Bills should look at OT Anthony Collins

Wayne Hunter's retirement left the Buffalo Bills thin at offensive tackle. Entering training camp, the Bills would be wise to look at offensive tackle Anthony Collins.

Following Wayne Hunter’s release/retirement, the Buffalo Bills find themselves very thin at offensive tackle. As it stands, Buffalo has four tackles listed on their roster: Cordy Glenn, Cyrus Kouandjio, Seantrel Henderson and Tyson Chandler. With training camp just around the corner, Buffalo needs to add another offensive tackle who can realistically compete for a job on the 53-man roster. Who is the best available free agent for the Bills to pursue? Anthony Collins. Here are three reasons why Buffalo should sign Collins.

1. He’ll sign a prove it deal

Last season was a nightmare for Collins with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 10 starts with the Buccaneers, Collins was called for 10 penalties. According to Pro Football Focus, Collins was responsible for one sack, 14 quarterback hits and 14 quarterback hurries in his 10 starts. It wasn’t what the Buccaneers were looking for after signing Collins to a five year, $30 million contract, so the team released him following the season.

I’m sure you’re not too keen on the idea of signing Collins after reading the paragraph above, but the contract that he signed in Tampa Bay was based upon his tremendous play in Cincinnati in 2013. Two seasons ago, Collins played in 15 games (8 starts), including the playoffs, and was one of the best tackles in the league. In 673 snaps, PFF gave Collins a +13.7 rating. He was particularly strong in the passing game (+11.7) but above average in the run game as well (+1.0). Collins was only called for two penalties in 2013 and gave up no sacks. In close to 700 snaps, he only gave up one quarterback hit and 14 quarterback hurries.

Collins’ play before 2013 wasn’t as strong as his breakout season, but he was never a liability on the field either. In Buffalo, Collins would be competing for the third or fourth tackle spot, so the value is certainly there.

In late July, Collins knows he won’t be receiving big money offers, so he’s likely to take a one-year deal to prove himself to the league.

2. He’s the best available tackle

Seriously, have you looked at the free agent tackles left? It’s slim pickings in the bargain bin. Collins and Jake Long are probably the only two notable names out there. Long is coming off of his second ACL tear, so there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding him but he’s another option. That said, Collins is a much safer option and the best available tackle on the market.

Collins isn’t perfect. Buffalo wants to be a run-first team and Collins is much better in pass protection. That said, beggars can’t be choosers this close to training camp.

3. Collins provides depth at tackle and guard

Buffalo’s starting offensive line will look something like this:

Cordy Glenn

John Miller

Eric Wood

Richie Incognito

Cyrus Kouandjio/Seantrel Henderson

LT

LG

C

RG

RT

 

It looks decent on paper and is certainly an upgrade from last year, but depth is a concern. The lack of tackle depth has already been discussed but it’s also an issue at guard.

Cyril Richardson and Chris Williams will compete for reserve spots, but both struggled quite a bit in 2014. That said, this offense does suit Richardson’s skill-set better. Kraig Urbik will likely be safe as he’s technically the backup center and can play guard. Behind this trio are four relative unknowns (William Campbell, Darryl Johnson, Alex Kupper, D.J. Morrell). Until they prove themselves at training camp, it’s tough to feel confident about the depth along Buffalo’s offensive line.

Signing Collins would not only upgrade Buffalo’s depth at tackle, but he can contribute at guard as well. In his career, Collins has rotated between tackle and guard.

Training camp at St. John Fisher begins on July 31. With the start of camp approaching quickly, the Bills would be wise to call Collins and kick the tires on the offensive tackle.


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