BBD Staff Writer: Ryan Talbot
When the Ravens released fullback Vonta Leach on Tuesday, many Buffalo Bills fans clamored for the team to sign him on Twitter.
Leach has drawn interest from the Giants and Dolphins, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. Unfortunately for Bills fans, Buffalo’s coaching staff does not seem to have any interest in Leach, according to Buffalo News reporter Tim Graham.
Of the teams interested in fullback Vonta Leach, I’m told the Bills are not one.
— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) June 13, 2013
Why Leach was Released
Two likely reasons for Leach’s release were age and salary. Leach will turn 32 in November. While he has not shown any signs of slowing down, Baltimore had a hard time justifying paying Leach’s $3 million salary and $4.33 million cap hit.
Baltimore also added Kyle Juszczyk, the 2013 NFL draft’s top fullback, with a fourth-round selection.
Leach’s Recent Success
Leach, a three-time consecutive All-Pro, is known for his outstanding run blocking. According to Pro Football Focus (Subscription Required), Leach graded out as the NFL’s top fullback in 2012. Leach was given an overall rating of +19.1, four points higher than second-overall fullback Rhett Ellison of the Minnesota Vikings. Most of Leach’s rating came from his blocking grade, a +16.5.
Leach was also PFF’s top-rated fullback in 2011.
Leach is a devastating lead blocker, as evidenced by the following pancake block of one of the NFL’s best inside linebackers, Patrick Willis:
Buffalo has not utilized the fullback position in recent years, but Leach would be valuable to the Bills for his ability to create running lanes for C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
It’s not much of a connection, but head coach Doug Marrone and Leach have worked with one another in the NFL. In 2006, Marrone was offensive coordinator of the Saints. Leach was claimed off of waivers by the Saints after being released by the Packers. Leach never played a game with the Saints, but Marrone did work with the fullback briefly.
Marrone’s Syracuse Offense
When hired by the Bills, Mark Gaughan and Tim Graham of the Buffalo News wrote a bit about Marrone’s offense at Syracuse:
On the field, Marrone ran the Saints offense, more or less, in Syracuse. It’s a pro-style attack that has its roots in the West Coast offense. It relies on the quarterback getting the ball out of his hands quickly and hitting receivers in stride. It uses tight ends and a fullback effectively in situational roles.
The key term in that quote is “situational roles.” Leach is going to land a decent contract somewhere in 2013, but the Bills cannot pay Leach what he will be looking to receive in salary to play a limited role.