The Buffalo Bills' leading receiver in 2013 was a tight end, so it's fair to say the team depends on the position. That leading pass catcher, Scott Chandler, is set to become a free agent, and the Bills would be wise to add a tight end in free agency - even if they also plan on adding one in the NFL Draft.
Chandler was the receiving threat from the position, while Lee Smith saw heavy rotation as a blocker. Rookie seventh-round pick Chris Gragg saw his playing time increase over the course of the season, but was largely a non-factor. The team signed oft-injured veteran Tony Moeaki late in the year, but he didn't see any snaps on offense in his two games active.
What the Bills could add
It's highly unlikely that the Bills will make a run at game-changing tight end Jimmy Graham, or even a guy like Jermichael Finley. Instead, look for the Bills to add a second-tier tight end in free agency to hold down the fort and hopefully pair with a rookie.
Who fits the Bill
Chandler: Chandler will test the open market, but both sides should leave open the possibility of a return. He has a good rapport with the Bills' starting quarterback and knows the offense. He may look for greener pastures both in terms of teams and dollar figures, but don't rule out a re-signing.
Brandon Pettigrew: His former head coach is in town running the defense, and Pettigrew's steady numbers in Detroit should be appealing to Bills fans. It has been reported that he is looking for a contract similar to Dennis Pitta's five-year, $32 million deal which seems like more than the Bills will be willing to pay. If they decide to just add one tight end, they could sign Pettigrew and forego drafting another.
Garrett Graham: A tight end more in the Bills' price range, Graham doesn't have an extensive body of work and will be available after the first wave of free agents sign. He started 20 games for the Texans over the last two years, is 6'3", and caught 49 passes in 2013. His game is somewhat similar to Chandler's, but he will likely come a little bit cheaper.
Best case scenario
If you remove the highly unlikely possibility of Jimmy Graham, the best case scenario involves adding one of these veteran tight ends to compete with Moeaki for the role of veteran in the tight end corps. In May, the Bills add an athletic tight end in the first or second round, and plug them in on either side of the field to give teams fits. Pettigrew is the best on the list.