The Buffalo Bills are reportedly looking at adding another weapon for Josh Allen, a move that could bolster a position group that under-performed in 2020.
The Bills have spent much of the offseason keeping their AFC East champion roster intact, re-signing key players like Jon Feliciano and Matt Milano. But they have also put some effort into improving talent around Allen, replacing the departing John Brown with veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and bringing in tight end Jacob Hollister, a former college teammate of Allen. Now, an insider suggests that there could be another move coming to add to the tight end group.
The latest Bills news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bills newsletter here!
Bills Target Former Steelers, Lions Pass-Catcher
Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported that the Bills have been in discussions with free-agent tight end Jesse James, who was recently released by the Detroit Lions. Pauline noted that the Bills had targeted James two years ago, and now could look to sign the 6-foot-7 pass catcher if they aren’t able to add tight end depth in the draft.
“The Bills are interested, but per my sources, they are not close to a contract,” Pauline reported. “It may be a situation where the Bills or another team agree to a deal with James on Day 3 of the draft if they can’t come away with a tight end in Rounds 2-4.”
James has been an effective red-zone target through his six NFL seasons, though he struggled in other aspects of the game. As Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation noted before the 2020 season, he failed to live up to his billing as a strong run and pass blocker.
“In the blocking department — which was supposedly a strength of James — he graded out as only the 46th best run-blocking tight end in the league, per Pro Football Focus,” the report noted.
“To make matters worse, his pass-blocking was 72nd out of 79 qualified tight ends.”
James is coming off two disappointing seasons with Detroit in which he had a total of 30 catches for 271 yards and two touchdowns. James had been more effective in his four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, including a 2018 campaign where he had 30 receptions for 423 yards and two touchdowns.
Bills Upgrading Tight End Position
Despite having one of the league’s most effective passing attacks last season, the Bills were not able to get much production out of the tight end group. The trio of Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith and Dawson Knox combined for 442 yards and eight touchdowns, with the group hampered by injury and COVID-19 setbacks.
After an AFC Championship game in which Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce torched the Bills to the tune of 13 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said the team would be doing more to bolster the position in the offseason.
“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.”