clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fan opinion: What should the Buffalo Bills do at tight end this offseason?

New, comments

Lots of options.

The Buffalo Bills got good-not-great production out of their revamped tight end position in 2019. This offseason, there are a lot of different directions the team could go to maintain or upgrade at the spot. This week, we offered a multitude of observations and options at the position. Now it’s time for you to let us know what you think the team should do.


Excerpt: All-22 Analysis of Tyler Kroft

(By Jeff Kantrowski)

In a lot of ways, Kroft is superior to rookie Dawson Knox. Hand fighting specifically, and blocking in general all lean toward Kroft being the better player. Knox is the more dynamic receiving option. Tyler Kroft is a capable tight end who could likely benefit quite a few rosters. The question for us, though, is: Does his presence benefit the Buffalo Bills?

While I think Kroft is currently a more refined player in many ways to Knox, I don’t think it’s a huge gap. Looking forward to the 2020 season and which player is more likely to improve means that Kroft will continue to be the backup. The current winds are suggesting the Bills will lean heavily toward one tight end on the field at any given time. With all of those factors converging, it’s likely Kroft will not return for a second season in Western New York.

For the full analysis with GIFs, read the full article here

Excerpt: All-22 Analysis of Lee Smith

(By Jeff Kantrowski)

We all know I’m a fan of Lee Smith hence the random play selection. There’s still a chance I’m using the above plays and unfairly extrapolating these to conclude these are the way you can expect him to play every down. On that you’ll have to decide whether or not to have faith in my objectivity. I will assure you I watched a lot more than these seven plays and, yeah, Smith is good. I would trust him to block defensive ends before most extra linemen. I would trust him to pick up a chunk here and there. And I’d definitely trust him to consistently block with the best of them.

With all that said, I feel the same way about Smith as I do Patrick DiMarco. Both are great at what they do, but you need to have a plan for them. If Lee Smith is part of the plan it’s highly unlikely they’ll find any player better than Smith that brings this skill set to the table. A diminished role in the offense (like we saw the second half of the season) makes it harder to justify keeping him on the team.

For the full analysis with GIFs, read the full article here

Excerpt: Salary cap implications of releasing Tyler Kroft

(By Matt Warren)

2020 cap hit: $6.4 million
Salary due: $4.45 million
Roster bonus: $750,000
Workout bonus: $100,000

Dead money if cut: $1.6 million
2020 cap savings if cut: $4.8 million
Cash savings if cut: $11.66 million over next two seasons

For a full rundown of the salary cap information, read the article here

Excerpt: Salary cap implications of releasing Lee Smith

(By Matt Warren)

2020 cap hit: $3.25 million
Salary due: $2.65 million
Roster bonus: $500,000
Workout bonus: $100,000

Dead money if cut: $1 million
Cap savings if cut: $2.25 million

For a full rundown of the salary cap information, read the article here

Excerpt: Young players could serve as in-house replacement options at tight end

(By Matt Warren)

Rookie Dawson Knox became the de facto starter during the 2019 season after Kroft suffered his offseason injury. Knox seized the opportunity and made a huge leap from his college career to his rookie season. If Buffalo wanted to roll him out as the starter in 2020, I don’t think many folks would mind (as long as he doesn’t drop the ball figuratively and literally).

If the Bills had Knox, mainly blocker Tommy Sweeney, and mainly receiver Jason Croom as the three tight ends on their roster to start 2020, they would certainly be young and inexperienced at the position. It would probably be their weakest position group on the roster, frankly. But each of the three would bring something to the table in terms of talent and the potential would be there.

For a full breakdown of the tight end position on the current Bills roster, read the full article

Excerpt: Free agent options at tight end lend by a familiar face

(By Max Liebel)

Greg Olsen
Although he turns 35 in March, Olsen is the best option among this year’s free-agent tight ends. Olsen’s age and health are in question, but he would still likely be the Bills’ best option at the position heading into the season. His veteran leadership might just be what Knox and Sweeney need.

Hunter Henry
Hunter Henry is probably going to be the most expensive tight end on the market this offseason but as we’ve already established, the Bills have the money to pay him. Henry is quickly establishing himself as one of the league’s premiere tight ends and with Phillip Rivers out of L.A. and the team in football limbo, Henry could very well be in a different jersey next season. If the Bills managed to bring in Henry it most likely means Knox would take a back seat.

Eric Ebron
Ebron is just two years removed from a Pro Bowl nomination when he hauled in 13 touchdown passes. With Jack Doyle seeming to be the guy for the Indianapolis Colts, Ebron is set to hit the open market in 2020. His injury history is concerning but, like Olsen, he would provide a veteran voice in the tight-end room and would be the Bills’ best option come Week 1.

Tyler Eifert
Eifert is another case of a player who’s injury prone but would bring a lot to the locker and film/meeting rooms. Eifert would be a relatively cheap get for the Bills and again would bring in some much-needed experience.

For a full breakdown of the multiple free agent options, read the entire article here

Excerpt: NFL Draft options at tight end

(By Andrew Griffin)

Tier I

Brycen Hopkins (Purdue)
Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)
Hunter Bryant (Washington)

Hopkins has the size and overall presence of a Jimmy Graham on the field while having the frame to grow into a more complete role. If you’re looking for a complete player at the position, look no further than Kmet, who can block and catch equally well. Bryant has the size and speed of a wide receiver but he struggles with drops, which might keep him from being a first-round selection.

Tier II

Thaddeus Moss (LSU)
Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)
Adam Trautman (Dayton)

Tier III

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)
Cheyenne O’Grady (Arkansas)
Jacob Breeland (Oregon)
Colby Parkinson (Stanford)

For more information on Tier II and Tier III, read our full breakdown here

Opinion excerpt: Knox is the future, so sign Olsen and kill two birds with one stone

(By Nick Battilana)

Dawson Knox has no doubt benefited from having consummate pro Lee Smith on the roster as a de facto tutor in being a professional NFL tight end. With no offense meant to Smith or Kroft, there is little doubt that Greg Olsen’s skill set and expertise would provide Knox a whole new level of mentorship if he were to join that offensive meeting room.

With Knox currently being the obvious future for the Bills at the tight-end position, Olsen’s ability to contribute more both on and off the field than the Bills’ current tight-end veterans, the culture fit amongst the Bills’ current regime, Olsen’s prospective cap number, and the team’s cap flexibility—it seems like bringing Olsen to Buffalo and moving on from Tyler Kroft is an obvious opportunity that Brandon Beane should be kicking the tires on.

As always it takes two to make a deal, and perhaps Olsen doesn’t find Buffalo a desirable destination for this next and perhaps final stage of his career. In my opinion, that is possibly the only reason that this signing should not happen.

Read the entire opinion piece here


Now it’s your turn to tell us what you want to do at tight end this offseason. If you’re using a mobile device, you may have to go to a web browser instead of using Apple News or Google AMP if you’d like to vote.

Poll

What should the Bills do at tight end this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Keep Kroft, Smith, Knox, and Sweeney as status quo
    (38 votes)
  • 4%
    Roll with Knox, Smith, and Sweeney, cut Kroft
    (39 votes)
  • 2%
    Roll with Kroft, Knox, and Sweeney, cut Smith
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    Roll with Kroft, Knox, and Croom cutting Smith & Kroft
    (14 votes)
  • 29%
    Sign a free agent, jettison Kroft
    (236 votes)
  • 9%
    Sign a free agent, jettison Smith
    (73 votes)
  • 44%
    Sign a free agent, jettison Kroft & Smith
    (354 votes)
  • 3%
    Use the draft to upgrade the position
    (25 votes)
802 votes total Vote Now