ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Scott Chandler #84 of the Buffalo Bills scores Buffalo's fourth touchdown on a catch against Tyvon Branch #33 of the Oakland Raiders at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 38-35. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
In fielding questions from local media early last week, Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix caught some fans off guard when he said that he'd only be interested in re-signing free agent tight end Scott Chandler "at the right price."
As an early indication that Nix knew what he was talking about, the Tennessee Titans signed a free agent tight end of their own - Craig Stevens - to a four-year, $15 million contract last Friday. Stevens, a 2008 third-round pick out of California, is known for his blocking, and has caught just 21 passes in his four-year career. In 2011, he caught nine passes for 166 yards and a touchdown.
Chandler is known more for his receiving than his blocking; he's coming off a break-out season of sorts in which he caught 38 passes for 389 yards and six touchdowns. Still, it's fair to say that Chandler is in roughly the same free agent tier as Stevens, though his numbers are an obvious advantage in terms of establishing an asking price.
If roughly $4 million per year is the new market price for a blocking tight end, it's easy to imagine Chandler's asking price eclipsing $5 million annually. (That is obviously just speculation on our part.) At minimum, that could explain Nix's comment last Monday; at maximum, it could make the 26-year-old Chandler difficult to retain.