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Contract projection for Buffalo Bills restricted free-agent guard Ike Boettger

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Buffalo Bills guard Ike Boettger started seven games for the Bills in 2020, as he replaced Quinton Spain and Brian Winters in the starting lineup. The team did not get much help from their other guards and having Boettger around solidified the position in the back part of the year.

But now Boettger is entering free agency. He is a restricted free agent, which means the Bills can tender him a one-year contract for a specific value. If Boettger signs another contract with different team, Buffalo could match the contract or let Boettger leave and collect a draft choice equal to the round in which he was drafted.

Boettger was signed as an undrafted free agent, though, so the Bills wouldn’t get anything in return for Boettger leaving, but would still receive the right of first refusal. To get that, Buffalo would need to offer Boettger a one-year, $2.133 million deal. That could also chose to place a second-round tender on him for $3.384 million and receive a second-round pick in return.

For a guy with seven NFL starts to his name, that’s a lot—even for a guy this coaching staff has brought along and wants to reward. Jonotthan Harrison was signed off the Bills practice squad at the end of the season with a $2 million contract from the New York Giants, but he has 42 NFL starts in his career.

So where do we land on Boettger?

Last year, we were worried that the Bills had to choose between the RFA tender for Isaiah McKenzie or let him walk. Buffalo was able to re-sign him to a minimum deal. They sweetened the pot, making some of that money guaranteed and giving him a small signing bonus, as well.

The league minimum for players with three years of service is $920k in 2021. That’s the bare minimum Boettger can make. I think that deal with an opportunity to start is the most I’m willing to do for Boettger right now. Buffalo needs to overhaul their offensive line and Boettger wasn’t an outlier playing better than the rest of the group a year ago.

One year, $920,000 ($275,000 guaranteed)

It’s essentially the same contract they gave to McKenzie. A $137,500 signing bonus and $137,500 of the salary guaranteed. He has made $1.77 million in his career to date. A year from now if he’s the starter, Buffalo or another team will pony up for him.

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