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YoloinOhio

Replacing Charles Clay: All-22 Review, Cap implications, Roster, FA and draft options

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All-22 Review: Charles Clay is good, but is he good enough to stay in Buffalo? We put the #Bills’ tight end under the microscope.

https://www.buffalorumblings.com/buffalo-bills-analysis-all-22/2019/1/29/18200153/all-22-review-charles-clay-is-good-but-is-he-good-enough-to-stay-in-buffalo-bills-tight-end

 

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Summary

Charles Clay is roughly the same player he’s always been for the Buffalo Bills. When healthy he’s dependable in a number of roles, and occasionally shows flashes of dominance. He understandably never shined brightly in offenses designed to avoid passing and with the Allenoffense, he never seemed to click. It’s quite understandable that Clay’s tenure with Buffalo has been disappointing as a result. 

Clay has a good case for still being the best tight end on the roster, but being the best at a job that the team is still trying to figure out might not be enough. From a purely talent-based perspective there’s no compelling argument for moving on from Clay. But looking at it through the scope of a team looking to get younger while still figuring out their identity on offense, a separation has more merit. With the team not using the position to its fullest and constant injury concerns, it’d be a low risk gamble to try a different option.

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Clay turns 30 in just a couple of weeks and is entering the last year on his contract. Although the Bills have enough cap space to afford the final year of his deal, they might want to look at upgrading the tight end position for Josh Allen.

If they do release him, they’ll save some good money but if they go the free agent route, the money they save on Clay will likely be gone and then some. If they replace through the NFL Draft, they would obviously save space.

Salary cap ramifications of cutting Clay, numbers via Spotrac:

2019 cap hit: $9 million
Salary due: $4.5 million
Dead money if cut: $4.5 million
Cap savings if cut: $4.5 million

 

 

Jared Cook

CJ Uzomah

Jesse James

Tyler Eifert

Maxx Williams 

 

Edited by YoloinOhio
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Interesting that he was getting open more than you would think from the targets. May well just have been that Allen and he weren't clicking but it could happen next year.

 

The blocking breakdowns were a bit disappointing.

 

Overall I'd thought it was a near sure thing that he'd be going. I'm less convinced now. $4.5 mill would be nice to save but he's still doing a decent job. Not a $9 mill job, the Whaley contract was ridiculous. But maybe worth the $4.5 mill. I could see it go either way.

 

Thanks for posting, Yolo.

 

 

Edited by Thurman#1
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As long as Croom's relationship status remains unchanged, so will his employer.

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There is no reason not to bring him back.  Bills could still cut him during final cuts if his injury concerns are still there.   You know what you have with Clay, and if you find someone better for $4.5 Million or more,  decide then.The $4.5 dead cap is there whether he is cut now or anytime later.  

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7 minutes ago, richardb1952 said:

There is no reason not to bring him back.  Bills could still cut him during final cuts if his injury concerns are still there.   You know what you have with Clay, and if you find someone better for $4.5 Million or more,  decide then.The $4.5 dead cap is there whether he is cut now or anytime later.  

Until we have someone that is better I say keep him. That said I'd like to use this offseason to add someone like CJ Uzomah and maybe a mid round like Tommy Sweeney. As Clay and Croom are the only TEs on the roster I think worth keeping. 

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Id take Cook in a heartbeat, followed by Jesse James. Maxx Williams comes in at #3. Keep Croom, draft another TE in rounds 2-4 to compete with Thomas for the 3rd spot. If Thomas has value being able to recognize and pick up coverages and blitzes then it might be worth it to have him around in some capacity, but probably not at the cost of a pick in the first 4 rounds.

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Inside the Bills: Is Jason Croom ready to take over as the starting tight end?

https://buffalonews.com/2019/01/26/inside-the-bills-is-jason-croom-ready-to-take-over-as-the-starting-tight-end/



If the answer is on the current roster, it will be Jason Croom. The first-year pro put up better numbers than Clay in 2018, finishing with 22 catches for 259 yards and one touchdown. It remains to be seen, though, whether that’s enough to convince the coaching staff that Croom is ready for an expanded role.

“I think (tight ends coach) Rob Boras has done a really good job with him, and so has Jason,” offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said before last month’s season finale. “You know, he's put the time in. Again, you're talking about a guy who played at the University of Tennessee, was really a receiver, didn't play last year, so it's almost like you're a rookie coming in. He's made strides each and every week.”

Croom had never played tight end until the 2016 season with the Volunteers. He got the idea while rehabbing a knee injury that cost him the previous year, and head coach Butch Davis was all for it. At 6-foot-5 and 246 pounds, Croom has prototypical size for a tight end. He’s also fast enough, running a 4.69-second 40-yard dash at Tennessee’s Pro Day in 2017.

