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Bills host TE Gary Barnidge on free agent visit

Bills host TE Gary Barnidge on free agent visit
Posted at 5:44 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 17:44:20-04

Just days after the end of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills -- even without the presence of a true general manager -- are still going on as though it's business as usual. And they've shown that they won't let an opportunity go to waste.

The Buffalo Bills welcomed in tight end Gary Barnidge to One Bills Drive for an official visit on Wednesday. Barnidge was just released by the Cleveland Browns on draft weekend, following the team's move up to select tight end David Njoku near the end of the first round.

Barnidge, 31, will be entering his ninth accrued season in the National Football League, having spent the past four years in Cleveland. He set a career high in 2015 with the Browns by catching 79 passes for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. In the six years leading up to his career year, Barnidge only caught 44 passes for 603 yards and three touchdowns.

Barnidge tailed off in 2016, bringing in 55 receptions for 612 yards and two touchdowns. Before Cleveland, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end spent four total seasons on the Carolina Panthers' active roster.

Joe B's Take

This pairing would make all too much sense for the Buffalo Bills. At this point in his career, Barnidge will likely start to fit into more of a complementary role as opposed to the primary one he held for the last two seasons in Cleveland.

The Bills definitively have a need for a second tight end on the roster that brings ability as a pass catcher for a few different reasons. First, they were reportedly after a couple of pass-catching tight ends in the early portion of free agency, with names like Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook having been linked to them.

Second, Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison favors a two tight end system and putting a more dependable pass-catching option at the position makes the Bills that much more of a dynamic offense. While Nick O'Leary proved to be a solid run-blocking asset last season for the Bills, he offered little as a valuable asset in the passing attack.

Just as O'Leary struggled to make a mark in the passing attack, Barnidge had a poor 2016 as a run blocker. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Barnidge ranked 50th out of 63 eligible tight ends last season in run blocking.

Despite that, Barnidge would bring a steady hand to the tight end position as a dependable pass-catching threat, and would also provide much-needed depth to a position that officially has only Charles Clay, O'Leary, Logan Thomas, and Blake Annen on the roster.

The clincher, perhaps? Barnidge played in Carolina for the first two years that head coach Sean McDermott was with the Panthers as defensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012. McDermott can feel comfortable with Barnidge as a person, and best yet knows precisely what the Bills would be getting with the addition.

It all adds up to being a perfect fit, considering the potential role Barnidge could play in Buffalo this season.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia