Is Charles Clay A Good Fit for the Bengals?


Dec 21, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay (42) goes up for the catch against the Minnesota Vikings in the second half of the game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

This off-season, the Bengals may be in the market for a tight end to replace the likely departing Jermaine Gresham.  The team should have ample opportunities, as they currently possess a diverse group of three tight ends in Tyler Eifert, Ryan Hewitt, and Kevin Brock.  Eifert is the pass-catching, potentially elite receiving target, Hewitt is the all-around player who can double of the team’s H-back if necessary, and Brock is the reserve player who offers the team a solid blocker to bookend the offensive line.  With a diverse group already in place, yet the need to add another player to the group, the Bengals could essentially add any type of tight end to the group.

Recently, Chris Simms of the Bleacher Report suggested that the team should add Charles Clay.

Simms sites Clay’s great versatility with an ability to line up as a receiver, tight end, or fullback as a reason for the Bengals to sign him.  Clay can provide the Bengals with an option in the middle of the field complementing Eifert and Hewitt’s skill sets.

Charles Clay has improved across his first four years in the league.  This past season his numbers dipped a bit, but should be attributed more to the Dolphins creating a more dynamic offense (adding Jarvis Landry) than it should be to any deterioration in his play; also, he missed a couple of games this year.  Clay’s steady improvement across his first four years in the league should only bolster teams’ confidence and interest in him as it proves he’s dedicated and developing; he had an especially good 2014 per Pro Football Focus.

The addition of Charles Clay to the Bengals’ offense would be a great idea.  His versatility would give the Bengals another dangerous weapon at tight end, and would allow the team even more versatility when lining up both he and Hewitt on a play; both players can play from the backfield or tight end position.

Charles Clay may not offer the size of Jermaine Gresham, but he certainly will offer his athleticism and versatility.  He should come at a reasonable price, possibly even demanding less of a cap hit than Gresham did this past season ($4.832 million), which should only add to any interest the Bengals may have in him.

Clay also has a significant advantage over Gresham when it comes to penalties over the past three years.  Gresham has averaged a penalty for every 124 snaps while Clay has only a penalty per 403.6 snaps (penalty statistics per while snaps counts per Football Outsiders).  This difference should bring joy to many fans who’ve been vexed by Gresham’s lack of focus over the years.

When looking for a tight end this off-season, the Bengals will undoubtedly have several options.  Charles Clay should be near the top of that list.

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