“Athletic guy who can catch, has some run-after-catch ability, and is still learning all the things (that come with the position),” Daboll said. “Tight end is a tough position to play. Usually when you're playing out on the perimeter, you see the game through a little lens, and then when you get in there, that's a lot of different things that go on. I think Jason's improved since he's been here. We're going to have to have a good offseason.”

One thing you can bet on: Croom’s going to put the work in to get better. Since signing as an undrafted free agent with the Bills, he’s consistently been one of the team’s hardest workers. It’s not uncommon to see him on the field long after practice has ended, catching balls from the JUGS machine or working one-on-one with Boras on his blocking technique.

“It's just how I am. You don't practice at it, it's not going to happen,” Croom said. “I'm always trying to work on my fundamentals so I've got that part down, and now I can go to the next level.”

 

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13 minutes ago, richardb1952 said:

There is no reason not to bring him back.  Bills could still cut him during final cuts if his injury concerns are still there.   You know what you have with Clay, and if you find someone better for $4.5 Million or more,  decide then.The $4.5 dead cap is there whether he is cut now or anytime later.  

I think his play has declined over the last couple of years.  I was at the Bills game in Miami this year and saw his drop at the goal line at the end of the game.  His effort was pathetic.  I also saw the reaction of McD when the ball hit the ground.  He had the look of a guy who had seen enough.  If I had to bet, I believe he will be gone.

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If possible, I would like to retain Clay unless it is a trade that brings us something else. This is a contract year for him and I expect him to up his game quite a bit. 

Edited by IgotBILLStopay
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21 minutes ago, richardb1952 said:

There is no reason not to bring him back.  Bills could still cut him during final cuts if his injury concerns are still there.   You know what you have with Clay, and if you find someone better for $4.5 Million or more,  decide then.The $4.5 dead cap is there whether he is cut now or anytime later.  

 

I just wish this was said over and over again.  Believe it or not, fan anger is not a reason to cut a player.  

 

Clay hasn't lived up to expectations, but he is still the best TE on the roster.  Cutting him does not all of a sudden mean the position is fixed.  If they bring in someone better, sure, I''m all in.  But right now, we don't have someone better. 

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21 minutes ago, richardb1952 said:

There is no reason not to bring him back.  Bills could still cut him during final cuts if his injury concerns are still there.   You know what you have with Clay, and if you find someone better for $4.5 Million or more,  decide then.The $4.5 dead cap is there whether he is cut now or anytime later.  

 

There is no reason not to bring him back?

Clay had 21 catches last year. McDermott made him inactive in December. There's nothing left to see.

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1 minute ago, Florida Bills Fanatic said:

I think his play has declined over the last couple of years.  I was at the Bills game in Miami this year and saw his drop at the goal line at the end of the game.  His effort was pathetic.  I also saw the reaction of McD when the ball hit the ground.  He had the look of a guy who had seen enough.  If I had to bet, I believe he will be gone.

 

When I look at the film of that play, it looks to me that Clay's feet kicked up some dirt as he was attempting to come back for the ball which might indicate a loss of footing.  That field was in horrible shape and a number of other players were having footing difficulties.  I do agree that his play has declined over the last few years.

 Injuries have really hampered him so much that he didn't get to practice much during the practices between games.  It never appeared he and Allen were on the same page.

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I think Clay will have a future depending on McBeanes character issues.  Veteran players have to buy into the system and be leaders. If Clay is a leader he will stay.  If he's just the best player at the position, his age will doom him. McBeane want young guys and they want them now.  

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7 minutes ago, richardb1952 said:

 

When I look at the film of that play, it looks to me that Clay's feet kicked up some dirt as he was attempting to come back for the ball which might indicate a loss of footing.  That field was in horrible shape and a number of other players were having footing difficulties.  I do agree that his play has declined over the last few years.

 Injuries have really hampered him so much that he didn't get to practice much during the practices between games.  It never appeared he and Allen were on the same page.

Yes to both of these points. I think with him having scheduled rests during practices, that him and Allen couldn't build up a rapport with each other. I think if they can move forward and find someone who either FA or draft, maybe you keep Clay as insurance in case someone goes down. But that also takes up roster space and salary for a position of need that could be filled with depth.  

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I think Daboll will have a lot of say in whether he returns. He’s a former TE coach and may have a strong opinion on either he wants him on the field. If I’m not mistaken, he coached him in Miami too early in clay’s career. 

 

I think it could go either way. At minimum I think they will bring in a presumed upgrade either in FA or the draft. Whether they keep him too is fluid but I have a gut feeling they will not. I too get the impression that McDermott doesn’t consider him to fulfill his “availability” requirement and his reliability was very questionable when he did play. 

