ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills have a contract offer already prepared in a bid to sign Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay once the NFL’s free agency period opens Tuesday.
A person familiar with discussions informed The Associated Press of the Bills’ plans on Tuesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not revealed its intentions.
Clay will become an unrestricted free agent, though the Dolphins have the right to match any offers after awarding the player a transition tag last week. The move ensured that Clay will make at least $7 million this season.
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The Bills’ offer cannot be made until after the NFL’s signing period opens. Under NFL rules, teams were barred from having any contact with Clay or his representatives during the league’s three-day negotiating period that opened on Saturday because the player was still under contract with the Dolphins.
The Dolphins will be active in free agency, and could have difficulty matching any offers made to Clay. Miami is the leading candidate to sign free-agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is expected to attract a contract topping $100 million.
Clay has been a four-year starter in Miami since being selected in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft. He had 58 catches last season for 605 yards and three scores. Overall, he has 161 catches for 1,809 yards and 14 touchdowns in 58 career games.
At 6-foot-3, and 255 pounds, Clay has the prototypical size and catching ability of a tight end that would fit the run- and short-pass oriented offense the Bills are introducing under new coach Rex Ryan and incoming coordinator Greg Roman.
Buffalo’s roster features just one established tight end, returning starter Scott Chandler. Other tight ends on the roster are sparingly used Chris Gragg and Marqueis Gray, who appeared in five games last season after the Bills claimed him off waivers.
The Bills, coming off a 9-7 finish, have already been busy upgrading an offense that finished 26th in the league last year. Coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman were hired in the offseason.
Last week, Buffalo acquired running back LeSean McCoy – the NFL’s 2013 rushing leader – in a trade with Philadelphia. In January, they took a gamble to improve their offensive line by signing guard Richie Incognito, who had been out of football since the middle of the 2013 season for his involvement in a bullying scandal with the Dolphins.
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