With news that Ryan Bates is likely to sign a contract with the Chicago Bears, the clock is ticking for the Buffalo Bills to respond in kind or see their offensive lineman land with a new team.
If Bates departs, it’d be a major hit to the Bills’ offensive line, and not just because Bates emerged as a workable starting guard in the 2021 season. Bates was the team’s primary backup center and could even flex to tackle if needed. The team has now seen Daryl Williams and Jon Feliciano depart this offseason, and Ike Boettger is an unsigned free agent as well (though he is recovering from late-season Achilles surgery). At the moment, Cody Ford and Greg Mancz will be battling to start at right guard and Mancz is the only backup center option.
If Bates departs, his $2.433 million tender amount comes off of Buffalo’s books. That would allow them to sign his replacement for a similar cap figure in a one-to-one swap.
So the Bills still need an interior offensive lineman. Who’s still on the free-agent market? Glad you asked.
Odd circumstances when a five-time Pro Bowl player, only 27, is traded. But that says a lot about both the Pro Bowl and how Turner’s team viewed him in 2020. He started nine games for his new team, then was released from his contract.
Turner signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and played well, starting the full season with them. It was his first full season since 2016.
A guard/tackle with 102 games and 81 starts of experience, Schofield could have a similar role on this team to Daryl Williams. He’s a right guard who can flex to right tackle. His last few contracts have been for the veteran minimum salary.
A 6’6”, 320-lb center who can also play guard (and probably tackle, with his measurements), Pocic has been a solid starter for the Seattle Seahawks, but one with injury issues. He missed almost the entire 2019 season with a back ailment, and a knee sprain cost him four games in 2021.
It feels like Miller’s been in the league forever, doesn’t it? He’s entering his eighth pro season, still only 28 years old, and just finished a pair of low-cost one-year deals with the Carolina Panthers. With Aaron Kromer back in the picture, could Miller return to his old OL coach?
A low-cost DIY project, Hernandez was a road-grading second-round pick by the New York Giants. He was a starter for almost his whole four-year career with New York, but the team was bad and he often wasn’t good enough to turn them around. Maybe the Bills, familiar with draft busts at offensive guard, take a peek and see if they can coach Hernandez into a starter?
A three-time Pro Bowl player, Long retired in 2019 after years of various injuries. He unretired for the 2021 season, signing with the Kansas City Chiefs, but never appeared in a game for them. If he’s healthy, he’s a highly respected player who could provide depth on the roster.
A former draft bust with the Cincinnati Bengals, Price was traded to the New York Giants for B.J. Hill and, weirdly, both teams benefited from the deal. Price became a starter, played almost every snap for his new team, and held his own. His age (27) and guard-center versatility is a plus.
From 2017 to 2019, Martin started at center for the Houston Texans. Early in the 2019 season, he signed a three-year, $33 million contract extension. In 2020 he continued his starting role, then the Texans released him in the offseason in a cost-cutting move. Fans were pleased with that decision, as Martin was seen as overpaid for his level of performance (as well as guilty of occasional botched snaps).
On the rebound from his release, Martin signed a one-year, $1.125 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. He barely saw the field in a backup role behind Andre James, and once again he’s a free agent.
A former fourth-round pick of the Denver Broncos, Garcia’s started 52 games in his seven-year career, appearing in 93 games in total. He’s played both guard and center, although he had a tendency for bad snaps when playing center.
Finney’s career is mainly as a spot starter, with 73 game appearances and 15 starts. A center by trade, he’s played all three interior line positions.