Veteran Bills TE ascending into leadership role after offseason turnover

Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox is suddenly an elder statesman in the team's locker room.
Jan 7, 2024; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (88) reacts after the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2024; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (88) reacts after the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Dawson Knox is by no means an old player.

A veteran, sure, but old? Hardly. The Buffalo Bills' tight end is in his sixth professional season, just a few years removed from being selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. At just 27 years of age and in the second year of his second contract, he’s been around the block, but there’s still significant tread on the proverbial tire.

That said, Knox is suddenly an elder statesman on a Buffalo team that saw significant turnover in the offseason. The Bills moved on from several stalwart starters in the spring in an attempt to free up long-term financial flexibility and generally get younger, a series of moves that left Knox as one of the team’s foremost longstanding figures. The sixth-year player is the Bills’ most tenured pass-catcher; in fact, only five players (Reid Ferguson, Dion Dawkins, Matt Milano, Josh Allen, and Taron Johnson) have been with the team longer than the former Pro Bowler.

It’s been a strange realization for Knox—himself just recently a player who attempted to soak up as much information as possible from veterans, he’s now a presence whom younger players go to for advice and guidance. His standing as one of the team’s most tenured figures has prompted him to take on a leadership role, a task he’s fulfilling in his own unique way.

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“I think it definitely adds a little sense of urgency to be more of a vocal leader,” Knox told reporters after Wednesday’s minicamp practice at One Bills Drive “I think my leadership style is more one-on-one, more personal, more locker room stuff. I’m not going to be the guy giving hype speeches or doing any of the rah-rah gameday stuff, but I think realizing now, I think Josh and Dion are the only guys on the offense that have been here longer than me.

“I think it’s just taking that leadership to the next level, having that extra confidence to speak up when I see something that might not be going right or check on a guy that might be not doing well off the field. I think it’s definitely an added level of responsibility but I’ve been enjoying it so far.”

Knox will look to round out his newly-adopted leadership role with rebounded production in the upcoming campaign—he’s coming off an injury-hampered 2023 season in which he set career lows in receptions (22) and receiving yards (186). With second-year tight end Dalton Kincaid ahead of him on the depth chart, Knox appears to be settling into a more complementary pass-catcher role with additional use as a blocker; that said, he’s a demonstrably talented receiving option, as he’s caught 171 passes for 1,966 yards and 22 touchdowns throughout his professional career.


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Kyle Silagyi

KYLE SILAGYI