With just a few days remaining until the Buffalo Bills are required to trim their roster from 88 players to 53, a surprising position battle rages on.
Although the wide receivers have garnered most of the offseason attention among fans and the media, the tight end position has been just as intriguing. With six players currently scattered across the roster at the position, the Bills will need to make at least two, if not three, cuts in order to trim the depth chart before the end of Saturday. Here’s a look at each player’s status heading into the preseason finale against Chicago:
Charles Clay: The one sure lock at the position. Clay has certainly been serviceable since he signed that big free agent contract with Buffalo prior to the 2015 season. The biggest concern with Clay has been his ability to stay on the field and play at 100 percent. Although he’s missed only seven games in his three years in Buffalo, Clay’s injuries have nagged throughout the years and have caused the veteran to miss plenty of practices, as well as limiting him in games.
Despite some limitations, Clay is still the first tight end in Bills franchise history with back-to-back seasons of at least 50 receptions and 500 yards. He should prove to be a calming veteran presence for whichever young quarterback the Bills decide to start week one in Baltimore.
Logan Thomas: To me, Thomas has done enough to earn a spot on Buffalo’s 53-man roster. Although the production was not there in his 12 games with the Bills last season, the converted quarterback has done everything the team has asked as he attempts to be an even bigger red zone threat in 2018.
Thomas has improved his blocking skills, and with another full offseason of catching passes, he’s surely touched up his game in that area, as well. Curiously, Thomas didn’t appear in Buffalo’s third preseason contest until late in the second half. That can either be taken as a guarantee Thomas has earned a spot and the Bills wanted to give other guys a chance with the first team, or that Thomas is buried that far down the depth chart. I think it’s the former option, but Thomas will definitely get more playing time against the Bears and even further his chance to crack the roster.
Nick O’Leary: The fan-favorite has seemingly fallen out of favor with Buffalo’s coaching staff this offseason, but has still been given a chance to battle for a spot on this team. O’Leary has served as Clay’s primary backup for the last two seasons but hasn’t been consistent enough in that role for a guaranteed roster spot. O’Leary didn’t catch his first career touchdown pass until mid-November of last season in the Saints game, and while he’s made a few big plays in his career, he doesn’t have the offensive potential that some of the Bills’ other options do.
Jason Croom: Croom caught both of the passes thrown his way against the Bengals, including a touchdown grab that required quite a bit of work after the catch.
Looked like a snag concept. Croom to the flats for the touchdown. pic.twitter.com/qFitmLXyVF— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 26, 2018
He’s made the most out of the opportunities he’s gotten and has a legitimate chance to jump either O’Leary or Thomas on the depth chart. Reporters and coaches have also been complimentary of Croom’s work at training camp and practices, which also bodes well for the 24-year-old.
Keith Towbridge/Khari Lee: Seemingly the only way either of these guys cracks Buffalo’s roster is if the team decides to keep four tight ends after this weekend’s cuts. Lee has made a name for himself with his blocking ability and appeared in several games with the team last year. Towbridge, meanwhile, was on the team’s practice squad and appears to be a long shot at best to make the roster this season.
Predicted TE depth chart: Clay, Thomas, Croom, Lee