Sources indicate to the Buffalo Fanatics that Buffalo Bills starting right guard Jon Feliciano will be undergoing surgery today and that his 2020 season is in serious doubt.
Not many people had high hopes for Jon Feliciano when he signed a two year contract with the Buffalo Bills last off-season. He quickly rose the depth chart during training camp and started all 16 games for the Buffalo Bills at right guard in 2019. In the process Feliciano became a fan favorite for the mean streak he brought to the field and his engagement with fans on social media. He was slotted to once again be atop the depth chart but this injury could derail those plans.
While we wish no ill will upon any player, the Buffalo Bills were lucky to have their first serious injury of the season come at a position that is so deep. Below here we will assess the Bills options to replace Jon Feliciano at right guard.
Williams was once a promising young offensive lineman for Brandon beane and the Carolina Panthers before injuries derailed his career. Williams was an above average starter just a few seasons ago at right tackle. Many people in the pre-draft process believed Beane likely saw a lot of Williams in 2nd round pick Cody Ford. While Williams struggled last season being strewn across the Panthers patchwork offensive line Beane was quick to defend him after coming to an agreement with the free agent lineman. he told reporters Williams was playing out of position on the left side and would be better suited returning to the right side. Now Williams will have an opportunity to regain his form in the starting lineup and will likely be given the first crack at the starting right guard job in order to keep Ford at right tackle.
Long came to Buffalo last off-season looking for redemption. After playing well in Washington Long struggled to find his footing as a center in New York with the Jets. Once her arrived in Buffalo he earned the role of back-up interior offensive lineman. However, whenever Morse went out of the game Feliciano always kicked in to center and Long played guard. When on the field he was the definition of average. That may be okay for the Bills for a game or two, but they will likely give the higher ceiling payer in Williams the opportunity to start before Long. The question then becomes whether or not Long is elevated to the second center position directly behind Morse on the depth chart.
Evan Boehm & Ryan Bates
That is where the free agent Evan Boehm and second year man Ryan Bates come into play. Boehm has the ability to possibly push Long for the number one back-up job because he can not only hold down the fort at guard but he would likely hold up better at center as well. This website has mused on a number of occasions that Boehm could make Long a trade bait candidate. It is likelier now that both will stay with Boehm acting as the backup center and third string guard behind Spain, Williams, and Long.
Bates has the flexibility to play all five positions on the offensive line. The Bills seemed most comfortable with him at center. With the league mandating 8 offensive lineman on the active roster this season Bates’s has a much more elevated chance of becoming the ninth or tenth guy the Bills keep with Feliciano out of the picture. His center experience will give him a leg up on the competition.
The Buffalo Bills will most likely continue with their development of Cody Ford as a right tackle. However this injury does at least open up the possibility of Ford kicking inside and either Daryl Williams or Ty Nsekhe manning the right tackle job.
Jon Feliciano was an elite utility piece to have on the roster. He was an average guard that surrounded by good players can excel with flexibility to back-up the second most important position on the offense, center. His presence will be sorely missed.
Feliciano’s contract expires at season’s end. It is possible he could “opt-out” of 2020 and carry his contract into next season. It is also likely a lack of on field production in 2020 will limit his offers in free agency. In a weird way this injury almost increases the likelihood the Buffalo Bills are able to retain his services beyond 2020.