With all of the new additions along the offensive line for the Buffalo Bills, it’s difficult to determine exactly who was acquired to start and who was acquired to provide quality depth. Usually, a look at the contracts for the individual players would provide enough insight into the team’s thinking, but when a team acquires as many players as the Bills did this spring, even that becomes convoluted.
The Bills added plenty of players with positional versatility and starting experience, and the competition that comes throughout training camp and the preseason should be excellent to watch. In today’s installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we look at a player who is looking to start at a different position than the one he played last season.
Name: Spencer Long
Height/Weight: 6’5” 318 lbs.
Age: 28 (29 on 11/8/19)
Experience/Draft: 6; selected in the third round (78 overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft by Washington
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 2/12/19
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Long inked a three-year deal with Buffalo after he was cut by the New York Jets. The total worth of the contract is $12.6 million, but two of the three years (and $8.7 million of the total worth of the contract) are tied up in two separate club options for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Essentially, it’s a one-year deal at $3,837,500, and the Bills can exercise their option to retain Long if he plays well. If the Bills cut him prior to the start of this season, they will incur a $1.3 million dead-cap charge. Long’s cap hit for 2019 is $3,937,500.
2018 Recap: Long was the starter at center for the Jets last year, and he had a miserable season overall. He dealt with a finger injury that prevented him from snapping cleanly, especially out of the shotgun, and was briefly benched during the Jets’ Week 13 game against the Tennessee Titans. He started at left guard for the team’s Week 14-Week 16 games before switching back to center for the season finale. Overall, he made 13 starts, committing four penalties for 30 yards. He also allowed a career-worst 3.5 sacks on the year.
Positional outlook: Long won’t start at center, as Mitch Morse signed a massive contract to do just that, so the versatile interior offensive lineman will look to earn starter’s reps at guard. In order to do that, he’ll have to beat Jon Feliciano, Wyatt Teller, Vladimir Ducasse, Quinton Spain, Ike Boettger, and De’Ondre Wesley.
2019 Offseason: Long has participated in all offseason activities to date. He has predominantly lined up with the first-team at left guard, but he has played center with the second grouping, as well.
2019 Season outlook: Long will probably open the season as the team’s starting left guard, provided that he plays well enough to hold off Feliciano and Teller. At worst, the Bills have themselves a quality interior reserve, and at best they have a strong guard. He started 13 games at left guard for Washington in 2015, when he committed zero penalties and allowed only one sack. He is a solid player who should help the team to improve in the trenches.