Rumors have been circulating for the last few days that the Buffalo Bills are interested in Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay. According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the Bills are preparing to make an offer to Clay. The transition tag, which Miami used on Clay this offseason, would pay him $7.071 million for the 2015 season, but he has the ability to work out a long term deal with another team as if he is a free agent. The tag gives Miami the right to match any offer.
The Dolphins clearly want to keep Clay, and are said to like the dynamics a Clay/Dion Sims tight end tandem gives to the team. They are willing to pay him in the $7 million a season range, as the transition tag shows, but will they go higher? How much will Buffalo throw at Clay to either steal Miami's starting tight end or force Miami to overpay?
Clay has indicated he prefers to stay in Miami. He wants to continue to develop with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and, despite missing games last year, the offense Miami is running still let Clay be third on the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. The situation in Miami is a good one for Clay. The monetary situation, if the Bills come out firing, could force Clay to accept a move to Buffalo.
This could be a game of chicken over the next few days, with the Bills daring Miami to match an offer, while the Dolphins weigh calling Buffalo's bluff. It also has a little of the Wes Welker restricted free agent feel. In 2007, the Dolphins placed a second round tender on Welker, who had just finished his third sasons in the league, and caught 67 passes for 687 yards and a touchdown that year. He was a developing receiver, but was not someone Miami expected to see garner a lot of interest.
In came the New England Patriots, who considered adding a poison pill to the contract they would offer Welker. Essentially, they would add a clause to the contract that, if Welker were to play a number of games in the state of Florida, he would get a huge bonus. Obviously, that clause would have no impact on New England, who would only play in Florida one time, but would crush the Dolphins if they used their right to match the offer. With the threat in place, and the league frowning on the idea of the poison pill, the Patriots and Dolphins worked out a trade where New England received Welker and Miami received a second-round and a seventh-round draft choice.
The Bills cannot use a poison pill on Clay (the league banned their use in the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement), but they can offer him money that would make it difficult for the Dolphins to match. It appears Clay is staying in the AFC East in 2015, it is just a matter of whether it is in New York or South Beach.