Bills: Free Agent Options at TE

If the Buffalo Bills want to upgrade the tight end position in free agency, they'll have plenty of options to choose from. Here's a look at some tight ends that the Bills may pursue in free agency.

When the Buffalo Bills draft at pick 50, there’s a chance that all of the top tight end options in this year’s draft class will be gone. Free agency may be the best avenue for the team to address the position. Doug Whaley has said that one or two tight ends may be brought in for Greg Roman’s offense. Who are some options in free agency?

Top Options

Charles Clay

Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News stated that the Bills would give Clay a “hard look” if he hits free agency. He’s probably the best free agent available in terms of what Roman is looking for in a tight end. Clay is a terrific pass catcher and, perhaps more important, Clay is a terrific run blocker. In Roman’s offense, Clay could play as an H-Back. In doing so, he’d be able to play two important roles in Roman’s offense.

Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas comes down to cost. He emerged in 2013 with a 65 catch, 788 yard season with 12 touchdowns in 14 games. This season, Thomas played 13 games and while his stats were down (43 receptions for 489 yards), he still finished with another 12 touchdown season. Thomas would immediately give the Bills another weapon offensively.

The biggest questions about Thomas are injuries and quarterback play. Thomas has battled ankle and knee injuries in his short career. Late in 2014, Thomas dealt with torn ligaments in his ankle. The other question about Thomas is how effective he’ll be on a team that may not have a franchise quarterback. Thomas spent the last two seasons with Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Will the tight end be as productive with a team that doesn’t have an established quarterback? Time will tell, but Thomas will command big money on the free agent market.

Jordan Cameron

Cameron is another talented pass catcher. In 2013, Cameron caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games. This season, Cameron only played in 10 games and caught 24 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns. He missed five consecutive weeks with a concussion this season and also suffered concussions in 2012 and 2013.

While Cameron would significantly improve Buffalo’s offense, the Bills would have to be careful about Cameron’s concussion history.

Second-Tier Options

Jermaine Gresham

Gresham wasn’t a big play threat in 2014, but he caught quite a few passes. The tight end finished with 62 receptions, two shy of his career high, 460 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 7.4 yards per catch last season, a career low, but he’s still seen as a reliable tight end. Gresham has 280 receptions in his five year career and he’d be a welcome addition to a team that needs more pass catchers. He’s not on the same level as the players above, but he’s still be an upgrade for the Bills.

Niles Paul

The 2014 season was Paul’s fourth year in the league, but his first with double-digit receptions. Paul caught 39 passes for 507 yards and one touchdown. The tight end used to play wide receiver and is very undersized at 6’1”, but he can create mismatches on the field. Washington considered moving Paul to fullback, and his ability to play this role may make him even more appealing to the Bills. Paul could play an H-Back role for Buffalo in 2015.

Third-Tier Options

Virgil Green

Green is not a pass catcher, but he’s arguably the best run blocking tight end available in the free agent class. Pro Football Focus listed Green as the fourth best run blocking tight end in football in 2014. Green was only targeted six times all season, but he did catch all six passes. Green wouldn’t excite the fan base if he was signed, but he’d be a valuable asset to Greg Roman.

Lance Kendricks

Kendricks had a down year for the Rams in 2014. He caught 27 passes for 259 yards and five touchdowns. His best season came in 2012 where he caught 42 passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns. In terms of blocking, Kendricks has been up-and-down in this regard. Kendricks is another player who wouldn’t excite the fans, but he’d add competition at the second tight end spot.


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