The Buffalo Bills signed tight end Logan Thomas off the Detroit Lions practice squad in 2016. Thomas was making the transition from quarterback to tight end and is one of the few players remaining that pre-dates head coach Sean McDermott, largely because he’s been a cheap and suitable developmental player. Is this the year the team moves on from Thomas, or is he part of their plans to replace Charles Clay in 2019?
Converted quarterback Logan Thomas saw an increase in snap counts in 2018. However he also saw fewer than newcomer Jason Croom. Spolier alert: It’s likely safe to say Thomas won’t be taking over as the starter.
Thomas has only been a tight end for a few years and as a result, he is still learning the role. With occasional issues on timing, Thomas is sometimes more effective at taking himself out of a play than the defender.
There’s not much to show in the passing game. For starters, Thomas was only targeted 17 times all season. Eight of those targets came in this game against the Chicago Bears with Nathan Peterman under center. Another reason there’s not much to show is that Thomas doesn’t have a complex route tree mastered.
Logan Thomas hasn’t made a compelling case for himself. It’s clear he’s has put in a lot of effort to convert from quarterback to tight end, but still shows on a regular basis that it’s a new endeavor. Inconsistent blocking and an incomplete route tree negate his soft hands and high motor. Thomas could stick as a depth and special-teams player, with a decent probability of improving over time. However, the Bills should be on the lookout for a new tight end.
Buffalo can choose to place the Original Round Tender on Thomas, who is a Restricted Free Agent, which would mean a one-year, $2 million deal with no money upfront and no other guaranteed money. Essentially, they could place the tender on him and still release him all the way through final cuts without paying him anything but offseason pay. If Thomas signed a different deal with another team, the Bills would net a fourth-round pick from the tight end’s new team.
If not an RFA deal, it’s unlikely Thomas and his handlers would be interested in a multi-year league minimum deal. With Thomas set to accrue his final season before becoming an unrestricted free agent, if he were to have a breakout year in 2019 he would want to cash in next offseason.
The most likely outcome, then, is a one-year, league minimum deal for $720,000.
Internally, there is only one other tight end besides Thomas under team control heading into the 2019 season: Jason Croom.
Croom actually led Buffalo’s tight ends in receptions (22), yards (259), and touchdowns (one) last year, appearing in 15 games (three starts). Croom, 24, was more than serviceable in the blocking game, and he was more than capable in his route-running. Croom, who was a wide receiver at the University of Tennessee, was a pre-season breakout candidate last year, and should have an even bigger role in Brian Daboll’s offense in 2019—especially with how Croom (6-foot-5) can present match-up problems to the opposition. Croom would make a logical replacement for Clay if the Bills decide to part ways with the veteran.
This will be the hot name, as the veteran is coming off the best year of his career last season. Playing for the 4-12 Oakland Raiders, Cook led the team in targets (101), receptions (68), receiving yards (896), and receiving touchdowns (6). Even with Cook’s career year added in, his career average “slash line” is 46/587/3. Add in the fact that Spotrac speculates that Cook’s value is $7.1 million per annum on the open market, and it’s a hard pass for me.
The first of two Cincinnati Bengals to discuss, Uzomah stepped up in place of a pair of injured Tylers this season, breaking through for a career year. He caught 43 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns; coming into the season, he had totaled only 36 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns in three seasons. He is only 26, so his best years are probably in front of him; however, it would take a leap of faith to sign him and expect production that even equals Clay’s averages.
Another young player from the AFC North, this Pittsburgh Steelers bruiser was drafted three picks after Uzomah in 2015. He has managed a solid career in the Steel City, averaging 34 catches for 340 yards and three touchdowns per year over his career. He is a solid blocker with a big frame at 6’7” and 261 pounds.
Feeling lucky? Roll the dice on Eifert, easily the most gifted of all the available tight ends, but he is also the least likely to stay healthy. The former first-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2013 has only played in 43 games over his six-year career, as he has been sidelined by a stinger, an elbow dislocation, another stinger, an ankle injury (suffered in the Pro Bowl, no less), back surgery, a knee cyst, and a broken ankle. Yikes.
The Baltimore Ravens used a second-round pick on Williams in 2015, and he has largely been a disappointment. Williams caught 32 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown as a rookie, but he suffered a knee injury in his second year that has sapped much of his already-limited athleticism. Since the injury, Williams has made 31 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns in three seasons. He is a tenacious worker and a solid blocker.
Kaden Smith (Stanford)
Josh Oliver (San Jose State)
Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M)
C.J. Conrad (Kentucky)
Now it’s your turn to decide. What do you want the Bills to do with Logan Thomas in 2019?
What do you want to do with RFA Logan Thomas this offseason?
This poll is closed
Tender him at $2 million
Offer him the league minimum
Move on, adding players through the draft
Move on, adding free agent depth