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Thursday, July 10, 2014
Counting the Bills: Tight ends

By Mike Rodak

Continuing a series analyzing the economics of the Buffalo Bills roster, position by position:

Position: Tight end

Total cap value: $5,124,444
Compared to NFL average: 25.4 percent less
NFL positional rank: 22nd

Portion of Bills' total cap number: 3.7 percent

2014 cap numbers:
Scott Chandler: $1.9 million (20th on Bills, tied for 25th among NFL tight ends)
Tony Moeaki: $1.381 million (Bills: 25th; NFL: 41st)
Lee Smith: $688,401 (Bills: 38th; NFL: 62nd)
Mike Caussin: $645,000 (Bills: tied for 42nd; NFL: tied for 70th)
Chris Gragg: $509,793 (Bills: 56th; NFL: 104th)

Average per year:
Chandler: $2.375 million (21st on Bills, 23rd among NFL tight ends)
Moeaki: $1 million (Bills: tied for 31st; NFL: tied for 48th)
Caussin: $645,000 (Bills: tied for 41st; NFL: tied for 72nd)
Smith: $574,571 (Bills: 49th; NFL: 91st)
Gragg: $554,793 (Bills: 54th; NFL: 101st)

Most overpaid: None. The Bills brought back Chandler at a bargain, compared to his previous contract. His cap hit (25th among NFL tight ends) puts him theoretically into the bottom third of NFL starting tight ends, which is how I would evaluate him. On the surface, Moeaki's contract is a little rich for a player who didn't sign with the team until December of last season. However, the Bills split his $500,000 roster bonus in half: Moeaki received $250,000 in March and he will receive the rest in installments for each game he is active. That protects the Bills in case Moeaki is injured again or can't regain his pre-injury form.

Most underpaid: None. The Bills aren't spending much on tight ends this season. An argument can be made that they should have pursued free-agent options outside of Chandler, but it's also important to remember that free agency falls two months before the draft. Top rookie tight ends like Eric Ebron and Austin Seferian-Jenkins were on the Bills' radar and would have slid right into the top role if drafted, partly negating any free-agent signing. I think the Bills would have liked to improve their tight end position this offseason but it ultimately didn't work out. Chandler, Moeaki, and Smith aren't a star-studded group but they could get the job done this season.