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Buffalo Bills free agent guard John Miller contract projection

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What should Buffalo expect to pay John Miller?

The Buffalo Bills have holes to fill all over their offensive line. Left tackle Dion Dawkins and center Russell Bodine were sub-par in 2018 while rookie Wyatt Teller was underwhelming. The bigger problem comes at right guard and right tackle, where John Miller and Jordan Mills are both free agents.

Miller has a strange journey so far in his NFL career. He started 28 games over his first two NFL seasons, emerging from the 2015 NFL Draft to become the opening-day starter. Then he was relegated to the bench during his third season when Sean McDermott became the Bills head coach. Under offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, Miller’s skill set fell out of favor. After Dennison was fired, he was re-inserted into the starting lineup under coordinator Brian Daboll.

So where exactly does he stand heading into free agency? Should he be considered a starter? A depth player?

Comparable contracts

Michael Schofield
Los Angeles Chargers
Signed a two-year, $5 million contract in 2018

Schofield didn’t start his first game until his second season, and began his career at tackle. Then he flipped inside to guard during his third season. He was waived by the Denver Broncos prior to his fourth season, but landed with the Los Angeles Chargers. He started five games at tackle in 2017 before they re-signed him on his current two-year deal to be their right guard.

Like Miller, he fell out of favor for a while and dealt with setbacks. He’s a borderline starter/reserve player, or at least he was when he signed, and he was about the same age as Miller. He has the ability to swing out to tackle, though, so that adds some value.

Joe Looney
Dallas Cowboys
Signed a two-year, $2.1 million contract in 2018

Following his rookie contract, Looney signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a depth option on their offensive line, starting just three games in two seasons. He re-signed in Dallas following the 2017 season to backup money but ended up being their starting center in 2018. He had fewer career starts than Miller when he signed his current deal.

Billy Turner
Denver Broncos
Signed a one-year, $2 million contract in 2018

Turner started 14 games for the Miami Dolphins in 2015 and 2016 before being released and claimed by the Denver Broncos. He played in just one game for them in 2017 before re-signing. He started 11 games in 2018 at guard and tackle, filling in after injuries. He is what Mile High Report called a “serviceable guard.”

Contract Projection

If I’m the Bills, I offer Miller Vlad Ducasse money because I’m probably only keeping one of them around. Ducasse is set to make $2 million in 2019, the final year of his contract. That number is mostly in line with the other contracts listed above, which value marginal starting guards at just over $2 million per season.

Two years, $4.8 million including $500,000 signing bonus

2019
Pro-rated signing bonus: $250,000
Salary: $2 million
Cap hit: $2.25 million

2020
Pro-rated signing bonus: $250,000
Salary: $2.3 million
Cap hit: $2.55 million