The Buffalo Bills have as many as three offensive guards set to enter free agency this year, but there isn’t a bountiful batch of options available to replace these players among the other available veterans in the league. Many of these players are older or just, well, bland. With offensive linemen in high demand around the league, the Bills might have to choose between a cheap stopgap or overpaying for a legitimate starter. They definitely aren’t in a position to pay either of the top guards hitting free agency, Brandon Scherff or Joe Thuney.
Keeping in mind that the Bills appreciate versatility, we’ll look at both offensive guards and offensive centers on the market. Here’s who could work for the Bills in 2021:
No really. The former Bills guard is one of the better options available. He had a cap hit of $4 million last year with the Carolina Panthers, and gave up three sacks and committed six penalties in 14 games. He’s never been a great starter, but he’s still managed to start 42 games in the last three seasons. He’s only 28—one of the best combinations of age and starting experience on the market.
But, well, Bills fans (and Bills coaches) have an idea of the ceiling here.
For the last four years, Feeney’s been the starting left guard (and center) for the Los Angeles Chargers. 57 starts in 63 games played, to be precise. The 6’4” 310-lb guard has been a remarkably consistent player for one of the most injury-plagued, inconsistent offenses in the league.
Could he be in for a big payday? Possibly. A former third-round pick, only 27 years old, he could easily earn $7 million to $8 million annually in his next deal.
That might be too expensive for the Bills—but as it’s roughly on par with what we think Jon Feliciano would earn on the open market, so we’ll include him here.
Elflein was drafted out of Ohio State, where he looked like a rising center prospect. But he struggled from the get-go the Minnesota Vikings’ starting center in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, rookie center Garrett Bradbury took his spot. Elflein then flexed between left and right guard, never finding his comfort zone, and the Vikings waived him in 2020—leaving him to finish his season with the New York Jets.
This is a classic “buy low” situation. Don’t expect to find a starter with Elflein. But maybe a change of scenery, away from Rick Dennison and Adam Gase, could be an opportunity for him to grow into his own. He’ll probably be affordable, too.
Fluker, entering his age-30 season, has the versatility to be a road-grading guard or a right tackle for the Bills, giving them a similar player to Daryl Williams on their roster. Playing with the Ravens this year, he rotated in and out of the lineup, especially after Ronnie Stanley suffered a season-ending injury. It never felt like he had a consistent role in Baltimore, but maybe his power blocking is the missing link for the Bills’ offense.
Looney is a center, but stands 6’3” and 315 lbs—that’s big enough to handle guard for the Bills, if he’s up for it. In 2021, Looney will be 31 years old and entering his tenth NFL season, having spent the last five with the Dallas Cowboys. He’s affordable—his last contract was one year, $2.4 million—but also spent most of his career as a top reserve. He was the starting center for the Cowboys this year.
Do you think the Bills could afford Austin Blythe or Lane Taylor? Maybe take a flyer on Kelechi Osmele returning from injury? Forrest Lamp or Ethan Pocic are young, but haven’t established themselves as consistent starters yet. Any interest in an older veteran like Daniel Kilgore (34 years old) or Tony Bergstrom (35)?
Who would you want the Bills to play at guard next year?
This poll is closed
Jon Feliciano, Brian Winters, Ike Boettger
- All-22 analysis of Jon Feliciano’s 2020 season
- All-22 analysis of Brian Winters’s 2020 season
- All-22 analysis of Ike Boettger’s 2020 season
- Contract projection for Jon Feliciano
- Contract projection for Brian Winters
- Contract projection for Ike Boettger
- Do the Bills have a guard waiting in the wings?
- Free-agent options for the Bills at guard
- 2021 NFL Draft options at guard
- Opinion: Bills should go with new guards in 2021. Here’s how.
- VOTE: What do you want to see at guard this offseason?