Bills host free agent Barnidge

NFL Buffalo

CLEVELAND, OH – DECEMBER 24: Gary Barnidge #82 of the Cleveland Browns is tackled by a member of the San Diego Chargers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Buffalo was the first stop for newly released tight end Gary Barnidge. 

The Browns sent Barnidge packing Friday after landing tight end David Njoku in the first round of last week’s draft. 

Barnidge has 134 catches over the last two seasons, 26 more than anyone on the Bills since 2015. 

He was a Pro Bowl alternate two seasons ago after a 79 catch year. 

Barnidge will reportedly take a break from his free agent tour, to watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend. He’s thought to have Jacksonville and Carolina on his itinerary. 

There’s not much to dislike about this idea from the Bills perspective. 

Barnidge would be another big target at 6-5. Tyrod Taylor seemed to find a comfort level using size to his advantage last season, especially with Justin Hunter. 

Blocking is not a liability. Barnidge was among the top pass blockers for tight ends last year according to Pro Football Focus and was passable enough as a run blocker. 

He also checks all the leadership/community boxes Sean McDermott loves. Barnidge was the Browns Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2015. 

Despite the deserved hype surrounding Bills second round pick Zay Jones, it will be hard to count on a rookie contributing right away in Rick Dennison’s expected plan to run a West Coast style offense. 

That would leave Sammy Watkins (if healthy) and Charles Clay as the only dependable receivers, with LeSean McCoy out of the backfield. 

Barnidge would confidently expand that list by one and demand enough attention to open the field some for Buffalo’s more dynamic playmakers. 

Since he was released in April, Barnidge would likely come a bit cheaper than in March. Regardless, the Bills have cap space to accommodate him. 

He’ll be 32 in September, but wasn’t used a ton his first four or five years in the league. There’s still tread on the tires. 

It would be quite a late in the offseason coup if the Bills can get it done. 

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