The offensive line as a whole was a group in need of improvement for the Buffalo Bills. So, general manager Brandon Beane went out and changed the personnel in a big way. He signed six veteran free agents and one undrafted rookie while also drafting a player to compete for time. On the surface, it appears that Beane has significantly improved the talent along the line.
In our latest installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile one of those veteran free agent signings—someone who comes to Buffalo by way of the reigning Super Bowl champions.
Name: LaAdrian Waddle
Height/Weight: 6’6” 315 lbs.
Age: 27 (28 on 7/21/19)
Experience/Draft: signed as UDFA with Detroit Lions following the 2013 NFL Draft
College: Texas Tech
Acquired: Signed as unrestricted free agent with Bills on 3/16/19
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Waddle’s one-year contract is worth a total of $2 million, of which $400,000 is guaranteed. As a vested veteran, the entirety of his base salary, $1 million, becomes fully guaranteed if he is on the roster for the first week of the season. If Buffalo cuts him prior to the beginning of the season, he will count only $400,000 in dead cap for 2019.
2018 Recap: Waddle appeared in all 16 games for the first time in his career last season, serving as a backup tackle with the New England Patriots. He made three starts at right tackle for the team, appearing in a total of 342 offensive snaps during the regular season. He committed two penalties for a total of 14 yards and allowed two sacks on the year.
Positional outlook: Waddle finds himself right in the thick of a good battle at offensive tackle. Dion Dawkins, Conor McDermott, and Jeremiah Sirles remain on the roster from last season, while De’Ondre Wesley returns to the Bills after spending training camp and the preseason with the team in 2018 before he was released. Fellow veteran free agent Ty Nsekhe and second-round draft choice Cody Ford round out the positional group.
2019 Offseason: Waddle has participated in all offseason activities to date; he was the second-team left tackle during mandatory minicamp in June.
2019 Season outlook: Waddle has a very good chance to make the roster, though his place isn’t as sound as Nsekhe’s. It’s likely that he is battling Sirles for the final tackle spot on the 53-man roster, and while Sirles may have the versatility that the team covets, Waddle is a better lineman. I initially had Sirles pegged as the winner here, but I’ve changed my mind a bit, as I expect that the team will go with Dawkins, Ford, Nsekhe, and Waddle as its tackles when they make their final cuts in early September. Waddle is probably on the outside looking in when it comes to making a dent in the starting lineup, but he definitely serves as quality depth. Another possibility is that general manager Brandon Beane does with Waddle what he did last year with Marshall Newhouse, choosing to flip the veteran tackle for a draft choice rather than keeping him for the season. As of now, however, Waddle is probably among Buffalo’s top eight offensive linemen.