Charles Clay Will Visit the Browns; A Nuanced Situation
While most believed Charles Clay would be staying in Buffalo and signing a contract offer with the Bills, the Cleveland Browns are still in the game. Clay, the Miami Dolphins Transition Tag Tight End, will be visiting with the Browns, leaving Buffalo with out signing an offer:
As we know in the case of Trent Cole, leaving a town opens up the chance that a player will not be signing. Cole left Cleveland and visited with the Colts before signing with them. Clay is leaving Buffalo to visit Cleveland but his situation could be quite different.
As the Dolphins Transition player, Clay may have to be patient in order to get the contract and new team that he wants. It is possible that Clay and the Bills have a reasonable agreement on a contract but want to wait until the Dolphins have less salary cap space available before they sign it. The Dolphins structured their mega-deal with Ndamukong Suh in a way that gives them flexibility. Shortly after that was revealed Clay and the Bills seem to have agreed to move on for now.
Clay now knows the market that he has. He will expect that the Bills offer is the floor that he can expect and can go see what the Browns have to say. Mike Pettine can help persuade him to Cleveland and OC John DeFilippo, who helped lure both Josh McCown and Brian Hartline, can highlight how important the tight end position is in his offense.
The Browns are not big fans of overspending but, in conversations with Clay’s agent, have to have some understanding of the financial ballpark that Clay is expecting. That they are hosting him means they plan on being competitive with their offer. Clay may make his decision based on money, the coaching staffs, location and how he will be used. The Browns have control over two of those things, money and usage. Flip’s offense will likely highlight the tight end so can the Browns compete financially?
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Clay’s best season came 2 years ago when he had 69 catches and 6 TDs. Much like Hartline, Clay’s numbers fell a bit last year with the new offense brought in. Clay is a solid combination tight end. He is strong at the point of attack, can move fluidly and has good hands. His size/speed combination is impressive. He isn’t the Jimmy Graham type match-up nightmare but he is a solid all around player.
With the cap space the Browns have they may be willing to sign Clay quickly to an offer sheet instead of waiting. The Bills, with less cap space, may want to have Clay wait things out. Last year, Alex Mack‘s Transition Tag took awhile to play out, with the Jacksonville Jaguars actually signing him to an offer sheet that the Browns matched. It will be interesting how Clay’s situation plays out.
What do you think about Charles Clay visiting with the Cleveland Browns?
Next: Making Sense of Browns Free Agency: Day One (Stop Complaining)