The Buffalo Bills threw the ball nearly 600 times last season, which was the second-highest total in franchise history. Josh Allen and Matt Barkley combined for 593 of the Bills’ 596 passing attempts, with Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie, and Jaquan Johnson adding in the other three. Of those attempts, the Bills targeted their tight ends just 68 times, focusing instead on the receivers to take the lion’s share of targets.
Whether that small target share was due to the fact that Buffalo’s receivers are among the most talented groups in the league, it’s just the design of the offense, or the tight ends just weren’t very good last season is open for debate (I’m with option one, for the record). The Bills still added some new blood at tight end to add competition at the position.
In today’s installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we profile the new guy in the tight end room—a plus athlete who could challenge the incumbent starter for both snaps and targets this season.
Name: Jacob Hollister
Height/Weight: 6’4” 245 lbs
Age: 27 (28 on 11/18/2021)
Experience/Draft: 5; signed with New England Patriots as UDFA following the 2017 NFL Draft
Acquired: Signed as UFA on 3/19/2021
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Hollister signed a one-year deal this offseason worth a total of $1,127,500, of which $137,500 is guaranteed. His cap hit for the year is $990,000.
2020 Recap: Hollister had a quiet year in his second season with the Seattle Seahawks. After setting career highs in receptions (41), receiving yards (349), and receiving touchdowns (3) during the 2019 season, his numbers dipped in 2020. Hollister caught 25 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns last year. He was targeted 40 times in 2020 after seeing 59 targets the year prior.
Positional outlook: Hollister joins a tight end room that returns nearly everyone from last season. Dawson Knox, Reggie Gilliam, Tommy Sweeney, Nate Becker, and Quintin Morris make up the rest of the positional group.
2021 Offseason: Hollister is healthy and participating in OTAs.
2021 Season outlook: Hollister is a good athlete (4.64 40-yard dash and a 36.5” vertical at his pro day) who has shown that he can produce with some opportunity. At worst, he is a better replacement in single tight end sets for Dawson Knox than someone like Tyler Kroft or Lee Smith, the two tight ends Buffalo allowed to leave in the offseason. With such a strong receiver group, expecting a tight end to do more than catch 35-40 passes in a season is setting the bar far too high, but if Knox falters, Hollister can step in and provide the Bills with steady play. Hollister is a former college teammate of Josh Allen’s, and in their final season together, Hollister caught 32 passes for 515 yards and seven touchdowns. Hollister is slated for TE2 snaps at worst, and he has some starting potential at a reasonable cost.