Charles Clay is among the best paid players in the NFL, both on the Buffalo Bills and at the tight end position overall. In 2017, the veteran tight end led the Bills in receiving yards with 558. He was also second on the team in both targets (74) and receptions (49).
None of these are eye-popping numbers, but how much of it is because Clay played in an incredibly conservative, low-volume passing offense? It’s hard to ding the players catching the passes for posting such low volume numbers when the reason for their low production—low volume—is entirely out of their control. It isn’t hard to note the lack of return on investment, however, when a highly-compensated player doesn’t produce at a high level, which is why Clay comes in at number eight on this list.
2017 Cap Hit (per Spotrac): $9 million (5.8% of 2017 Cap)
2017 Cap Hit Rank by Position: 4th among tight ends
2017 Vital Stats: 13 games, 13 starts (54.66% offensive snaps), 74 targets, 49 receptions, 558 yards, 2 TDs
In terms of Buffalo’s offense, Clay was the second-most important skill position player for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, trailing only LeSean McCoy in terms of overall importance. However, Clay’s performance related to his production overall was not in line with his compensation. Pro Football Focus graded Clay as below-average, as the tight end earned a 60.4 grade for the year, which was 30th among tight ends.
While Clay was an important part of Buffalo’s offense, when a player is in the top five in terms of overall cap hit, he’s expected to be an elite-level player. Clay was not in 2017.