Buffalo Bills training camp roster preview: tight ends
In five of the Buffalo Bills’ 61 seasons as a professional franchise, the club have managed to catch 50 or more assists. Charles Clay did it twice, catching 51 assists in 2015 and 57 assists in 2016. He narrowly missed doing it three times, catching 49 balls in 2017. (This fact was really just an excuse to use the word three times in a sentence.) Jay Riemersma caught 53 assists in 2001, and Scott Chandler caught the same number in 2013. Pete Metzelaars led the 1994 Bills in receptions, setting a franchise record for tight ends while capturing 68 assists.
Why focus on that number of landings by a tight end? For starters, it illustrates that the Bills haven’t had many good tight ends in their team’s history. Also, in the context of the modern NFL, a tight end catching 50 passes isn’t too bad. This year alone, 14 tight ends have caught 50 assists. And while Rob Gronkowski was do not one of those players, he made 45 catches while helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earn the super bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs. Their tight end, Travis Kelce, had 105 receptions for 1,416 yards and 11 touchdowns.
A dynamic receiving weapon on the narrow end emphasizes defense in two ways. If they counter with a lighter package that might have better coverage from the players, that tight end will be much taller and stronger than the man in line in front of him. It helps in the running game and in the passing game as the taller man can use his height to gain position to make some tough catches. If defending against with a basic package, there’s a good chance the tight end will be covered by a linebacker – and unless your team has Devin White, that’s a problem.
In today’s look at the pre-training camp roster, we present the tight squad, a contingent that has some promise but, ultimately, lacks a dynamic playmaker. For the moment.
Contract status for 2021: Sign; third year of recruiting contract ($ 1,085,545 limit reached; $ 411,090 limit fee in the event of a cut)
Age: 24 (25 on 11/14/2021)
2020 Playing time: 12 games (7 starts), 427 offensive snaps (39.25%), 34 ST snaps (7.57%)
Key statistics 2020: 44 targets, 24 receptions, 288 yards, three touchdowns
Knox struggled with consistency in his second season, although it was a bit different from the struggles he faced as a rookie in that regard. Knox struggled to hold onto the ball consistently as a rookie, and while he’s still shown uncertain hands this year, he’s been much better overall. Where Knox struggled in 2020 was with his health, as he ran out of time due to a foot injury and a diagnosis of COVID-19. Knox actually hit a career high in receptions when Buffalo lost to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, catch six assists. This year is an important year for Knox, as he will need to remove the “potential” part of his descriptors and start producing more consistently, both as a receiver and as a blocker. Buffalo could start looking elsewhere very soon.
Contract status for 2021: Sign; second year of recruiting contract ($ 786,666 cap reached; $ 13,334 cap fee in the event of a cut)
Age: 23 (24 on 08/20/2021)
2020 Playing time: 14 matches, 168 ST snaps (37.42%), 77 offensive snaps (7.08%)
Key statistics 2020: Two targets, two receptions, 16 yards, one touchdown, two tackles, one forced fumble
Gilliam was a mainstay of the Buffalo Special Teams unit, and although he couldn’t block any kicks after making a living doing this at the University of Toledo, he managed his first pass from touched down in the NFL as a rookie. Gilliam has rarely been used in attack, but he has the chance to gain a bigger role this season. Ultimately, he’s likely to stay in that H-back role with goal line packages and sticks on the special teams roster.
Contract status for 2021: Sign; third year of recruiting contract ($ 874,046 cap reached; $ 48,092 cap fee in the event of a cut)
Age: At 26 on 7/1/2021
2020 Playing time: N / A
Key statistics 2020: N / A
Sweeney started the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list due to a foot injury, and just when he was due to return, he was diagnosed with myocarditis, a heart disease linked to COVID-19 . Sweeney was placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list ahead of Buffalo’s Week 7 tilt against the New York Jets as close contact with teammate Dawson Knox, who tested positive for the virus. He’s back and healthy and while he’s in the bubble he’s on the right side of the argument right now.
Contract status for 2021: Reserve / future agreement signed with Buffalo on 01/26/2021
Age: At 25 on 03/24/2021
2020 Playing time: One match, 30 offensive snaps (2.76%), four ST snaps (0.89%)
Key statistics 2020: N / A
Becker is a blocking specialist in the mold of Lee Smith, so it’s no surprise he was not targeted on his regular season debut. That debut came with Buffalo’s resounding victory over the Miami dolphins in week 17. He has a chance to knock down Sweeney as the roster’s last tight end.
Contract status for 2021: Signed a one-year contract at $ 1.13 million this offseason with $ 137,500 guaranteed
Age: 27 (28 on 11/18/2021)
2020 Playing time: 16 games (5 starters) for Seattle Seahawks; 374 offensive snaps (35.12%) and 283 special team snaps (62.75%)
Key statistics 2020: 25 receptions, 209 yards, 3 TDs for Seattle
A core specialmate and tight end contributing all in one package, Hollister brings the production the Bills need from the TE2 position (with an edge for TE1) and a much better price tag than Tyler Kroft over the two. last years. Right now he’s firmly entrenched as the Second Channel, but if Dawson Knox doesn’t take a step Buffalo could give Hollister more shots as the season progresses. Hollister played his college ball with Josh Allen in Wyoming, adding another wrinkle.
Contract status for 2021: Signed a three-year UDFA contract this offseason; Limit of $ 664,000 reached with a dead limit of $ 37,000 if cut
Age: At 22 on 01/21/2021
2020 Playing time: Started five games for Bowling Green University
Key statistics 2020: Led team with 20 catches, 248 receiving yards. First All-MAC team.
Former wide receiver Morris moved on to tight end for his junior year at Bowling Green. He’s an athletic former basketball player who brings an intriguing skill set but is very raw. Definitely a slim position practice squad candidate for Buffalo.
The players who left this offseason
- Lee Smith (traded to Atlanta Falcons)
- Tyler Kroft (free agent signed with the New York Jets)
This is perhaps the thinnest group of positions in the Buffalo roster as it stands today. Hollister is a stabilizer and Knox has potential, but there are too many questions to feel solid. That’s why Bills fans are clamoring for a trade with Zach Ertz. The longer things get without trading for the Philadelphia Eagles‘pass catcher, the less chance of this happening. I (Matt) don’t think he’s a perfect fit for what they’re trying to do and I wouldn’t trade for him. If it hits the free agent market, we could talk about a low risk, low cost one year contract. I would still love to see them add a tight end veteran option right now before training camp as they are very keen on developing a multitude of young players on the current roster.