Should the Vikings Pursue Former Bills Guard Quinton Spain?
The Bills made a surprising move on Wednesday by releasing guard Quinton Spain, a reliable veteran who started all 16 games for them last season without allowing a sack and signed a three-year, $15 million extension this offseason. Spain has been dealing with some injuries this year that kept him out of the lineup over the past couple weeks, but it's still interesting to see the Bills make the decision to part ways with him early in a season where they look like favorites to win the AFC East.
There might be more going on there, as Spain tweeted "time for a change" and also deleted a tweet saying "if only they knew the real reason."
Regardless, the release of Spain caught some eyes on Vikings Twitter. The Vikings have had the worst guard situation in the NFL this season, and it's quite possible that it has directly cost them wins so far during a 1-5 start. Dakota Dozier has been predictably mediocre at left guard, while the Vikings have already played three guys – Pat Elflein, Dru Samia, and Ezra Cleveland – at right guard in six games. Samia was historically awful, but Elflein and Cleveland weren't much better.
Spain would be a great addition for any team in need of interior offensive line help. After going undrafted out of West Virginia in 2015, he spent four years with the Titans before joining the Bills. Spain has made 66 career starts and has always been a stout pass protector on the interior.
Guess what? No one needs IOL help more than the Vikings do. There have been plenty of tweets suggesting that Minnesota make a move for the 29-year-old. He has the athleticism to fit their scheme and would instantly become the best interior pass protector the team has had in several years.
Here's the thing: I don't think it makes much sense for the Vikings to go after Spain, for a couple of reasons. The most obvious one is that they just don't have any cap space right now. Spain is an accomplished veteran who was making roughly $4 million this year, and he's not going to sign somewhere for much less than that.
But if the Vikings really wanted to, they could create cap space. The more important reason why I don't think signing Spain makes sense is that this is a lost season that should be about prioritizing the evaluation and development of young players for the future. Spain would make the team better right now, but what good does that do? The 1-5 Vikings have no shot at competing for a playoff spot.
Instead of adding a veteran who could maybe help them go 5-5 the rest of the season, the Vikings should be focusing on seeing what they have in some of the young players already on the roster. That means Cleveland should be starting the rest of the year, whether that's at guard or at left tackle after a trade of Riley Reiff. It means they should bench Dozier and play guys like Elflein or Oli Udoh or even practice squad rookie Kyle Hinton at guard. If they're going to add anyone, it should be an intriguing young player buried on someone's depth chart or practice squad, not a 29-year-old veteran who presumably wants to play for a contender anyways.
I understand why Vikings fans might want Spain. And if this team were 3-3 or even 2-4, I could get behind adding him and trying to turn things around in the second half. But the loss to the Falcons made it crystal clear that the Vikings have no shot at reaching the postseason. It's time to start trading veterans and looking ahead towards next year, and signing Spain doesn't fit into that plan.
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