March 23rd, 2021 at 1:56pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
It looks like Quinton Spain is headed back to Cincinnati. The veteran offensive lineman is finalizing a one-year deal with the Bengals, a source told Tyler Dragon of Cincinnati.com (Twitter link).
Moments before Spain had alluded to the deal on social media, tweeting “prove it year again I been there before I know how to handle it,” a reference to the short-term nature of the pact. Spain signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent back in 2015, and immediately made an impact in Tennessee. He started six games at guard as a rookie, then became a full-time starter in 2016.
He started 42 games for them from 2016-18, then signed with the Bills for 2019. He started all 16 games for Buffalo that season, and got a three-year, $15MM extension from them around this time last year. He didn’t make it very far into that deal, as he was benched just a couple of games into the 2020 season and then cut in October.
Cincinnati scooped him up, and he ended up starting eight games for them down the stretch. He’ll turn 30 in August. He played solid enough for the Bengals, who are looking to remake Joe Burrow‘s protection this offseason. They recently signed Riley Reiff to be their new starting right tackle, and have been connected to franchise left tackles like Oregon’s Penei Sewell in next month’s draft.
The Bengals’ offensive line was a major question mark going into the 2020 season, and the fear was that poor blocking would jeopardize the health of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. And then that fear became reality, as Burrow suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Week 11 and the silver lining of another lost season in Cincinnati was quickly tarnished. So, a year after Cincinnati committed significant free agent dollars to the defensive side of the ball while relying on its existing offensive linemen to develop, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic says the team appears poised to reverse a long-standing trend and to spend big on the O-line.
Jonah Williams will remain the starting left tackle, but the other four spots are up for grabs. There is some hope that the return of O-line coach Frank Pollack will help left guard Michael Jordan, but after Jordan’s poor performance in 2020, it would not be at all surprising to see the Bengals pursue an upgrade (though the team has been historically reluctant to make major investments at guard).
The ACL injury that center Trey Hopkinssustained in the team’s regular season finale could mean that former first-rounder Billy Pricewill get one more chance to prove himself as a starting pivot, but again, after seeing Burrow writhing on the ground in pain, Cincy could seek reinforcements on the open market.
If the team does make a major free agent splash, it would likely come at right tackle, where Taylor Moton may be available. The Panthers might put the franchise tag on Moton, but if that doesn’t happen, expect the Bengals to be an active bidder for his services. Dehner also suggests that, if the team finally opens up its wallet for a guard, Joe Thuney would appear to be a perfect fit.
Whether it’s through free agency, the draft, or some combination thereof, Cincinnati has to do something. The club does want to re-sign Quinton Spain, who helped provide some stability at guard after he signed with the Bengals in October, and right tackle Bobby Hart is expected to be released, which will open up $6MM in cap space and a spot for a quality free agent. B.J. Finney, who came over from Seattle in the Carlos Dunlap trade, is also unlikely to return.
There is plenty of young skill position talent in the Queen City. With a couple of additions to the O-line, the Bengals’ offense could well be a serious threat in 2021 and beyond.
Joe Mixon‘s recovery from a foot injury has not gone as expected. And the process hit another snag Saturday.
The Bengals placed their standout running back on IR, sidelining him for at least the next three games. The earliest Mixon can now return is Week 14. He has not played since Week 6.
This has marked by far the longest absence of the former Round 2 pick’s career. He entered the season having missed four combined games in three years. Mixon, however, did well to secure an extension — a four-year, $48MM pact — from the Bengals before encountering an injury-marred fourth season.
While the Bengals have continually delayed Mixon’s return timetable, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (via Twitter) this latest setback does not mean they will shelve their starter until 2021. Mixon is expected to return when first eligible — in three weeks.
Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine stand to continue to serve as Cincinnati’s primary backfield presences in Mixon’s absence. The Bengals have given Bernard, a 2013 second-round pick, two extensions. The second of which, in 2019, was an agreement to keep serving as Mixon’s backup. Both Mixon and Bernard are averaging 3.6 yards per carry behind an embattled Bengals offensive line. Mixon surpassed 1,100 rushing yards in 2018 and ’19, despite substandard Cincy O-lines.
