The Buffalo Bills had one of the league’s best aerial attacks last season, but one position group was notably quiet in the passing game — tight ends.
The combination of Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith and Dawson Knox combined for 442 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020, and the group is seen as a target for upgrade in the offseason. But one insider believes Buffalo should give another chance to one of the most promising members of the group after a season hampered by injury and a stretch lost to COVID-19.
Insider Says One Tight End Could Still Become Productive
In his breakdown of offseason priorities, Sal Maiorana of the Democrat & Chronicle wrote that he is not ready to close the book on Dawson Knox despite his early struggles. While Maiorana acknowledged that Knox has not shown great numbers through two seasons — just 52 catches for 676 yards and five touchdowns — he believes the tight end could still develop into an effective player.
“I know I’m in the minority on Knox, but I still think the kid has a chance to be a solid, productive tight end in the NFL,” he wrote.
Maiorana added that Knox has the tools to be an effective tight end, including good athleticism and an ideal frame at 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds. He believes the Bills would be better off giving Knox another chance rather than overpaying for a replacement.
“Many people are all over the Bills making a trade to acquire Zach Ertz from the Eagles,” he wrote. “He’s 30 years old, coming off an injury-plagued season, and his cap hit in Philly is scheduled to be $12.1 million. Overpaying him to play in an offense that lines up mostly in three-wide sets with a back and one tight end wouldn’t be a great use of limited resources.”
Bills GM Critical of Tight Ends
For Bills general manager Brandon Beane, the season-ending loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game made it abundantly clear how far the team had to go in the tight end department. Chiefs star Travis Kelce caught 13 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns, the second time during the season that he gave fits to the Bills defense.
In a season-ending press conference, Beane said the game made it clear that the Bills needed to upgrade while also hinting that they were looking for more out of Knox and other returning tight ends.
The #Bills seem intent on adding a TE this offseason. So, who fits them both schematically & financially?
I took a deep dive into the film to see the strengths & weaknesses of each player, and who fits the #Bills the best.
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) March 8, 2021
“At the end of the day, we’d love to have a guy like what we just faced in Kansas City — they don’t come very often. But that’s what we want,” he said, via ESPN. “We’ve got some guys here we want to continue to develop and see what happens. Obviously, if there’s ways to add competition, whether that’s in free agency or the draft, we would do that, as well.”
Other insiders predict that the Bills could eye an outside tight end to round out the group. The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia reported that the team is intent on adding a free agent, noting that they appeared likely to bring in a more dynamic tight end who could snag a larger share of targets.