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Free-agent tight end Greg Olsen to visit Buffalo Bills

Could this be the latest in the Panthers pipeline?

Greg Olsen, the veteran tight end formerly of the Carolina Panthers, will be making a free-agent visit with the Buffalo Bills this week, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It’s one of two visits he’s lined up, along with his former head coach Ron Rivera in Washington.

Olsen, 34, spent nine seasons playing for the Panthers, before the two parties mutually agreed to split following the 2019 season. He’s been one of the league’s best all-around tight ends for his whole career, with 718 receptions for 8,444 yards and 59 touchdowns plus a strong reputation for blocking prowess. A broken foot severely hampered Olsen during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but he returned in 2019 and managed a respectable 52/597/2 receiving slash.

The Buffalo Bills currently have four tight ends on their active roster, plus Nate Becker on the practice squad and Jason Croom on injured reserve. All four of those players are under contract for at least two more seasons, but if the Bills value Olsen’s veteran presence, that could make someone expendable. Dawson Knox is the team’s future at the position, but Olsen might be able to replace Tyler Kroft or Lee Smith—someone who’d expect to claim a significant share of snaps when healthy.

Kroft is the likely casualty here. His cap hit for the next two seasons exceeds a total of $13 million, but the team could cut him this year for only $1.6 million in dead cap. That would open the door to sign Olsen to a short contract in the neighborhood of $10 million. Not to mention, as Sal Capaccio noted, the production gap between the two players is massive.

Schefter mentioned Brandon Beane as an old buddy of Olsen’s, but that’s obviously not the only connection with this team. Olsen is good friends with Buffalo’s quarterback coach Ken Dorsey, he was coached by Rob Boras while playing in Chicago, and he’s obviously very familiar with Sean McDermott. If there’s mutual interest, it’s easy to see how this deal could work itself out in the end.