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03-15-2019, 04:08 AM,
Post: #1
The Buffalo Bills have seemingly been in search of a great tight end for the franchise’s entire history. The team’s all-time leader in receptions at the position , Pete Metzelaars, left the team in 1994, having accumulated 302 catches in his 156 games with the team. While other teams have begun to utilize tight ends that play more like wide receivers, the Bills have been unable to find players that fit the new-age mold for the position.The team thought it had found a player like that in 2015, signing a tight end from a divisional rival to a big contract. That contract is part of the reason that many people speculate that 2018 will be his final year with the Bills. In our latest installment of the state of the Bills roster, we look at the tight end position, a group that is set to undergo big changes in 2019. Charles Clay Contract status for 2019: Signed; $9 million cap hit ($4.5 million dead cap if cut)Age: 29 (30 on 2/13/19) Playing time: 13 games (12 starts), 504 snaps (47.59% of offensive total), 1 ST snaps (.23%)Key statistics: 36 targets, 21 catches, 184 yards (8.8 YPC), 1 fumbleAny mention of Clay necessitates a mention of his contract, a five-year, $38 million pact signed in the 2015 off-season. The 2019 season is slated to be the third consecutive year where Clay will carry a $9 million salary cap hit if he is on the Bills’ roster. The reason that it’s an “if” this year is twofold—not only did Clay’s production dip dramatically this year, but it’s also the first year that the Bills can move on without taking on an exorbitant amount of dead cap money. While $4.5 million is no chump change , had the Bills cut Clay prior to the 2018 season, they’d have been on the hook for a $13.5 million cap charge. Clay’s cap hit is the fourth-highest on the Bills next year. He made $250,000 per target this season. It’s time to move on.Logan ThomasContract status for 2019: Unsigned; RFAAge: 27 (28 on 7/1/19)Playing time: 12 games (3 starts), 284 snaps (26.82% of offensive total), 190 ST snaps (43.28%)Key statistics: 17 targets, 12 catches, 77 yards (6.4 YPC)Thomas has been an interesting experiment during his career in Buffalo, fully realizing his transition from quarterback to tight end during this time. While he possesses tremendous athleticism, that athletic ability has not translated to success on the field. He has struggled as a blocker, especially—consistently losing at the point of attack in both run and pass protection. As a restricted free agent, Buffalo could offer him an original-round tender, and since Thomas was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, any team who tried to sign him would have to forfeit a fourth-round pick in order to do so. The problem is that no team would be willing to forfeit that pick, at least based on his actual production, and if that were to happen , I’m not sure that Thomas is worth the projected $2 million tender. For the record, Spotrac has Thomas as an unrestricted free agent, but the best we can tell based on Thomas’s service time and the league’s RFA rules, he is set to be a restricted free agent next year. Jason Croom Contract status for 2019: Signed; $570,000 cap hit (0 dead cap if cut)Age: 24 (25 on 2/28/19)Playing time: 15 games (3 starts), 387 snaps (36.54% of offensive total), 146 ST snaps (33.26%)Key statistics: 35 targets, 22 catches, 259 yards (11.8 YPC), 1 TD, 2 fumblesThe second-year pro played in his first career NFL games this year, and he acquitted himself fairly well overall. Croom looked comfortable, though not overpowering, as a blocker, and he showed some good route-running ability and athleticism. As a former collegiate wide receiver at the University of Tennessee , Croom definitely has some mismatch potential moving forward, and he has tremendous overall upside. I expect that he’ll have an even greater role in the offense next year.Positional OutlookThe tight-end position is one where plenty of change should probably occur this year, and general manager Brandon Beane may have confirmed as much by saying, well, nothing. In his end-of-the-year press conference, Beane was asked about both LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay being on the roster in 2019, and while Beane discussed McCoy at length in his answer, he did not so much as mention Clay’s name. Add to that a late-season healthy scratch for Clay, and most signs point to the 2018 season being his last with Buffalo.Clay is a talented player, but he has played under the weight of his big contract in Buffalo, and after having a season where he was not used much at all, it does not seem wise to keep him on the roster moving forward. The same goes for Logan Thomas, whose physical attributes far exceed his actual ability at the tight end position. That leaves the Bills with only Croom, who appears to be the leader at the position as we head into the offseason.The Bills will need to add a player or two here, whether via the draft or free agency. The list of free agents isn’t especially appealing , and it’s always difficult for rookie tight ends to come on and make an immediate impact. Buffalo will need to search far and wide for effective additions at the position.The Buffalo Rumblings Podcast, episode 23: Greatest comeback part II? Plus predicting the Bills’ roster The preseason has (mercifully) come to an end after the Buffalo Bills pulled off the improbable 28-27 come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 4 of the NFL preseason. Thanks to a resilient effort from AJ McCarron, who guided Buffalo to four fourth-quarter touchdowns after a disastrous start, Buffalo evened its preseason record at 2-2. On the latest edition of the Buffalo Rumblings Podcast, co-hosts John Boccacino and Anthony Marino offered up their thoughts on what they liked and what they didn’t like from the dramatic win over the Bears. With teams having to reduce their rosters to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday, they also offer up their thoughts on who has done enough to cement a roster spot, and who could have played their final snaps for the Bills. The biggest competitions for roster spots appears to be at: Wide receiver (potential cuts include Corey Coleman, Rod Streater, Ray-Ray McCloud III, and Brandon Reilly)Tight end (Khari Lee, Nick O’Leary, and Logan Thomas are on the bubble); Offensive line (bubble players appear to be Marshall Newhouse, De’Ondre Wesley, Conor McDermott, and Russell Bodine)Defensive end (Mike Love and Terrence Fede on the bubble)Linebacker (Deon Lacey and Tanner Vallejo are most firmly entrenched on the bubble)Cornerback (it appears it’s a two-man race between Breon Borders and Lafayette Pitts for the No. 5 CB role)Punter (we give incumbent Colton Schmidt the edge over Jon Ryan). Check out our Buffalo Rumblings podcast to catch the complete breakdown from Week 4 of the preseason , along with our roster cut down thoughts! Listen here. The Buffalo Rumblings podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podbay, Podfanatic, and practically everywhere podcasts are found.Subscribe, rate, and review our Buffalo Rumblings podcast now and leave your comments below. You can also download an MP3 version of the podcast by signing up for a free account at SoundCloud. We are looking for feedback and want to hear from you!

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