The Buffalo Bills spent plenty of capital, both in terms of free-agent dollars and draft choices, on the interior offensive line this offseason. The Bills added five new faces at guard in the spring and early summer, yet they added just one big offensive tackle. Sure, there were a few minor signings, but the team basically showed its hand as to the players it thinks will start next year.
If Bills are going to stay with the status quo at offensive tackle, does it mean that they’re going to deploy the same reserves, as well? That’s where things become a little murkier. That one major tackle signing is a great depth piece, and his addition could push at least one returning reserve off the roster in 2023.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one of those returning reserves — a player fighting for a roster spot while also fighting his way back from a major injury.
Name: Tommy Doyle
Height/Weight: 6’8”, 320 pounds
Age: 25 (26 on 5/6/2024)
Experience/Draft: 3; selected by Buffalo in the fifth round (No. 161 overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft
College: Miami (OH)
Acquired: Fifth-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Doyle enters the third year of his rookie contract, a four-year pact worth $3,795,724 overall. For the 2023 season, he carries a cap hit of $1,018,931 if he makes the roster. Buffalo is responsible for a dead-cap charge of $157,862 if he’s released.
2022 Recap: After participating in 11 games as a rookie in 2021, Doyle seemed poised to take on a bigger role heading into his second year — or perhaps at least a more diverse one. Doyle cross-trained at guard for the entire offseason, and he played in preseason games at both tackle and guard after playing both spots in camp. He actually played more on the inside than he did on the outside, and while the team didn’t officially change his position on the roster to guard, it seemed as if that’s how they viewed him last season. He missed the first two games while dealing with a foot injury he suffered in the preseason, but after he regained full health, he was active in Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins. Doyle finished the game as the right guard. Buffalo was already down Mitch Morse that day, and when replacement Greg Van Roten was injured, Doyle came in. Buffalo had to keep re-shuffling the offensive line that day, as Ryan Bates was hurt during the game, as well. In all, each of the eight offensive linemen who were active that day appeared in at least 25% of the team’s offensive snaps. Doyle, for his part, played on 40% of the snaps on offense. At some point along the way, he suffered a torn ACL, and given that he was on the field for the game’s final play, we know that he played with that ligament tear on the Bills’ final drive. The injury ended his season after just that one game.
Positional outlook: Doyle is one of eight offensive tackles on the roster, joining Dion Dawkins, Spencer Brown, David Quessenberry, Brandon Shell, Alec Anderson, Richard Gouraige, and Ryan Van Demark.
2023 Offseason: Doyle worked in team drills during minicamp in June, so he appears to be on track for a full training camp and preseason slate.
2023 Season outlook: Doyle was the second of two offensive tackles Buffalo drafted in 2021, joining Spencer Brown as gargantuan tackles looking to make the squad as rookies. They’ve both been with the team and on the 53-man roster since, but Doyle’s spot could be in jeopardy this year. Even with his cross-training at guard,
Buffalo improved their interior offensive line group tremendously this summer, adding O’Cyrus Torrence through the draft and signing free agents David Edwards and Connor McGovern. That inside group also includes Ike Boettger, Nick Broecker, Greg Mancz, Ryan Bates, and Mitch Morse, so Doyle would have a hard time finding time on the inside. With the team bringing in Brandon Shell to provide veteran depth, it just gives Doyle another competitor in the race for a roster spot.
I think that the race for that last spot may be between Doyle and Quessenberry, and part of the determining factor in who remains on the squad could come down to which player fetches better trade value. Doyle is somewhere between the eighth and the tenth offensive lineman in camp, I think, and that puts him firmly on the bubble moving forward.