The Buffalo Bills offensive line didn’t play well enough in 2018. They fired offensive line coach Juan Castillo and replaced him with up-and-comer Bobby Johnson. What does that mean for the vacant right guard spot and soon-to-be free agent guard John Miller?
Read our information and then vote in the poll at the bottom of the article.
Drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2015, offensive guard John Miller has had a roller coaster of a career to this point. The primary starter in 2015 and 2016, Miller was replaced by Vlad Ducasse early in the 2017 season. With Ducasse sliding to the left side in 2018, Miller reclaimed his rightful spot on the line. However, toward the end of the season, Miller lost significant snaps as the Buffalo Bills tinkered with his position. It seems clear that the Bills would like to upgrade. Let’s turn to the tape to see if we can find what’s fueling their ire.
Miller unfortunately has what could be the single worst trait for a lineman, known as “inconsistency.” He’s strong enough to take on a double team and ward off the likes of Margus Hunt but he’s just as capable of letting his feet slip up and getting shoved around as a result. He’s agile and fast enough to move block and bounce around the field, but can be indecisive. Miller’s volatility means that when he turns in a bad rep, it can be really bad. As a result, it’s not unfair to consider Miller a liability.
Los Angeles Chargers
Signed a two-year, $5 million contract in 2018
Signed a two-year, $2.1 million contract in 2018
Signed a one-year, $2 million contract in 2018
If I’m the Bills, I offer Miller Vlad Ducasse money because I’m probably only keeping one of them around. Ducasse is set to make $2 million in 2019, the final year of his contract. That number is mostly in line with the other contract listed above, which value marginal starting guards at just over $2 million per season.
Two years, $4.8 million including $500,000 signing bonus
Veteran Vlad Ducasse was benched during the 2018 season on the left side when Buffalo inserted a rookie. He is still under contract for one year at $2 million, but after being benched, would they really turn to him on the other side of the line?
Rookie Wyatt Teller, entering his second season, displayed a ton of promise in eight games (seven starts), allowing only eight quarterback pressures with no sacks and five committed penalties. The fifth-round draft pick proved himself capable in pass protection, though his run-blocking has room for improvement.
Jeremiah Sirles, who recently inked a one-year contract extension with Buffalo for the 2019 season, was active in 12 games (five starts) and saw time at both tackle and guard. He is a swingman who is expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. He could start in a pinch but shouldn’t be handed the job.
Lastly, there’s Ike Boettger, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Iowa who spent the entire off-season, training camp and the pre-season with the Bills. After serving as Buffalo’s back-up right guard, he was released before the regular season. Boettger eventually released by the Kansas City Chiefs and claimed on waiver by the Bills and appeared in the team’s last four games.
The 26-year old graded out as PFF’s 17th-best guard this season, earning a 69.8 overall grade on the year. His improved play was a big part of the reason that the Indianapolis Colts were able to keep quarterback Andrew Luck healthy. Buffalo’s new offensive line coach, Bobby Johnson, was on the Indy staff last year as assistant offensive line coach.
The 28-year old Fluker graded poorly in PFF’s overall rankings (49.8 overall; guard No. 70); however, the outlet noted that he only allowed nine pressures in ten games this year. A huge negative is the number of penalties he committed last year—nine—which brought his career total to 43 penalties in 74 career games.
The Los Angeles Rams will play in Super Bowl LIII in February, and it could be their veteran guard’s last game with the team. Saffold is 31 and coming off a season where PFF graded him as the seventh-best guard in the NFL, as he earned a 73.8 overall grade.
The veteran has been a dominant force on the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line since 2009. He has been remarkably durable, starting 14 games or more in every season since 2011. He has continued to perform at a high level despite his advanced age (Foster just turned 33), and PFF graded his play this year at a 69.1, which was sixteenth among all guards.
It won’t happen...would it? A reunion with Buffalo’s second-round draft pick from the 2009 NFL Draft would be something, but at 32, he seems to be on the decline, as he has had his season end prematurely each of the last two years due to triceps muscle tears.
Cody Ford (Oklahoma)
Michael Deiter (Wisconsin)
Dalton Risner (Kansas State)
Chris Lindstrom (Boston College)
Beau Benzschawel (Wisconsin)
Connor McGovern (Penn State)
Michael Jordan (Ohio State)
Garrett Brumfield (LSU)
Ryan Bates (Penn State)
Dru Samia (Oklahoma)
Ben Powers (Oklahoma)
Short scouting reports on each draft-eligible player available in our feature-length article.
Now it’s your turn, Bills fans. Vote on what you think Buffalo should do with veteran guard John Miller.
What should the Bills do at right guard this offseason?
This poll is closed
Let Miller walk, replace with Ducasse or someone else currently on roster
Let Miller walk, draft a replacement starter
Let Miller walk, sign a free agent starter
Re-sign Miller as the starter
Re-sign Miller as depth, add a starter via free agency
Re-sign Miller as depth, add a starter via the draft
Re-sign Miller as depth to compete with the rest of the guys already under contract