The Buffalo Bills were busy once again Thursday, securing their fourth free agent deal this week with the signing of guard/center Fernando Velasco. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but it’s likely to be a 1-year deal.
Fernando Velasco Background
A former undrafted free agent out of Georgia, the seven-year veteran has spent time with Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Carolina thus far in his career.
Picked up by the Titans following the 2008 NFL Draft, Fernando Velasco spent the duration of his rookie campaign on Tennessee’s practice squad after failing to make the 53-man roster in training camp. After being active for just one game in 2009, Velasco found himself active for 48 consecutive games in the three seasons that followed, which included 16 straight starts at center in 2012 — his final season in Nashville.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 310-pound lineman moved on to play for Pittsburgh in 2013 where he made 11 starts combined at guard and center.
Velasco helped the Steelers to an 8-8 record that year, but the two sides moved on from one another in the offseason, and the former Georgia Bulldog wound up signing with the Carolina Panthers subsequently.
The now 31-year-old has since spent the past two seasons with Carolina, appearing in 23 games and making eight starts while serving mainly as a backup center/guard.
He appeared in 10 games (102 snaps) and made one start during the Panthers’ Super Bowl run last season.
For his career, Velasco has made 38 starts in the 83 total games he’s appeared in.
Where does Fernando Velasco Fit In?
Despite bouncing around a bit in his NFL career, the newest Bill is a capable lineman who brings plenty of experience to a Buffalo offensive line that lacks depth, particularly at guard and center following the departure of longtime interior lineman Kraig Urbik, who recently signed with the division-rival Dolphins.
With the release of Urbik, Buffalo had just three players — Ryan Groy, Cyril Richardson and Ronald Patrick — penciled in as interior backups prior to Thursday’s signing, and an addition to that spot was definitely needed.
Although Fernando Velasco’s playing time decreased in Carolina from 2014 to 2015, the Harris, N.Y., native still produced when on the field as he was rated a top-20 center by Pro Football Focus for the games he played in.
His sample size has been small over the past two seasons, but the former Panther appears (at least on paper) to be an instant upgrade over the three other candidates the Bills currently have vying for the backup guard/center swing position.
Velasco could find himself filling Urbik’s shoes next season depending on what the team does in the upcoming draft.
He could also find himself in a starting role if second-year guard John Miller struggles early on next season.
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