After two days of word that the Buffalo Bills were highly interested in Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay in free agency, and after Clay visited One Bills Drive, the situation came to a head on Thursday afternoon and evening, in rather dramatic fashion. Let's review; if you're interested in the TLDR version, the Bills are still very much in the hunt for Clay, while Miami may be less inclined to match any offer for him.
The afternoon started off with word that the Dolphins were working to re-sign Clay to an extension, which was reportedly a priority for the team after wrapping up the signing of Ndamukong Suh.
RB intrigue in PHI, but TE intrigue in MIA. #Dolphins have Jordan Cameron in, but are trying to work out a long-term deal with Charles Clay— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2015
The notion that the Dolphins would be bringing Clay back was buttressed when reports surfaced that Jordan Cameron, the free agent tight end from Cleveland that visited Miami on Thursday, had re-signed with the Browns.
Jordan Cameron done w/ Cleveland, 2 yrs $15M, source says #Browns— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2015
But not long after, as Bills fans were lamenting that their team was going to lose out on their top free agent target, word surfaced that the initial reports on Cameron returning to Cleveland were false - and that, instead, he'd be signing that two-year, $15 million deal with the Dolphins.
Wild. After Jordan Cameron’s 2-year, $15M offer was reported, the #Dolphins jumped in. They are now negotiating with him. Hadn’t previously— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2015
NFL source tells Yahoo Sports it's done: Jordan Cameron has signed with the Miami #Dolphins.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 13, 2015
It was at this point that we pointed out the rules when teams remove the transition tag from a player. If Miami does so with Clay - more on that in a minute - the player immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team, with Miami having no final ability to match offers.
As that news was breaking, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News chimed in with an update on Clay, who had returned to Miami following his free agent visit and was still being pursued by the Browns, who had just lost Cameron to Miami. He added that Miami was still working to keep Clay, despite the Cameron signing.
Charles Clay has returned to Miami after spending 3 days in Buffalo. #Dolphins still trying to keep him despite signing Jordan Cameron.— Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) March 13, 2015
As to whether or not the Dolphins will actually remove the transition tag from Clay: multiple reports say that they will not. This likely will not affect the offers that Clay receives from other teams too drastically, but Miami would retain the right to match any offer that Clay and his agent gives to them.
Per source, Dolphins do not intend to rescind transition tender from TE Charles Clay.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 13, 2015
As for the Browns and their reported interest in Clay? As of Friday morning, the general sentiment is that they are running behind the Bills in the race.
Hearing the #Browns are not a threat to land Clay.— Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) March 13, 2015