Buffalo Bills tackle Spencer Brown was expected to face a battle for his job after the team signed veteran tackle Brandon Shell in the offseason, but Brown was able to hold onto the job after Shell’s surprise retirement during training camp.
But Brown could soon face a new challenge for his spot in the starting lineup, a report predicts. Pro Football Network’s Dallas Robinson pegged the Bills as a top contender to sign veteran lineman La’el Collins after he was released by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Collins’ release came as a surprise to many close to the team, SI.com’s James Rapien reported, and a number of teams have reportedly expressed interest in signing him.
Bills Could Replace Spencer Brown
As Robinson noted, Brown was projected to be a weak link of the Bills’ offensive line and “lived up to that description against the Jets in Week 1, allowing five of the 17 pressures surrendered by the Bills while also committing a false start.”
Signing Collins could give the Bills a significant upgrade over Brown, Robinson added.
“Buffalo worked to improve its interior offensive line this offseason by signing free agent Connor McGovern and using a second-round pick on O’Cyrus Torrence,” he wrote. “Now, they could have the opportunity to bolster their tackle depth chart by adding Collins in-season.”
The Bills added some depth to their line by signing veteran Germain Ifedi after his release by the Detroit Lions, but could add a more accomplished and versatile player in the Pro Bowler Collins.
Bills Could Have Competition for La’el Collins
If the Bills do have interest in Collins, they could have to beat out some tough competition in order to land him. NFL reporter Jordan Schultz reported that “nearly a dozen teams” have expressed interest in the new free agent.
Some have been open in their attempts to recruit Collins. New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott, who played with Collins on the Dallas Cowboys, said Collins would be more than welcome in New England.
“I would love to see LC here,” Elliott said, via Boston.com. “LC is one of my best friends. We’re super close, and it would be great to get him up here.”
Collins started 15 games for the Bengals last season before his season came to an end with a torn ACL suffered on Christmas Eve against the Patriots. Collins had remained on the physically unable to perfom list through training camp and the first week of the season, and was released on September 12.
As Rapien explained, the Bengals had a few reasons for parting ways with Collins — namely the cap savings that his release will now bring them.
“They save $7.4 million in cap space this season, unless they gave Collins an injury settlement. If they did, they still cleared $6.2 million in cap room,” Rapien wrote.
“That gives them added flexibility after signing Trey Hendrickson, Logan Wilson and most notably Joe Burrow—to contract extensions over the past six weeks. The Bengals now have roughly $12 million in room, which is fifth in the NFL according to OverTheCap.com.”