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38 minutes ago, richardb1952 said:

 

When I look at the film of that play, it looks to me that Clay's feet kicked up some dirt as he was attempting to come back for the ball which might indicate a loss of footing.  That field was in horrible shape and a number of other players were having footing difficulties.  I do agree that his play has declined over the last few years.

 Injuries have really hampered him so much that he didn't get to practice much during the practices between games.  It never appeared he and Allen were on the same page.

I was in the third row at the goal line and had a great unobstructed view of the play.  Clay was late in his reaction to the ball and just played it poorly.  He flat out dropped a catch that you would expect an NFL player to make.  There was no defender in the play.  You are absolutely correct about the playing surface there.  Both teams were having trouble with it during the entire game.  With all of the money that has been spent to improve that stadium, one would think that some improvement of the playing surface would have been made.

Edited by Florida Bills Fanatic

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Just now, YoloinOhio said:

I think Daboll will have a lot of say in whether he returns. He’s a former TE coach and may have a strong opinion on either he wants him on the field. If I’m not mistaken, he coached him in Miami too early in clay’s career. 

 

I think it could go either way. At minimum I think they will bring in a presumed upgrade either in FA or the draft. Whether they keep him too is fluid but I have a gut feeling they will not. I too get the impression that McDermott doesn’t consider him to fulfill his “availability” requirement and his reliability was very questionable when he did play. 

I am still very high on Jace Sternberger from Texas A&M, and don't understand why he doesn't seem to be mentioned that much as a prospect. 

Seriously, I can't find anything not to like about the kid.

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28 minutes ago, Flip Johnson said:

 

There is no reason not to bring him back?

Clay had 21 catches last year. McDermott made him inactive in December. There's nothing left to see.

 

Well he has a contract with the Bills.  That is a big reason.  There is literally no downfall to seeing if he can turn it around. 

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I tend to side with those saying we should wait & see about Clay.  His contract is not going to break the bank this year and even if someone (either Crooms or a FA) move ahead of him on the depth chart you still need at least 2 solid TE's.

 

If Allen & Clay work together through training camp and the pre-season we may be surprised at how well they start to click.  There were a couple of issues in play this year that limited Allen & Clay's effectiveness:

 

*  Clay was hurt and not playing at 100%

 

*  As a rookie Allen was less comfortable throwing check down passes which will cost a TE catches.  This should improve next year as Allen & his TE's work with the offensive staff to figure how best to deploy the dump off receivers when Allen himself can gain 20 yards running the ball.  My guess is they'll work to spread things out a bit when the pocket breaks down allowing Allen the option of running or passing by keeping his running lanes open.  You saw this a bit at the end of the season where on some of Allen's big runs, Clay was about 20 yards along side him and Allen would fake a throw to him freezing the safety.  Check out the Miami game for this.

 

*    Allen did not take a lot of snaps with the first team O during pre-season.  IMO this really limited Allen's timing & anticipation with his receivers and timing definitely seemed to be an issue between Allen & Clay.  This can be worked on and it would likely be fixed this off season.

 

*  I suspect that Clay and the other TE's were a lot more involved in pass protection then normal due to the Bill's O-line struggling at times.  Quicker throws and a better pass blocking O-line should allow more early TE releases on pass plays which will lead to more 10 - 15 yard completions right over the middle.

 

One thing I noticed about Clay that impressed me was that even in his last game the guy was excited when the Bills made a good play. He never looked like a guy just going through the motions.  I remember how KB seemed not to care but Clay always seemed to care.  It just feels to me like Clay is a team player and the Bills are probably better with him on the squad then not on it. 

 

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"Clay has a good case for still being the best tight end on the roster"

 

Yikes.  If that's the best conclusion that analysis can come up with, then let him go. 

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Please just cut him. 

 

Even when he was on the field, I had no idea he was even playing

 

Even if you save $1.00

 

Cut him please

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I've never been a fan of cutting a guy when we don't have someone better to replace him with.  It would be a different story if we needed that cap space to make another move or he was an issue in the locker room but neither of those appear to be the case.  No question we need to upgrade the TE position but cutting Clay before we've done that doesn't make the team better. 

 

Who knows, he could end up being a solid #2 TE this year.  Maybe he could actually stay healthy if he's not counted on the play every snap with the 1s.

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What is the upside of cutting him?  They have more than enough cap room to sign any players they want. They won't use all the cap room in one off-season.  He is still the best TE on the roster. 

That being said, other than the interior OL, TE is the worst positon group on the team. They need a high end FA acquisition and a day 1 or day 2 draft pick before they should move on from Clay.

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2 hours ago, JoshAllenHasBigHands said:

 

Well he has a contract with the Bills.  That is a big reason.  There is literally no downfall to seeing if he can turn it around. 

A lost roster spot for an ineffective player is the downfall. He hasn’t lived up to the billing, injuries or not. 

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