The Buffalo Bills seem to be set along the starting offensive line group. The unit that ended last season will, essentially, remain intact. Dion Dawkins figures to start at left tackle, Ryan Bates will remain at left guard, Mitch Morse will play center, and Spencer Brown will man the right tackle spot. The only newcomer is veteran Roger Saffold, who should play right guard.
While we’d love to assume perfect health for our Bills in 2022, we know that’s just not likely. Fortunately, general manager Brandon Beane is one of the league’s best when it comes to building depth along the offensive line, continually adding pieces so that the team has viable options in the event of catastrophe.
After the front office made some roster moves of late, Buffalo cleared out some salary cap space. That leaves them with room to sign some of those “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency”-type players that Beane either stashes on the roster or flips for draft capital in August. Fortunately, Buffalo isn’t in a place where they need to find a starter—instead, they need to find some good reserves.
Wondering about some offensive tackles who are still available for the Bills to sign? Fortunately, you’ve clicked on the right article. The full list of available free agents, according to Spotrac, can be found here—but we’ve highlighted a few favorites below.
The former No.1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft started 15 games last year for the Indianapolis Colts. He’s a two-time Pro Bowl player who made over $8 million last season, so it’s a tad surprising that he’s still available. I’d assume that he wants to wait out the market and find a starting job, but he’d be a huge upgrade over Tommy Doyle for Buffalo. This isn’t a likely signing, but if we’re talking about the top available talent, he needs to be in the conversation.
Tom Brady’s former blindside protector with the New England Patriots spent the last four years in New Jersey playing for the New York Giants. At 33 years old, he’s creeping closer to the end of the line, so he may be more interested in staying in the northeast than he is finding a spot where he can start. He hasn’t missed a game since 2016.
Old friend alert! As a swing tackle, Nsekhe is a solid, if unspectacular upgrade to Doyle. At worst, he’s a strong veteran presence who can push Doyle along in his development for a year. Plus, Nsekhe has some guard versatility. He turns 37 in October.
Another who’s soon to be 37 years old, Brown made the Pro Bowl last year with the Seattle Seahawks. If he’s interested in trying to win another ring, jumping on the Buffalo bandwagon as the third tackle could be a nice way to do it. The Bills could do much worse than Brown, who was a first-round pick by the Houston Texans in 2008.
Familiarity? Lack of funds? Hart is, at least, a veteran who has started NFL games. That’s about the best thing I can say for him.
The former first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers has spent a lot of time injured during his career, missing time in seven of his 11 NFL seasons. In the last two years with the Los Angeles Chargers, Bulaga only managed to play in 11 games combined. That doesn’t bode well for him as a starter, but it also means that a team like Buffalo could offer him a shot at coming on in a reserve role, staying healthy for a season, and going out to find a two-year contract for his age-34 and age-35 seasons to start afterward.
The 25-year-old Kemp signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans following the 2020 NFL Draft. He has never played in an NFL game, but at 6’6” and 317 lbs, he’s an imposing figure who started 38 games for Valdosta State between 2016 and 2019. He missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, but if the Bills are looking for a young option to coach up rather than a veteran, this is an angle they could take.
Speaking of former Titans, the team’s starting right tackle is still unsigned after making starts in every game for the club last season. He fits the prototype of a backup offensive lineman that Buffalo would sign—he can play right tackle and both guard spots, he has plenty of starting experience, and he could be flipped for a draft choice towards the end of the preseason should the Bills find themselves comfortable with the other pieces they have in reserve. Given that he’s been available for this long without finding a suitor, I imagine it’s not impossible for him to sign as a reserve.