Bills general manager Doug Whaley made their positional needs plain last month at the NFL combine. In their Greg Roman-led offense Buffalo would have to add tight ends to the roster. The club didn't wait long to try and augment the talent base at the position Tuesday when they scooped up Miami free agent TE Charles Clay in a private jet in south Florida to bring him back to Buffalo for a free agent visit.
Bills head coach Rex Ryan, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and tight ends coach Tony Sparano Jr. traveled on the private plane to demonstrate to Clay how serious their interest is in adding him to their roster. The trio of coaches was able to convince the free agent to join them on a return flight to Buffalo for a tour of One Bills Drive.
Clay, who just turned 26 last month, has been a significant part of Miami's offense the past two seasons with 127 receptions over that span with nine touchdowns. What makes Clay so attractive is his versatility.
The four-year veteran has demonstrated an ability to be an in-line tight end, line up detached, as an H-back and has even served as a fullback on occasion for the Dolphins.
Under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Buffalo's offense will use multiple tight end sets and a 'do-everything' talent like Clay would prove valuable if he can be paired with veteran Scott Chandler.
When Roman had a pass catching tight end in Vernon Davis and a multi-faceted tight end in Delanie Walker his first two years in San Francisco (2011-2012), the 49ers tight ends flourished pulling in a combined 148 catches for almost 1,900 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Clay, however, comes with a bit of a restriction. The Dolphins placed the transition tag on their free agent tight end giving Miami the right to match any offer sheet he agrees to sign with any other NFL club. The $7 million transition tag figure currently counts against Miami's 2015 salary cap.
If the Bills were to sign Clay to an offer sheet, the Dolphins would have five days to match the offer. If Miami chooses to match it would make Clay Miami's player again. If they decline to match Clay would join his new team after five days when the offer sheet becomes his player contract, and his new team would not owe the Dolphins any compensation.
Teams interested in signing Clay to an offer sheet do not need to offer the free agent tight end a contract commensurate in value with the Miami transition tag figure ($7M). An offer sheet can be constructed whatever way another NFL club deems appropriate.