The Buffalo Bills hosted seven tryout players during this week’s three-day mandatory minicamp, and on Friday afternoon the team decided to sign one of those players as it inked offensive tackle Justin Renfrow to an undisclosed deal.
To make room for Renfrow on the 90-man roster the Bills designated safety Phillip Thomas as waived/injured. Thomas joined the team as a member of the practice squad this past December before signing a reserve/future contract with the team in January.
Overview: OT Justin Renfrow
After hosting a slew of tryout players this past week, which included four offensive linemen, Buffalo decided to get one of those linemen under contract.
Renfrow, a native of Morrisville, Pa., has been quite the traveler since entering the league in 2014.
An undrafted free agent out of the University of Miami, Renfrow signed with the Arizona Cardinals following the 2014 NFL Draft.
Renfrow joined the Cardinals as a defensive end/defensive tackle, which is the position he played in college while at Miami and the University of Virginia.
Ranked the No. 43 rated defensive end by ESPN coming out of William Penn Charter high school in 2009, the now 26-year-old spent four seasons at Virginia before transferring to Miami for his redshirt senior season.
The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder finished his collegiate career with 54 tackles (29 solo, 25 assists), one-and-a-half tackles for loss, one forced fumble and three pass breakups.
He continued to play on the defensive side of the ball as a rookie in Arizona, but his time with the Cardinals was short.
Renfrow was released by the team before the start of the 2014 regular season and later joined the Florida Blacktips of the Fall Experimental Football League (FXFL), making the transition to offensive tackle as a result.
His transition to the offensive side of the ball became more permanent when he was signed to the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad in Nov. 2014.
The Packers released the former William Penn Charter standout later on that season at the end of December, but his journey wasn’t finished as the Seattle Seahawks signed him to their practice squad for the remainder of the 2014 season before inking him to a reserve/future contract in Feb. 2015.
Seattle didn’t spend much time with the experiment, however, as Renfrow was released shortly after and has wound up bouncing around from the San Francisco 49ers, to the Hudson Valley Fort (also of the FXFL) and most recently to the Dallas Cowboys within the past 13 months.
Now officially a member of the Buffalo Bills, Renfrow will look to sneak into the competition for the fourth tackle spot when training camp opens up in late July.
He’ll turn 27 in November.
How does Justin Renfrow fit?
Despite his background on the defensive side of the ball, it’s safe to assume that Renfrow is joining the Bills at his fairly new position of offensive tackle.
With good size (6-6, 310) and exceptional arm length (35 inches), Renfrow certainly has the measurables to play the position at this level, and it’s clear that Buffalo sees the potential as well following his tryout at minicamp.
The addition of the former Hurricane marks the second signing of an offensive tackle in the past five days as the Bills also signed tackle Chris Martin to a free agent deal on Monday.
While Renfrow and Martin might not even make it past training camp, it’s clear that the Bills see a need at the position.
Third-year right tackle Seantrel Henderson has yet to make a return to the practice field following offseason surgery linked to his battle with Crohn’s Disease, and former second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio hasn’t exactly been stellar during offseason workouts.
Other than presumed starters Cordy Glenn and Jordan Mills, the team’s only other option at tackle prior to Renfrow and Martin’s signings was undrafted rookie Marquis Lucas.
To keep it simple — more bodies were needed along the offensive line heading into training camp, specifically at the tackle spots.
Renfrow certainly isn’t a finished product, but, depending on how he fares this summer, there might be an opportunity for him in Buffalo.
If Henderson is unable to recover fully from his offseason procedure, then that would leave the final tackle spot up for grabs between Lucas, Martin and Renfrow should the team decide to keep four this season.
Whether he has a real shot or not won’t be determined until the pads come on, but there is certainly plenty of upside for this developmental prospect.
After their attempt to convert T.J. Barnes from defensive tackle to offensive tackle apparently failed earlier this offseason, Buffalo appears ready to take another crack at a defensive to offensive lineman conversion with Renfrow.
At the very least, he’ll be an interesting player to watch when camp begins July 30.
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