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State of the Buffalo Bills’ roster: Interior offensive linemen

Will they stay status quo in 2020?

Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

In 2018, the Buffalo Bills started the year with Vlad Ducasse, Ryan Groy, and John Miller as their interior offensive linemen. The backup center was Russell Bodine. Wyatt Teller was the backup at left guard.

What do all of those players have in common? Not one of them remained with the team in 2019, as the Bills went with a full-scale redesign along the offensive line rather than a slow and steady approach. The Bills added plenty of veterans to the mix, giving quarterback Josh Allen a much better unit up front than the one he had as a rookie.

With the 2020 season looming, the Bills are on the opposite end of the spectrum, returning their top five interior offensive linemen from a year ago and adding a few complementary pieces for depth. (Note: We included Daryl Williams on our look at the offensive tackles.)

In our latest look at the state of the Buffalo Bills’ roster, we look at the interior offensive linemen—as group that was a point of strength for the Buffalo offense.

Quinton Spain

Contract status for 2020: Signed a three-year, $15 million contract this offseason ($4.75 million cap hit; $4.5 million dead cap charge if cut)
Age: 28 (29 on 8/7/2020)
2019 Playing time: 16 games, 16 starts, 1063 offensive snaps (99.4%), 61 ST snaps (14.7%)
Key 2019 statistics: 2 penalties, 20 penalty yards, 1 sack allowed, 9 sack yards allowed

Spain outplayed his one-year contract significantly, as he appeared on more snaps than any member of the Bills’ offense. He was consistently among the team’s best offensive linemen all year long. Once again, he must have felt his market was soft as he re-signed before training camp opened to a modest deal. He has the inside track to start at left guard again if the team decides they want continuity.

Mitch Morse

Contract status for 2020: Signed; second year of four-year contract ($11.625 million cap hit; $10.25 million dead cap charge if cut)
Age: Turned 28 on 4/21/2020
2019 Playing time: 16 games, 16 starts, 908 offensive snaps (84.9%)
Key 2019 statistics: 3 penalties, 24 penalty yards, 2 sacks allowed, 18 sack yards allowed

Morse was a tremendous upgrade from his predecessors at the position, and he was able to start all 16 games for only the second time in his career. While he did miss some time in games due to minor injuries, none of them were severe enough to keep him from appearing in a contest. His contract is obviously tremendous, as it reset the market for center contracts in the league. At the time he signed it last March, it was the richest contract ever given to a center; now, his overall contract value is the fifth-highest in the league. For helping to settle one of the most important positions on the field, Morse has been worth every penny.

Jon Feliciano

Contract status for 2020: Signed; final year of two-year contract ($3.75 million cap hit; $750,000 dead cap charge if cut)
Age: Turned 28 on 2/10/2020
2019 Playing time: 16 games, 16 starts, 947 offensive snaps (88.6%), 56 ST snaps (13.5%)
Key 2019 statistics: 6 penalties, 60 yards, 3.5 sacks allowed, 24 sack yards allowed

This one was a wild card last year, as Feliciano wasn’t held in terribly high regard during his tenure with the Oakland Raiders. Most saw “Mongo” as a depth piece, but after he earned the starting right guard job coming out of the preseason, he was a tremendous contributor up front. Feliciano is the guy who brings the “nasty” to the Bills’ line group, as he is always involved in some sort of tussle with opposing players. He plays hard through the whistle, and he is always willing to stand up for his teammates on the field. Feliciano’s current contract is a bargain, and he could play out the year as the starting right guard again earning a pay bump in free agency.

Spencer Long

Contract status for 2020: Buffalo picked up his club option for 2020 ($3.125 million cap hit; $700,000 dead cap charge if cut)
Age: 29 (30 on 11/9/2020)
2019 Playing time: 14 games, 0 starts, 174 offensive snaps (16.3%), 54 ST snaps (13%)
Key 2019 statistics: 0 penalties, .5 sacks allowed, 3 sack yards allowed

Long was an expensive reserve last season, but the team had the cap space and it was wise to invest in the offensive line given the struggles there in 2018. Just because the team had a good run of health and didn’t need to cash in on the insurance policy doesn’t mean that it was a bad idea to have the insurance policy there in the first place. At worst, Long is a good fallback option if there is an injury or Buffalo could decide to move on to a cheaper option for depth. A trade isn’t out of the question in training camp.

Ike Boettger

Contract status for 2020: Signed; final year of rookie deal ($660,000 cap hit; $0 dead money if cut)
Age: 25 (26 on 10/5/2020)
2019 Playing time: 2 games, 0 starts, 54 offensive snaps (5.1%), 4 ST snaps (1%)
Key 2019 statistics: N/A

The inactive guard on game days, Boettger is a solid developmental piece with plenty of experience in the offensive system. He’s a back-end piece. If Buffalo has a glut of interior offensive linemen, they could look to trade one at the end of August like they did a year ago.

Evan Boehm

Contract status for 2020: Signed a one-year, $1.03 million deal this offseason ($875,000 cap hit; $25,000 dead cap charge if cut)
Age: 26 (Turns 27 on 8/19/2020)
2019 Playing time: 13 games (8 starts) for Miami Dolphins, 594 offensive snaps (55%), 45 special teams snaps (10%)
Key 2019 statistics: 2 fumble recoveries, 4 penalties, 0 sacks allowed for Miami Dolphins

Boehm is a really intriguing depth option. He was traded from the Indianapolis Colts to the Dolphins last offseason and started eight games so he has experience. If he doesn’t make Buffalo’s roster, he could find himself traded again this offseason. Buffalo has a bunch of depth options with starting experience at guard.

Garrett McGhin

Contract status for 2020: Signed a one-year minimum salary this offseason ($675,000 cap charge, $0 if cut)
Age: 24 (Turns 25 on 10/13/2020)
2019 Playing time: 2 games for Carolina Panthers, 7 special teams snaps
Key 2019 statistics: N/A

McGhin started 2019 with the Bills as an undrafted free agent but he was released during final cuts. He latched on with the Panthers, but only found his way onto the roster for two games and a handful of special teams snaps. He re-signed with the Bills in April. He could find himself on the practice squad in 2020 but is unlikely to crack the opening day roster.

Marquel Harrell

Contract status for 2020: Signed a three-year UDFA contract this offseason ($616,666 cap charge; $45,000 dead cap charge if cut)
Age: Turned 23 on 7/18/2020
2019 Playing time: 13 starts for Auburn Tigers

With a crowd at the position, Harrell may be fighting for a practice squad spot. Even that might be lofty with the veteran depth they have.

Positional Outlook

Instead of moving Cody Ford inside, the Bills loaded up with more young talent and signed Daryl Williams, who we profiled with the tackles but could slide inside to guard. With a lot of options, this is the area where we could once again see a trade at the end of training camp like Russell Bodine a year ago.

Even in the starting lineup, how much do the Bills want to just stay as-is from a year ago. Were Quinton Spain and Jon Feliciano good enough to be handed jobs in 2020? Probably not but the the COVID offseason, the continuity could be a blessing.

They have a ton of versatility here with Feliciano and Long having center experience in addition to playing guard. The Bills have to be pretty happy with the look of their interior offensive line heading into the season.