Buffalo Bills: Re-Signing Chris Gragg Will Help Passing Game
Chris Gragg had a good 2016 preseason for the Buffalo Bills, but missed the entire regular season due to an injury.
The Buffalo Bills had high hopes for an improved passing game in 2016, but injuries limited the team’s ability to execute through the air. Chris Gragg was one of the several players to suffer an injury, costing him his entire 2016 campaign.
Chris Gragg entered the league in 2013 when the Bills drafted him with their seventh round pick — 222nd overall pick. He wasn’t expected to have a big role, since the Buffalo Bills had Scott Chandler at the time.
Scouts loved his ability as a receiving tight end. Not only did he have the straight-line speed to get past linebackers, making him dangerous down the middle of the field, but he has great hands for a tight end and does well running after the catch. He brings with him a lot of talent on the receiving end, an area the Bills struggled to spark last season.
On the downside, he doesn’t have the skills to be a reliable blocker — which is important when you have the top rushing attack in the league.
Luckily, the Buffalo Bills have Charles Clay — one of the league’s top blocking tight ends. No one’s doubting the fact that Charles Clay will be with the team next season and will be the starter. With that being said, the Bills would be smart in re-signing Chris Gragg to work behind Clay.
When Buffalo needs a blocking tight end, they have Clay. On the other hand, if they want to have a receiving tight end, they have two options.
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One of the biggest things that could hold the Bills back is his injury history. It was an issue coming out of college and has been an issue throughout his short career. In his senior of college, Chris Gragg suffered a knee injury that limited him to just five games all season — hurting his draft stock.
He would suffer another knee injury in 2014 with Buffalo, which caused him to miss several games to end the season, before tearing his ACL in last year’s Week 3 preseason game vs. the Washington Redskins. After catching a 5-yard pass from E.J. Manuel, DeAngelo Hall tackled him with a low hit that would lead to the torn ACL. Chris Gragg would miss the rest of the season.
Several days later, the Buffalo Bills waived Gragg, but was told that he would remain with the team next season. That wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Chris Gragg was having a very productive preseason leading up to the injury. In addition to the 2 catches, 26 yards he had vs. the Redskins, Gragg grabbed a 14-yard catch vs. the Giants (Week 2) and also another 2-catch, 26-yard performance vs. the Colts (Week 1). He added a touchdown vs. the Colts.
Gragg is also familiar with the Buffalo Bills‘ organization, being with the team three years prior to missing last season with a torn ACL. He had his best season in 2015, when he totaled 12 catches for 150 yards (20 targets). Gragg played in 13 games and started four of them.
In those four games, he was out there for nearly 80% of the team’s offensive snaps and totaled 6 catches for 81 yards. The Bills didn’t use him much other than that, only totaling more than 20 snaps in two other games all season. His best game came against the Bengals, when he finished with 5 catches for 54 yards — a game he didn’t start.
The one thing I like most about Chris Gragg is his ability to get first downs — something the Buffalo Bills are in dire need of. Of his 12 catches during the 2015 season, 8 of them were caught for first downs and he averaged 12.5 yards per catch. In 2013 and 2014 combined, Gragg totaled 12 catches for 101 yards. Of those 12 catches, 8 of them were first downs as well — including two touchdowns.
I think Chris Gragg could help open up the passing game for the Buffalo Bills — no matter who is at quarterback next season. His ability to perform down the middle of the field could give Tyrod Taylor someone to trust in that area of the field. He would compliment Charles Clay well and serve as a good replacement if Clay were to get injured — something that was a lingering problem this past season.
His base salary for the 2016 season, if he didn’t get injured, would’ve been just $675,000 with a $690,000 cap hit. He won’t be expensive and I’m sure he would love to back in Buffalo as a member of the Bills.
Do you think the Buffalo Bills should bring back Chris Gragg? Leave your comments below!