Bills Starter in Hot Seat Amid Move to Sign ‘Valuable’ Tackle: Report

Brandon Shell, Spender Brown

Getty The Bills are working to to finalize a deal to sign former Dolphins tackle Brandon Shell (L), who will provide major competition for Spencer Brown (R).

The Buffalo Bills continued working on their offseason goal of finding ways to better protect quarterback Josh Allen. On Monday, May 29, NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe was the first to break the news that they were moving to sign right tackle Brandon Shell.

While Shell is projected as a backup, the move firmly places the Bills’ projected starter Spencer Brown in the hot seat. Wolfe tweeted, “Bills are finalizing a one-year deal with veteran OT Brandon Shell, per source. Shell has 72 NFL starts including 11 last season for Dolphins. Provides proven depth for Buffalo.”

New York Upstate‘s Ryan Talbot wrote, “Bills GM Brandon Beane has expressed a lot of confidence in Spencer Brown, but the team lacked actual competition for the right tackle following the draft. Shell changes this as he’s proven to be a viable starter in his career. If Brown struggles on the field or with injuries, Buffalo could turn to Shell.”

SB Nation’s Bruce Nolan approved the pending new addition. Nolan tweeted, “Exactly the free agent signing I was hoping to see tbh,” while Locked on Bills podcast host Joe Marino wrote, “First new addition the Bills have made this offseason at OT. Needed more competition there in a critical season for Spencer Brown. Shell has started at least 10 games in every season since 2017. Good pick up.”

Shell, a former fifth-round pick from the 2016 NFL Draft, spent the first four seasons of his career with the New York Jets where he made 40 starts before signing with Seattle Seahawks in 2020. The 31-year-old started 21 games for the Seahawks over two seasons before moving to sign with the Dolphins last year.

The 6-foot-5, 234-pounder, earned an impressive 75.9 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus last season, however, his pass blocking grade (51.7), isn’t great. However, he allowed just two sacks and four penalties in 761 snaps.

‘All Excuses are Eliminated’ When It Comes to Spencer Brown

Spencer Brown

GettyBills right tackle Spencer Brown spikes the ball at Highmark Stadium on December 19, 2021.

When OTAs kicked off last week, The Athletic‘s Joe Buscaglia wrote about the near non-existent competition at right tackle. “All offseason, the Bills made their feelings on right tackle Spencer Brown known. They stuck up for some of his early-season challenges, trumpeted how well they thought he played late in the year and remained bullish on what he could become. Their actions matched those words, as they didn’t add a new piece to their offensive tackle room.”

Before moving to sign Shell, the Bills re-signed right tackle David Quessenberry, who started just three games in 16 appearances last season and is very much a depth piece. He earned a 62.3 pass blocking grade and a 53.7 run-blocking grade from PFF.

“The Bills repeatedly mention is the right tackle having offseason back surgery last year, curtailing some of his early-year progress,” but “now for Brown, all excuses are eliminated,” Buscaglia wrote. “He’s in his third season. The Bills have backed up his potential repeatedly, and now he needs to deliver consistency paired with the good flashes from his first two seasons… The deck is stacked in his favor, and this spring will be a good chance to see some of his progress from last year.”

Dolphins Analysts & Fans Were Frustrated to See Brandon Shell Exit for Buffalo

After news of Shell’s pending exit was announced, Dolphins fans and analysts were not thrilled. One Fins fan simply tweeted, “Pain,” while another shared, “Why! I have to admit I really wanted this guy!”

Dolphins Wire reporter Mike Masala was surprised by the move. He wrote of Shell, “It’s interesting that [Dolphins head coach] Mike McDaniel and [general manager] Chris Grier didn’t bring him back to at least compete with Austin Jackson, Isaiah Wynn and Cedric Ogbuehi for the right tackle job this upcoming year, as he looked solid in his starts last season.”

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