Monday, March 24, 2014
What's next for Buffalo Bills at tight end?
By Mike Rodak
One of the more surprising developments in free agency for the Bills was the lack of a market for tight end Scott Chandler.
Chandler re-signed for less than his previous deal, despite coming off a career season in which he led the Bills in receptions and receiving yards.
With Chandler back in the fold, the Bills have about $5 million in salary-cap commitments at the position, which is about 17 percent less than the NFL average. But will the Bills get the bang for their buck?
Much of that hinges on Tony Moeaki, who didn't play an offensive snap last season after being signed in December. If Moeaki can regain his form from before his most recent injury, the Bills will have some more punch at the position. If not, it's a bland group.
Asked about the tight end position by WGR 550 on March 14, general manager Doug Whaley didn't rule out adding to the position but expressed a comfort level with the current personnel.
"I like the skill sets that each of our tight ends bring that are on the roster. You have Lee Smith, whose primary role is a blocking tight end. You have Chris Gragg, which is the speed aspect that he brings to the table. Chandler brings the size, and then Moeaki, which you guys haven't seen but if you look in his past, he's a good combination guy with receiving skills and blocking," Whaley said. "We got the gamut covered, so we think we're pretty solid there, but again, that doesn't prohibit us from getting anybody else that we can think can upgrade."
The Bills did look elsewhere before bringing back Chandler. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Bills were interested in former Baltimore Ravens tight end Ed Dickson. At this point, though, it appears that the Bills aren't actively searching the free-agent market for another tight end.
Attention now turns to the draft. North Carolina's Eric Ebron, who is expected to be a first-round pick, said last week that he has a pre-draft visit scheduled with the Bills.
Each team is allowed 30 visits and in some cases they're simply to tie up loose ends with medical information. In Ebron's case, there could be legitimate interest from the Bills, as he is expected to be available when they pick at ninth overall.
Should the Bills draft Ebron, it changes the outlook of the position entering next season. The Bills would rely less on Moeaki's re-emergence, while Chandler would become more of a part-time player, allowing the Bills to play to his strengths. Smith and Gragg would battle for roster spots.
If the Bills don't select Ebron, there isn't another tight end who would be a fit at ninth overall. The more likely targets at that spot would be wide receiver or offensive tackle. Still, the Bills could pick up a tight end in the second or third round and he could still push Chandler for playing time.