Takkarist McKinley will not make his Bengals debut this week, needing to go through the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol. But the team will have a key pass rusher in uniform after some time away.
The Bengals activated Sam Hubbard from IR Saturday. The third-year defensive end has missed the past three games because of an elbow injury.
Cincinnati also moved John Ross to its IR list. While Ross has not been active since Week 6 and has not caught a pass since Week 1, he has run into multiple injury issues during another disappointing season. After a foot injury shelved him recently, more foot trouble emerged in practice this week, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
This setback came shortly after Bengals coaches had a conversation with Ross about working as a cornerback, Garafolo notes, but the injury came on a play in which Ross was playing his usual position. None of this is good for a player who joined the Bengals as a top-10 pick.
The team did not pick up Ross’ option and has not featured him prominently this season, using younger players Tee Higgins and Auden Tate over Ross. While Ross requested a trade, the Bengals did not move him. Ross’ contract expires at season’s end. The Combine’s 40-yard dash record holder is not on track to enter free agency with much momentum.
Hubbard will return to a defensive line that no longer houses Carlos Dunlap, whom the Bengals traded during Hubbard’s injury hiatus. Hubbard will rejoin Carl Lawson in Cincy’s lineup, while McKinley — added on waivers this week — is set to join the incumbents next week.
The signing was anticipated, and Spain is in line to make his Bengals debut. He will beat fellow offensive line newcomer B.J. Finneyto that punch, with the latter still in the COVID-19 protocol after changing cities.
Spain started every game for the Bills last season, helping their run game transform from one of the NFL’s worst in 2018 to a top-10 attack. The Bills re-signed him to a three-year, $15MM deal in the offseason, only to cut him in October after he was leapfrogged by other guards. All in all, Spain has started 66 career games, working as a first-stringer for the Titans and Bills since 2015.
The Bengals’ visit with Quinton Spain will likely lead to a signing. The veteran guard has been going through coronavirus testing protocols and is on track to sign with the Bengals, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
This marks a key week for Cincinnati’s offensive line. The Bengals will soon have Spain and B.J. Finney on their roster. They acquired Finney, a former Steelers center, from the Seahawks in Wednesday’s Carlos Dunlap deal.
Spain started every game for the Bills last season, helping their run game transform from one of the NFL’s worst in 2018 to a top-10 attack. The Bills cut Spain this year, however, turning to new guards. Spain has started 66 career games, working as a first-stringer for the Titans and Bills since 2015.
The Bengals have seen Joe Burrow pressured constantly this season. He has taken an NFL-high 28 sacks. Left tackle Jonah Williams, right tackle Bobby Hart and center Trey Hopkins did not practice Wednesday due to injury, creating an even bigger need for the rebuilding team.
Cincinnati’s offensive line has been a disaster, and the team needs to do something to protect rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow, who has looked good in his first professional season, but who has been sacked 19 times through six games. Though Burrow has made some youthful mistakes in holding onto the ball too long on occasion, Football Outsiders’ advanced metrics indicate that the Bengals’ O-line is among the worst in terms of both pass-blocking and run-blocking.
Enter Spain, who has started 66 games at left guard and who has established a reputation of being a strong pass blocker. Though the 29-year-old lost his starting job with Buffalo this year, the Bills did think highly enough of him to give him a three-year, $15MM deal this offseason. Though he may not be a top-tier protector, he would certainly be a welcome addition to the Bengals’ offensive front.
Second-year pro Michael Jordan has played every snap for the club at LG thus far, but he has struggled, particularly in pass-blocking.
October 21st, 2020 at 12:22pm CST by Zachary Links
The Bills have released guard Quinton Spain, per a club announcement. Effectively a full-time starter for four straight seasons, Spain now finds himself on the open market in the middle of the season.
Spain, 29, was slated to be a free agent in March before he re-upped with Buffalo on a three-year, $15MM deal. Although he wasn’t a world-beater like fellow free agents like Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney, the Bills wanted to lock him up for the long haul.
