Buffalo Bills Offseason Grades: Tight Ends


Buffalo Bills Offseason Grades: Tight Ends

The Buffalo Bills made a big move this offseason by signing Charles Clay to a very lucrative 5 year, $38 million deal that made him one of the highest paid tight ends in the league. However; it didn’t work out as we would’ve hoped. Behind Clay there was not much help from the reserve tight ends leading to little production from the group.

Clay finished the year with just 51 catches for 528 yards, and only three touchdowns. All of those stats were his worst since the 2012 season. Surely the Bills were expecting much more production from Clay when they made him the 4th highest paid tight end in the league.

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According to Football Outsiders, who used advanced statistics to rank players, Clay finished as the 32nd best tight end in the NFL. Clay was basically invisible on the field for most of the season, an afterthought of Tyrod Taylor and Greg Roman’s game plan. However, not all of the disappointing stats are Charles Clay’s fault.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /

Through the first six games of the season Clay averaged 7.5 targets per game. Over the last seven games he played he averaged only 4.5 targets per game. When Clay was targeted he generally made the catch including 9 catch games in losses to the Giants and Bengals.

Another reason the Bills payed Clay so well was because of his blocking ability, which was on display more than Clay would have hoped this year. He was an above average blocker, not spectacular but better than most tight ends. However, Clay needs to be focused more in the passing game next season.

The knock on Tyrod Taylor has been his inability to make short to intermediate passes, surely he will look to improve that in the off-season. Charles Clay should be used more in the short passing game next season, and he is more than capable. Instead of a deep throw on third and 5 Taylor should be looking for Clay to get that first down.

The Bills also used Chris Gragg as a 2nd tight end and in games where Clay was injured. Gragg ended the year with 12 catches for 150 yards. Gragg showed he is a capable back up, but certainly nothing above that. Rookie Nick O’Leary saw the field in the last four games of the year, but was a non factor in those games.

Overall the Buffalo Bills tight end group was very disappointing this season, especially after the money they spent on Clay the past summer. The group was not featured in the game plans at all, and next year that has to change. Clay could have a break out season next year if Taylor looks for more of the short passes, which is needed for the offense to continue getting better.

This group should improve their production the most out of any offensive group next season. Developing chemistry between Clay and Taylor will be key for this offense next year to keep drives alive on third downs. However; this year, disappointing sums up the play from Buffalo tight ends.

Grade: C-