The Bills have a major decision to make regarding starting left guard Richie Incognito. Whaley has said that he and Cordy Glenn are the priorities this off-season and I totally agree. But it has been rumored that Richie’s play this past season earned him one more lucrative contract in the ball park of 4-5 million dollars a year. More than likely a 2 year deal due to Richie being 32 years old.
There is no doubt that he outperformed our expectations of him. He was a top three guard in the league in 2015. But with the Bills in a tight cap situation, would they be wise to let him test the market? It could show the Bills his true value.
But whether or not they decide to let him walk, there is one player that is hitting the market that is a logical fit in the Bills’ offense. Guard Alex Boone is an unrestricted free agent that played in San Francisco under offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
Boone is 6’8″ 300 pounds and when healthy he was a solid starting guard. He is a younger player than Incognito, only 28 years old. Besides having played in the system he may come at a lower or equal price-point to Richie because he was placed on injured reserve in 2015 due to an MCL sprain. Could he be offered a prove it deal? Maybe, but my guess is that he will get decent free agent guard money.
The other reason why he would be a great free agent target is his versatility. He has played tackle and guard. After playing right guard the previous 3 seasons Boone was moved to left guard in 2015.
According to his former offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, moving Boone created versatility in the offensive line.
Do I think he should replace Richie? No, I think the Bills should re-sign Incognito. But if the price for Richie is too steep to resign him, and I don’t think it will be, Boone could be brought in. Basically, Boone is a possibility if Richie decides to go play somewhere else.
In 2015 Boone’s cap hit was $3.7 million dollars. He is hitting free agency coming off a MCL sprain. He played in 13 games in 2015. His body of work and reputation in the league has been established. He has played in 77 career games from 2010-2015, so injuries were not much of a concern up until last year.
Check out Boone’s advanced statistics versus Richie Incognito’s and John Miller’s from 2015 according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).
So you can see that Boone statistically didn’t play up to Incognito in the run game according to PFF. But keep in mind that he was in a new system out in San Francisco and played left guard instead of right guard. Here are his stats from 2014 to get an idea on what type of player he was in Roman’s system.
I am unable to display his PFF grades for 2014 because the site doesn’t show historical grades. But after looking at their cumulative statistics on Boone from 2014, I will say that 2015 was the only year that Boone was graded negatively in run blocking. In 2015 he finished as a -5.4 in run blocking where as in 2014 he finished at 3.9 which according to PFF’s scale is decent. So I think his run blocking from the guard position in the Bills’ offense will be just as solid as prior years. If you don’t believe me just watch some of the film below.
On this play watch him fire out nice and low, and once he is fully engaged he overpowers the defensive lineman.
Another display of power by Boone from the left guard position in 2015.
Boone leading the power run left. He has the athletic ability to lead plays outside as well as any guard in the league.
Watch how nimble his feet are and how his long arms lock onto the rusher.
There are times where Boone has the punch and power you want to see from a guard, but he doesn’t stay fully engaged.
Counter weak pull.
Another play where he pulls but doesn’t lock onto the defender.
Here is a play from 2015. He did a good job of mirroring the rusher then locking on.
The Bills have some major offensive line concerns if they don’t sign Glenn and Richie. The whole draft plan will depend upon Glenn signing but it will also hinge upon what they choose to do with Incognito. He should definitely be re-signed but what is his market value? Boone is a player that fits this scheme and maybe the budget. But until the value for Richie and his status with the team are figured out, the Bills will be in hot standby mode. I think both players have similar mentalities and strengths, but Boone is younger. If Richie leaves, I expect Boone to be the first person called by Buffalo.
For other Free Agent possibilities click here: