…can’t, can you?
When you think about long-standing issues and needs of the Buffalo Bills, it’s both difficult and ignorant to look past the tight end position. If you think about it, the team really has never had anyone that you’d consider an impact player at tight end, and honestly, they haven’t even had a good one since Jay Riemersma, who left the team in 2002. There have been minor bright spots throughout the Bills’ 51 year history – Riemersma, Pete Metzelaars, Keith McKeller… and that’s about it (and McKeller was more of a name than an effective player).
Lately, the team has suffered through even worse strain at the position – Tim Euhus, Mark Campbell, Ryan Neufeld, Robert Royal, Michael Gaines, and even the unfortunate situation with Kevin Everett in 2007. Needless to say, the team continues to search for a tight end that can truly help the team, that won’t be an afterthought, and that you won’t have to Google search just to remember who they are.
Currently, the ends on the roster consist of Jonathan Stupar, David Martin, Mike Caussin, Scott Chandler and Shawn Nelson. While head coach Chan Gailey’s systems are typically known for not utilizing tight ends, it could also be said that was due to his continued lack of talent at the position at each stop in his career. Gailey is a very adaptive coach, and he makes due with what he has – knows how to play to strengths and weaknesses. Still, the most promising talents out of this group are the still-young Stupar and Caussin. Nelson is in Gailey’s doghouse for repeated issues over the years and will likely be on the outs in a matter of weeks, and Martin is an aging vet that is an okay blocker and mediocre receiver with very little speed. Chandler could be a wildcard as well with his size and blocking ability, but his hands leave a lot to be desired.
There is a decent market on the free agent front, prospectively, when it comes to tight ends. Though all of these players may not be available, names like Zach Miller, Kevin Boss, and Owen Daniels top the list. More reasonable, attainable targets would be New Orleans’ David Thomas and Tennessee’s Bo Scaife – both solid receivers and decent blockers, Thomas better at blocking than Scaife.
Whether or not the team pursues one of the above (or anyone else via trade) is going to be very telling on Gailey’s confidence in Stupar and Caussin going forward. Either way, they’ll find a way to make things work – even if it’s at the expense of going another season with a roster of tight ends that noone’s ever heard of.