Buffalo Bills: Why 2018 is make or break for Charles Clay

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Charles Clay’s time as a member of the Buffalo Bills seems to be on a short leash. Clay needs to step up his game in 2018, or it might be time to move on.

Since joining the Buffalo Bills in 2015, Charles Clay has always posted modest numbers. But Clay has never even come close to his career-best season back in Miami of 2013 that saw him finish with 759 receiving yards and a total of seven touchdowns.

Clay’s career high in receiving yards since joining the Bills came last year when he finished with 558 yards, which is still a fine total but that seems to be his average. As for his two previous seasons, Clay finished with 552 and 528 receiving yards, respectively. If Clay’s numbers don’t go up this season, he could find himself in some hot water.

Since signing his five-year $38 million contract, Clay has been somewhat of a disappointment. His career numbers in the blue and white tally up to 1,638 receiving yards and nine total touchdowns.

Compared to some of the elite tight ends in the league like Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham, Clay’s career numbers look like the type of numbers these elite tight ends put up in a season.

A big reason why Clay has been a little bit of a letdown is that he’s had his fair share of offensive coordinators. Almost every season in Buffalo, Clay has had to work with a new offensive coordinator. First it was Greg Roman, then came interim offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn and old-school coach Rick Dennison was next in 2017.

Dennison only lasted one season in Buffalo, but he did manage to help end a 17-year playoff drought. But Dennison desperately needed to head out the door after the offense put up a measly three points in their 10-3 playoff loss to Jacksonville.

Finally, in 2018 comes the arrival of former Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Daboll will be Clay’s fourth offensive coordinator in four years.

It’s not just offensive coordinators that seem to be in the revolving door, it’s also the quarterback position. Since Clay’s arrival in 2015, he has certainly seen a few quarterbacks during his short tenure in Buffalo.

From E.J. Manual to Tyrod Taylor, to a brief stint with Nathan Peterman and now this upcoming season Clay could find himself catching passes from A.J. McCarron, first-round pick Josh Allen or even Peterman again.

Regardless of who is under center, Clay needs to have himself a breakout year in 2018, as backup tight end Nick O’Leary seems to be showing some progress. Throw in the fact that world-class tight end Rob Gronkowski faces off against Clay twice a year and Dolphins rookie tight end Mike Gesicki is showing promise, Clay will most certainly need to intensify his game.

You could say that Clay has had luck on his side during his tenure in Buffalo. With the likes of first-round pick Sammy Watkins beside him for two years and LeSean McCoy in the backfield, Clay has been swept under the rug and his production has been forgotten by the media.

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Now throw in Kelvin Benjamin and first-round selection Josh Allen and Clay could have another season where he could get off scot-free. If Clay’s numbers do not drastically improve this season, it might seriously be time to consider moving on from the 29-year-old tight end.