How Eric Wood’s retirement changes trajectory of Buffalo Bills offseason

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 17: Eric Wood (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 17: Eric Wood (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /
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It was announced that long-time Bills center Eric Wood can no longer play football after suffering a series of stingers in 2017. Essentially retiring from the Buffalo Bills.

Eric Wood, unfortunately, has to hang up his cleats. A neck injury has ended a very successful NFL career after nine seasons.

The Buffalo Bills are fortunate enough to hear this terrible news early on in the offseason. It breaks the heart of Bill fans and players but, as much as it hurts to say, the show must go on.

With center Eric Wood going down, it is not necessarily the need for a center that changes the offseason but a series of other factors.

Ryan Groy is an unsung hero on the Bills. He replaced Wood when he was injured last year. He is the favorite to take over the job in 2018 now.

Although the shuffling of the talent on the line has sort of been working for the Bills, the lack of a true center still exists.

There is no reason why Groy can’t take over the center position full-time in 2018. But the Bills front office can still think otherwise.

Buffalo’s back-to-back first-round selections in the draft are great ammo to move up for a quarterback. Now, though, not having both of those picks could backfire.

The Bills now need too many things. The Bills, I believe, need a run-stuffing linebacker, another offensive lineman, a quarterback, and a true back up running back.

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Some of those needs can be filled in free agency but not all. The draft is a good place to fill the rest of those positions.

It was far from a guarantee that the Bills were going to give up both or one of those picks anyway.

Now, however, it is even riskier to do so. The hole created by Wood’s injury is too big to fill. His replacement might already be on the roster but it still shuffles around the depth chart problematically.

The Bills’ offseason now includes morphing guys into leadership roles. It is proving time and time again that teams having great leaders on and off the field is essential.

Wood says he will be part of the team in some capacity but the Bills are losing his everyday intangible leadership qualities.

The Bills now need to find the next guys who can step up and show the ropes to the young guys. Welcome free agents to the city. Explain the grind of the football life.

That is up to coach McDermott to figure out.

The Bills’ offseason is a little more complex now.

Filling more holes in the roster and keeping the leadership at One Bills Drive become sudden burdens to take care of.

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All else aside, we should all be happy that Eric Wood will be okay. He can live his life with his long-term health intact.

The Bills Mafia will miss you, Big E.

The 2018 NFL offseason is officially underway.