In 2019, the Buffalo Bills showed a very well-established pecking order at tight end. The team overhauled the position, and not one player who played the position during a regular-season game for the Bills in 2019 was a member of the squad in 2018.
That pecking order was partially established due to injury but, as the season progressed and certain players returned to full health, that ranking remained in place. In 2020, the position appears to be one of the deepest on the roster overall.
In our latest installment of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile one of the outsiders at the tight end position.
Name: Nate Becker
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 264 lbs.
Age: 24 (25 on 3/24/2021)
Experience/Draft: 1; undrafted in 2019 NFL Draft
College: Miami (OH)
Acquired: Signed as UDFA with Buffalo on 6/5/19
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Becker’s current contract is a two-year deal worth a total of $1,398,000, of which $8,000 is guaranteed. If he makes the final roster, his salary-cap hit for the 2020 season will be $614,000.
2019 Recap: Becker signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent, but he was waived following the team’s rookie minicamp. He signed with the Bills and remained with the team throughout the preseason. He was cut when Buffalo made its final roster, but he re-signed with the Bills’ practice squad on September 12. He remained on the practice squad for the duration of the season. In the preseason, he did not make a reception, which comes as no surprise given his reputation as a blocking specialist.
Positional outlook: The Bills have Tyler Kroft, who will hopefully be healthy after breaking his foot two years in a row, along with Dawson Knox at the top of the depth chart (though not necessarily in that order). Following those two are Lee Smith, a veteran blocking specialist, as well as Tommy Sweeney and Jason Croom, who spent the 2019 season on injured reserve.
2020 Offseason: No news here thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak.
2020 Season outlook: It would take a lot of change, most likely in the form of injuries, for Becker to make the 2020 roster. With Kroft and Knox written into the roster in Sharpie, that leaves a battle for what will probably be two remaining spots between Smith, Sweeney, Croom, and Becker. If it were me, I would release Smith and keep Sweeney and Croom, as both of those players offer far more athleticism and ability as a receiver than Smith, who is essentially a sixth offensive lineman when he enters the game. Given the team’s affinity for a blocking tight end, though, I think it’s more likely that the final tight end spot comes down to a battle between Sweeney and Croom. In any case, barring injury, Becker will either be with Buffalo’s practice squad or another team in 2020.