Tight End Charles Clay restructured his contract with the Buffalo Bills this past week.
Last offseason, the Miami Dolphins applied the transition tag to their free agent tight end Charles Clay. Applying the transition tag means that the Dolphins would pay Clay the average of the top ten salaries in the league at his position. Clay still had the right to negotiate with any other teams but if a deal was made, Miami had five days to decide to match the offer or not. If Miami chose not to match, Clay would be allowed to sign with that team.
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The Buffalo Bills offered Charles Clay a five-year, $38 million contract which the Dolphins chose not to match. Buffalo purposely front-loaded the contract to make it next to impossible for Miami to match since they had just recently signed Ndamukong Suh to a huge deal.
Clay was due a $10 million roster bonus from the Buffalo Bills next month before the contract was restructured. The Bills were able to change the roster bonus into a signing bonus. Per NFL rules, Buffalo can amortize the $10 million signing bonus over the remaining four years on his contract. Doing this saved the Bills $7.5 million against the salary cap for 2016 since now $2.5 million would apply to the 2016 cap instead of the full $10 million. It will, however, increase his cap hit in future years for the team. To see what Clay’s restructured contract looks like you can click on this link from Spotrac.com.
Restructuring Clay’s contract leaves the Bills $8.7 million under their salary cap limit for 2016. They should use the money created by this move, and the additional money they will create when they cut Mario Williams, to re-sign the starting left side of their offensive line. Left guard Richie Incognito and left tackle Cordy Glenn are both unrestricted free agents. As highlighted by our previous article, re-signing them should be one of the top three priorities for the Bills this offseason.
Glenn is likely to command around $12 million and Incognito about $5 million per year if they sign long-term deals. Cutting Mario Williams would save the Bills $12.9 million against the cap. This would create enough space for the Bills to sign both Incognito and Glenn with about $4.6 million in free cap space remaining. They could use that extra money towards signing draft picks, veteran free agents, or Nigel Bradham if they are interested in bringing him back.
Clay was a solid blocker last season for the Bills. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the fourth-best pass blocker in the NFL at his position. His statistics do not jump off the page but he was a regular contributor for the Bills throughout the year. He finished with 51 receptions on 77 targets for 528 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games for Buffalo.
His numbers don’t necessarily justify his contract, which pays him the fourth highest average salary per year of all tight ends, but by no means was he considered a bust. In 2016, Clay should be able to improve upon his statistics from last year while continuing to be one of the better blocking tight ends in the league.