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91 players in 91 days: Tight end Tommy Sweeney

One of two tight ends Buffalo drafted in 2019, Sweeney has a longer climb to making the 53-man roster than his draft counterpart

NFL: DEC 29 Jets at Bills Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have made plenty of changes this offseason, but one position has remained entirely static. The tight end group that enters the 2020 season consists of the same group of players that ended the 2019 campaign on the Bills’ roster. While that may not seem like a tremendously important detail, it’s remarkable given the amount of yearly turnover in the NFL.

In today’s edition of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile one of the younger players on Buffalo’s roster—a tight end who enters his second season.

Name: Tommy Sweeney
Number: 89
Position: TE
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 251 lbs.
Age: 24 (25 on 7/1/2020)
Experience/Draft: 1; selected in the seventh round (No. 228 overall) by the Bills in the 2019 NFL Draft
College: Boston College
Acquired: Seventh-round draft choice

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Sweeney enters the second year of his rookie contract, a four-year pact that totals $2,616,184 overall. Of that total, $96,184 is guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. For the 2020 season, Sweeney carries a cap hit of $699,046 if he makes the final roster; if he is released, the Bills are on the hook for a $72,138 dead-cap charge.

2019 Recap: Thanks in part to injuries at the position, Sweeney opened the year on the active roster while Jason Croom and Tyler Kroft were hurt. Croom was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the regular season, and Kroft was on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for the first six weeks of the year. Sweeney was active for the first five weeks of the year while Kroft recovered, and he played a fair number of snaps for a third tight end. Over the first three weeks of the year, Sweeney averaged right around 30% of the team’s offensive snaps, though he saw that number reduced considerably in Week 4 (11%) and Week 5 (25%). Sweeney was inactive until Week 17, where he played 63% of the snaps in the team’s loss to the New York Jets. In that game, Sweeney made five catches for 76 yards, bringing his rookie season totals to eight catches for 114 yards.

Positional outlook: Sweeney finds himself battling the same cast of characters as last season, as Tyler Kroft, Dawson Knox, Lee Smith, Jason Croom, and Nate Becker are all back in the fold. Knox is the long-term starter at the position, and thanks to a contract restructure, Kroft isn’t going anywhere this year. Sweeney will have to overtake the veteran blocking specialist in Smith or a more athletic player in Croom, a former collegiate wide receiver, in order to make the roster in 2020.

2020 Offseason: Nothing new to report, though Sweeney was among the group of players who worked out with quarterback Josh Allen in Florida recently.

2020 Season outlook: Sweeney could be considered anywhere from the third tight end to the fifth tight end on the roster, though it’s more likely that the coaches view him as either option number four or five. The battle for the last spot or two is going to be a tight one, with Sweeney battling Smith and Croom for two spots at most. I think that the team views Smith as the best option as the third tight end, and while I may disagree, I don’t call the shots. If the team goes with four tight ends again, Sweeney will have to make sure that he stays ahead of Croom to have a shot at making the roster.