yards per carry. Particularly up the middle, the Bills seemed to struggle to open holes for backs like LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, Marcus Murphy, and Keith Ford.

If the Bills were to move on from Bodine before year two of his contract, they would save $2.3 million in salary cap. Bodine, who is set to be Buffalo’s most expensive offensive lineman in 2019, does have a decent in-house replacement waiting in the wings should the team release Bodine.

The only problem? That candidate, Groy, is an unrestricted free agent. Groy, who is considered a versatile swingman and can line up at guard or under center, started the season at center before being replaced by Bodine in Week 3. After Bodine was lost with a broken fibula in Week 13, Groy returned to action as the starting center for Buffalo’s last four games.

The results weren’t what the Bills were hoping for out of Groy, who ranked 37th out of 39 qualifying centers with a 46.7 grade according to PFF. Groy allowed three quarterback hits and eight hurries.

The only other option is Jeremiah Sirles, who just signed a one-year contract for the veteran minimum to stay in Buffalo in 2019. In 2017 he started a couple games for the Minnesota Vikings at center, but hasn’t played the position in Buffalo. He was underwhelming during his 138 offensive snaps in 2018.

With changes expected along the left side of the offensive line, with decent production from Bodine when he was healthy, and with limited in-house replacements available, the Bills would probably be wise to retain Bodine for year two of his contract.