Buffalo made its offensive line a priority in 2019, adding free agents Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe, and Spencer Long and second-round draft pick Cody Ford, in addition to Spain. A former undrafted free agent, Spain spent the first four years and 48 starts of his career with the Titans. In ’19, Spain started all 16 games for the first time in his NFL tenure, grading as the league’s No. 59 guard among 80 qualifiers per Pro Football Focus. Spain and the other reinforcements helped the Bills’ running game, as Buffalo improved from 30th in Football Outsiders‘ 2018 run-blocking metrics to 16th last season.
This year, Spain lost his starting gig to Cody Ford. Then, he suffered a foot injury, costing him the last two games. The Bills will forge ahead with Ford at LG and Brian Winters at RG with support from Ike Boettger and Ryan Bates.
The Bills have extended guard Quinton Spain on a three-year, $15MM deal, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
Spain would have reached the open market next week, but he likely would have been viewed as a second-tier option behind other guards such as Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney. Instead, the 28-year-old will take immediate financial security in order to commit to three more years in Buffalo.
A former undrafted free agent, Spain spent the first four years and 48 starts of his career with the Titans before signing a one-year, $2.05MM pact with the Bills last offseason. In 2019, Spain started all 16 games for the first time in his NFL tenure, grading as the league’s No. 59 guard among 80 qualifiers per Pro Football Focus.
Bill Belichick did something he had never done before when he drafted N’Keal Harry 32nd overall in April. During his time in New England, the Patriots had never drafted a receiver in the first round before, so they must’ve been high on the Arizona State product. That being said, Harry won’t be handed anything because of his draft status. Plenty of receivers have come and gone without making much of an impact on the Pats, so Nick Underhill of The Athletic tracked a few of them down to see what advice they might have for Harry.
Underhill talked to 2006 second-round pick Chad Jackson, 2004 fifth-round pick P.K. Sam, and Chad Johnson, who joined the team toward the end of his career in 2011. Underhill asked them about their advice for working with Belichick and Brady and Jackson, one of the Patriots’ biggest draft busts, had some interesting comments. “Some people say Brady’s an asshole, and he can be at times – everybody can be an asshole at times,” he said. “The guy wants perfection. He wants everything done right. I’m sure he makes his mistakes too, but it’s not like everybody else.”
Jackson said Harry will have to be prepared for a lot, and that he wasn’t ready for it. “I think I went to the wrong organization when I first got drafted,” he said. “They expected a lot from you, which is, of course, OK, but I think they put the expectations a little bit higher than for any type of rookie coming in.” All of them stressed that developing a chemistry and a relationship with Brady were important, with Johnson saying he “didn’t really have time to come in and build that currency with Tom.” The whole piece is worth a read, and provides an interesting glimpse into life on the Patriots. Harry should have an easier time than any of those three did, but it’s not a given.
Here’s more from around the AFC:
The Bills made overhauling their offensive line a priority this offseason. Josh Allen spent most of his rookie year running for his life, so it makes sense. The team made some high profile signings like Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe, and Spencer Long, but they also added Quinton Spain. Spain is competing for a starting spot at one of the two guard positions, and his cause got hurt by a thumb injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the rest of spring practices. Fortunately for him, Spain is expected to be ready to go for the start of training camp, per Nate Mendelson of the team’s official site. Spain entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Titans back in 2015, and started at least 13 games in each of the past three years for them. He received average marks from Pro Football Focus last year, grading out as their 35th-best guard. Spain is probably a favorite to win a starting job, and Buffalo’s offensive line looks on paper to be a lot better than it was last year.
Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers‘ longtime right tackle, was traded to the Cardinals this spring. That means the Steelers will have a new right tackle, and most have assumed it’ll be Matt Feiler. Feiler filled in for an injured Gilbert, and ended up starting ten games last year. But while he’s the favorite, Feiler isn’t taking it for granted and is insisting it’ll be an open competition. “I’m not by any means the starter,” Feiler said earlier this offseason, per Mike Prisuta of the team’s official site. “Anytime you’re out here, you’re getting pushed by the younger guys.” “It’s up for grabs,” he added. “It’s going to be a tough battle.” While the comments are interesting and suggest we may have to pay attention to the position in camp, it would still be a surprise if Feiler isn’t starting Week 1. While he took the majority of first-team reps, Prisuta does note that he rotated some with 2018 third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor during spring work. Feiler is a 2014 undrafted free agent from Bloomsburg University, who had only started one game before last year.