With all the ongoing commotion about the NFL draft and unrestricted free agency, many analysts often overlook the importance of teams retaining their own restricted free agents.
Restricted free agents often don’t make nearly the same kind of splash that unrestricted free agents do. These are players who have served three years in the league at an often indistinguishably mediocre performance rate. They hover under the radar—except for in their own team’s city—and largely play serviceable, yet non-crucial, roles for their organizations.
But hanging on to a young talent could mean a world of difference for an NFL club’s future.
On Sunday, BuffaloBills.com’s Chris Brown reported that the Bills plan to extend offers to guards Kraig Urbik and Chad Rinehart. The Bills already reportedly finalized a three-year deal with long-snapper Garrison Sanborn.
The move to retain these interior linemen should excite Bills fans.
Urbik stepped up and played admirably last year as the Bills’ starting right guard. Assistant GM Doug Whaley, formerly of Pittsburgh, was familiar with Urbik when he was with the Steelers. The Bills snagged him off waivers, and the move proved to be a smart one.
Not only did the 6’5”, 329-pound lineman serve as the starting right guard for Buffalo, he also filled in for injured center Eric Wood later in the year. Urbik’s physicality and versatility make him a bargain as a restricted free agent. The fact that Buffalo plans to retain him should be refreshing, as they continue to build depth from the inside out.
Chad Rinehart proved to be a valuable swingman for the Bills in 2011, plugging in consistently for injured starters and rotating in and out of different positions on the offensive line. In fact, Rinehart battled left guard Andy Levitre for a starting role prior to the 2011 season, but was ultimately beat out by Levitre..
Rinehart (6’5”, 323 pounds) is an athletic lineman with quality footwork. He’s a tenacious run-blocker who excels at getting to the second level. He proved to be an asset by playing all interior line positions last year, and his physicality is right in line with what the Bills are trying to establish offensively—toughness.
Retaining both Urbik and Rinehart would be an excellent move for Buffalo, as they are trying to establish consistency and depth across the board. These two players are versatile and can play all interior positions, which gives the Bills flexibility.
Each player would come at a reasonable price, and the payoff could be more than most expect.