If it seems like the Buffalo Bills sign low-risk, high-reward offensive linemen nearly every offseason, that’s because it’s true: general manager Brandon Beane has rolled the dice on many an offensive lineman in his time with the Bills, hitting more than he’s missed on those signings.
Sometimes, the player turns into a bona fide starter (Williams, Daryl). Sometimes, the player is used for trade bait (Newhouse, Marshall). Sometimes, injury leads to the player never appearing for the Bills at all (Waddle, LaAdrian). Sure, some of the signings end up duds (Bodine, Russell), but Beane has even managed to turn some of those lesser signings into draft capital later on through shrewd dealings.
It’s all part of a strategy to ensure that the Bills cover their bases when it comes to protecting their franchise quarterback. In today’s installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we profile one of Beane’s latest free agent signings—a talented player who has only managed to play 28 games in his four professional seasons.
Name: Forrest Lamp
Height/Weight: 6’4” 310 lbs
Age: 27 (28 on 2/20/2022)
College: Western Kentucky
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 4/15/2021
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Lamp signed a one-year contract worth a total of $1,057,500 this offseason. That total represents the salary cap figure that he’ll carry if he makes the final roster. Should Buffalo decide to release or trade him, the team will be charged with his signing bonus, a $350,000 value, as the dead-cap charge this year.
2020 Recap: Lamp played in 16 games for the first time in his injury-plagued NFL career, starting every game at left guard for the Chargers. Not only did he play in every game, but he also appeared on every snap, leading the entire NFL in snaps played with 1,174. On the plus side, Lamp was called for just one penalty on all of those snaps. He only allowed two sacks, as well. On the downside, Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the worst guards in the league, as his 49.4 overall grade was 72nd among 80 eligible guards. I take their grading with a pretty large grain of salt, but it’s another informational tool for those who use it.
Positional outlook: Lamp enters the fray in a crowded interior line group, as he’ll battle Jon Feliciano, Cody Ford, Ike Boettger, Jack Anderson, Syrus Tuitele, Steven Gonzalez, Jordan Devey, and Jamil Douglas for snaps at guard.
2021 Offseason: Lamp is healthy and he participated in OTAs.
2021 Season outlook: Lamp has the draft pedigree, and he finally stayed healthy last year, but I’m not sold on him as anything more than a reserve or trade chip just yet. Buffalo clearly wasn’t happy with their interior offensive line last year, yet they chose to re-sign both Jon Feliciano and Ike Boettger, which gives me the impression that they’ll be ahead of a newcomer like Lamp. Cody Ford is another player who I’d rank ahead of Lamp at the moment, though he has had issues with consistency and injuries, as well, during his young career. Given that the Bills typically keep nine offensive linemen, I do think that Lamp ends up on the roster—unless, of course, he’s used as the annual “Brandon Beane Trade Chip” in August—but I don’t think he’s a starter unless one of the aforementioned group or center Mitch Morse is hurt. One thing is for certain: the Bills are going to release and/or trade offensive linemen who have a chance to start on other rosters this summer. That’s a good position to be in if you’re the Bills, though it’s a difficult one for the players themselves. Lamp is firmly in that middle ground right now, though he’ll have plenty of chances to prove himself throughout the next eight weeks.