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Replacing Buffalo Bills guards via free agency: to find a starter or a reserve?

The Bills will have options at guard this offseason

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The Buffalo Bills had a bad offensive line in 2018. There might have been some good players on said offensive line, but as a unit, the group did not perform well. Bills quarterbacks were sacked 41 times this year, 17th in the league. Bills running backs gained only 3.5 yards per attempt on the season.

Veteran guard Vladimir Ducasse began the year as the team’s starting left guard, but he ended it as a healthy scratch in the team’s final six games. He graded out at a 49.8 on the year per Pro Football Focus, leaving him as the 67th-ranked guard in the league. Ducasse is a veteran, but he is definitely a replaceable player—as he has been below-average for the better part of his tenure with the Bills.

There is no shortage of talented guards on the market, however, so I think the Bills should make every attempt to sign one who can step in and start right away. Given that Buffalo also stands to lose John Miller and Ryan Groy, who are both unrestricted free agents, it is imperative that they sign someone who can play at a high level from day one.

The full list of free agent guards is a long one, and it contains a solid mix of younger players and wily veterans. Here is a shorter list of players the Bills should definitely pursue this off-season.

Mark Glowinski

The 26-year old graded out as PFF’s 17th-best guard this season, earning a 69.8 overall grade on the year. His improved play was a big part of the reason that the Indianapolis Colts were able to keep quarterback Andrew Luck healthy. Along with Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith, the rebuilt Colts offensive line paved the way for a return to offensive glory. An unrestricted free agent for the first time, Glowinski could parlay his team’s huge season offensively into a huge payday for himself. A downside, however, is the fact that he committed five penalties in his 11 games (nine starts). A positive is that he did not allow a sack on the year. Buffalo’s new offensive line coach, Bobby Johnson, was on the Indy staff last year as assistant offensive line coach.

D.J. Fluker

The veteran had one of the best seasons of his career playing right guard for the Seattle Seahawks in 2018. If the Bills decide that Wyatt Teller can remain at left guard, then they could theoretically add Fluker to solidify the offensive line for years to come. The 28-year old Fluker graded poorly in PFF’s overall rankings (49.8 overall; guard No. 70); however, the outlet noted that he only allowed nine pressures in ten games this year. A huge negative is the number of penalties he committed last year—nine—which brought his career total to 43 penalties in 74 career games.

Rodger Saffold

The Los Angeles Rams will play in Super Bowl LIII in February, and it could be their veteran guard’s last game with the team. Saffold is 31 and coming off a season where PFF graded him as the seventh-best guard in the NFL, as he earned a 73.8 overall grade. He will certainly command a high salary, but if he is willing to travel across the country, he would add an instant boost to Buffalo’s moribund offensive line. Saffold committed six penalties and allowed two sacks this season.

Ramon Foster

The veteran has been a dominant force on the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line since 2009. He has been remarkably durable, starting 14 games or more in every season since 2011. He has continued to perform at a high level despite his advanced age (Foster just turned 33), and PFF graded his play this year at a 69.1, which was sixteenth among all guards. If the Bills could convince him to make the 215-mile drive north, giving him a two-year deal would help their offensive line tremendously. Foster only committed three penalties and allowed one sack on the season.

Matt Slauson

Another fantastic veteran, Slauson signed with the Colts this year and made it through five games before fracturing two vertebrae and landing on injured reserve. He was solid in his time in the lineup however, earning a 66.8 from PFF, which was the nineteenth-best score among guards. His injury cleared the way for Glowinski to play. Slauson is a tough guy—he finished the game in which he fractured the vertebrae, a Thursday night match-up with the New England Patriots—but he has not played a full season since 2016. At 32 years old, he would be someone to sign to an incentive-laden deal. When he is healthy, he is still among the best guards in the league. Proving that he is healthy and then staying healthy for a whole season is the difficulty here. Slauson committed one penalty and did not allow a sack last season.

Andy Levitre

It won’t happen...would it? A reunion with Buffalo’s second-round draft pick from the 2009 NFL Draft would be something, but at 32, he seems to be on the decline, as he has had his season end prematurely each of the last two years due to triceps muscle tears. When healthy, he is still a fantastic player, but like Slauson, he has missed multiple games in each of the last two seasons.


Which guard should the Bills sign to replace Vladimir Ducasse?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Mark Glowinski
    (422 votes)
  • 6%
    D.J. Fluker
    (50 votes)
  • 18%
    Rodger Saffold
    (133 votes)
  • 7%
    Ramon Foster
    (53 votes)
  • 2%
    Matt Slauson
    (16 votes)
  • 5%
    Andy Levitre
    (37 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (specify in comments)
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    None; keep Ducasse
    (2 votes)
724 votes total Vote Now