The Buffalo Bills are releasing offensive lineman Spencer Long, according to ESPN insider Adam Schefter. CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora made a separate report to the same. Long was in the second year of a three-year contract with the Bills, and the team had just picked up a $4 million option in March. However, with Jon Feliciano tearing his pectoral muscle, and the team reportedly agreeing to terms with free-agent guard Brian Winters, the Bills needed a corresponding roster move—and Long was the casualty.
Long ultimately played one season for the Bills, appearing in 14 games without starting any. He played 16% of snaps as a reserve offensive lineman, and appeared on 13% of the special teams snaps.
Long was set to have a cap hit of just over $3.1 million in 2020, but only $700,000 qualifies as “dead cap,” so the Bills save $2.4 million against the 2020 cap with this move. Long’s $4.5 million club option for 2021 is also off the books now.
Financially, especially in a cash-strapped season under COVID-19, the move made sense. But it does raise the question of “who is the team’s backup center?”
With Feliciano sidelined for months, Long was the next man up if Mitch Morse couldn’t play. Do the Bills think Winters or Quinton Spain could fill in? Daryl Williams has played four positions on the offensive line, but center wasn’t one of them. That leaves the trio of Ike Boettger, Ryan Bates, and Evan Boehm. Each of those young players has some sort of experience playing center, but primarily played another position like guard or tackle. Boehm, with 21 career starts, might be the favorite. The other two have barely played on Sundays in their young careers.