The whispers became louder and louder and the 2013 NFL season progressed as whether the Buffalo Bills needed to replace tight end Scott Chandler, via free agency or the draft. Some people even questioned if he was good enough to be a starting tight end in the National Football League. Taking a closer look, the numbers reveal that Chandler was one of the most reliable and valuable pieces to the team this past season.
During this past NFL season Chandler, set a career high in both catches and receiving yards. Chandlers 53 receptions for 655 yards led all Bills players in those categories. Chandlers 655 receiving yards are also the second most by a tight end in Buffalo Bills team history, a record held by former Bills TE Paul Costa who had 729 receiving yards in 1967. Chandler has a reception in 32 straight games and is the first Bills tight end with back to back seasons of 500 yards or more.
If the Bills were to draft a tight end in the 2014 NFL draft they should do so during one of the later rounds of the draft. The leading receivers among rookie tight ends this past season were Tim Wright of Tampa Bay, and Jordan Reed from the Washington Redskins. Wright was an undrafted free agent and Reed was a third round pick. None of the tight ends drafted last year put up better numbers than Chandler. The pool of TE prospects for the 2014 NFL draft is deep, headlined by Jace Amaro of Texas Tech and Eric Ebron of North Carolina. There are seven prospects currently projected to be a fourth round pick or higher. Last season seven of the 16 tight ends drafted went between the first and fourth round, none ended up being consistent game changers as rookies.
During a year of inconsistent quarterback play, in a season that saw the Bills start 3 different quarterbacks one of whom was an undrafted free agent who was benched during his senior year in college, Chandler was the one Buffalo player who remained consistent. Chandler was the only Bills player to record a catch in every regular season game in 2013, he actually caught at least two passes in every game. Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson saw his numbers drop to a production level that was at it’s lowest since he became a full time starter in 2010, a testament to the inconsistencies the Bills had on offense this season. Chandlers numbers have become better every season since he has been the starting TE in Buffalo.
The list of tight ends who will be on the free agent market this summer is headlined by New Orleans Saints superstar Jimmy Graham. Players also available are Jermichael Finley of the Green Bay Packers and Ed Dickson and Dennis Pita both of the Baltimore Ravens. The Saints intend to use the franchise tag on Graham if necessary, Finley could be a decent pickup if he can stay healthy, Pita and Dickson are both intriguing options but neither are a sure thing. While Chandler might not be a stud TE like a Graham, Gonzales, Gates or Gronkowski, but he is reliable, a hard worker and relatively a cheap player to keep on the roster given his production and most importantly he likes Buffalo. Things will be interesting this summer at One Bills Drive, but fully expect them to commit to Chandler for at least the next two seasons.