After their most successful season in over a decade, the Buffalo Bills need to try and build on that “achievement” to finally make the NFL playoffs. Part of the upgrade will be finally finding a productive tight end, and glancing at the free agency market, Charles Clay of the Miami Dolphins might be a perfect fit.
There are obviously other needs for the Bills, especially at quarterback, but overall the team seems to be heading in the right direction under Doug Marrone. Finishing 9-7 didn’t get them into the postseason, but don’t underestimate nine wins for this franchise. It’s their best season since 2004 (also 9-7) and only their second nine win season (or better, which didn’t happen) in the last 15 years. The Bills, if you forgot, haven’t been to the postseason since 1999.
The Bills also haven’t been really fortunate when it comes to great tight ends, despite the league going more and more in the direction of utilizing the position as a primary passing option. Their leading tight end receiver last season was Scott Chandler, catching 47 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Not terrible, but not exactly someone who seems to give them any kind of special advantage over other teams or create mismatches.
There are big names in the tight end market this season, but Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron are going to be a bit out of their price range. They have other players on their roster who can fill in for a few snaps, but if Chandler remains their number one option, it’s going to be something of an offseason failure that they haven’t been able to upgrade the position.
So what about Clay? After four seasons in the league, Clay really took himself into the next level over the last couple of seasons. He caught 127 passes for 1364 yards and nine touchdowns, playing in 30 games. Not exactly an All-Pro or Pro Bowl selection, but certainly someone who is more than just a default option, and is going to be a headache for quite a lot of linebackers and secondary players when they have to cover him.
There’s also the draft, but the Bills don’t have a first round pick because of the Sammy Watkins trade from last year. With their first pick being 50th overall, they have a better chance of finding a meaningful contributor at the position by spending a little bit of money on it instead of taking a gamble on a young, unproven player in the draft.