Prior to the 2019 season, the Buffalo Bills made a concerted effort to improve their offensive line. Of the eight men to start as an offensive lineman, only one—left tackle Dion Dawkins—remained with the team in 2019. The Bills spent in excess of $78 million on a total of six players, five of whom remain with the team heading into 2020.
While the Bills spent big on their starting offensive line group, they didn’t hold back in shoring up the reserves, either, as they committed significant dollars to backup offensive linemen as well. With the salary-cap flexibility general manager Brandon Beane has engineered, it was a welcome sight that the Bills could stockpile some depth in case of injury.
In today’s edition of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile one of those reserve offensive lineman—a versatile veteran who could find himself on the roster again or even serving as trade bait this summer.
Name: Spencer Long
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 318 lbs.
Age: 29 )30 on 11/8/2020)
Experience/Draft: 7; selected in the third round (No. 78 overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft by Washington
Acquired: Signed as free agent with Buffalo on 2/12/19
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Long signed a three-year contract with the Bills that essentially amounted to a one-year deal with two club options for the team. In total, the contract is worth $12.6 million, with $1.2 million guaranteed. The Bills exercised the option for 2020 this winter, meaning that Long carries a $3.125 million cap hit if he makes the roster, and the Bills are on the hook for a $700,000 dead-cap charge if he’s released or traded.
2019 Recap: Long was a costly insurance policy for the Bills last year. While many speculated that his contract paid him to be a starter, he was beaten out by Quinton Spain and Jon Feliciano for the starting jobs at left and right guard. The Bills list him as a hybrid center/guard, but he was never going to be the starter at center once the team signed Mitch Morse. Long played significant offensive snaps in three games—twice he entered when Morse left with an injury (Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans and Week 12 against the Denver Broncos), and once he played when the team had its playoff positioning wrapped up (Week 17 against the New York Jets). In all, Long totaled 174 offensive snaps and 54 special teams snaps.
Positional outlook: The Bills are in an enviable position, as they return their entire starting offensive line from last season. They also return many key reserves, Long included, and they’ve added some more competition, as well. The interior offensive line group includes Long, Morse, Feliciano, Spain, Ike Boettger, Marquel Harrell, and Evan Boehm. Darryl Williams and Ryan Bates are primarily tackles, but they can kick inside to play guard, as well.
2020 Offseason: Nothing new to report here.
2020 Season outlook: Long is a great insurance policy to have, as he has plenty of starting experience (44 starts from 2015-2018) at multiple positions, which the team obviously values. However, with the dearth of offensive line talent throughout the league and the glut of talent the Bills have, it’s possible that Beane parlays Long’s talent into some draft capital, which he’s done with reserve offensive linemen in each of the last two offseasons. My guess is that Long is on the roster as a “swing guard” come September, but I wouldn’t rule out a trade, either.