Even had Dawson Knox not broken his hand and undergone surgery that will force him to miss some time, the Buffalo Bills might have been interested in expanding the use of the tight end position, which could mean adding to that position group.
Keeping in mind how many years offensive coordinator Brian Daboll spent in a New England Patriots system that regularly employed four and sometimes five tight ends on the active roster, the Bills' offense could well evolve in that direction, especially with the way Knox has been playing this year.
The Bills this season have employed the "12" personnel grouping (one running back, two tight ends) for just 10% of their offensive snaps. That's the second fewest in the NFL, according to Sharp Football Stats. The only team that ranks below them is the Baltimore Ravens, who make up for that by going with the "22" set (two backs, two tight ends) a league-high 19% of the time.
But that could change if the Bills add an accomplished pass-catching tight end to go with Knox and Tommy Sweeney before next week's trade deadline.
Then again, the Bills might not want to mess with what works so well. In their preferred "11" package, they have a healthy 54% successful play rate, higher than all but the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Bucs.
With that in mind, here are three tight ends to watch as we creep closer to the deadline:
Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers might not be interested in doing business with a team they believe they might have to climb over again in January. But if they are, Ebron might be available.
After catching 56 in 15 games for the Steelers last year, he has just seven receptions in six games this year.
Ebron is still relatively young at age 28 and made the Pro Bowl for his work in the 2018 season, which saw him catch 66 passes for 750 yards and 13 TDs.
Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons
The former first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens has been passed on the depth chart by current first-round pick Kyle Pitts.
Hurst caught 56 passes for 571 yards and six TDs. last year. Not too shabby.
And, like Ebron, he's only 28.
Evan Engram, New York Giants
Engram is more of a long shot because his presence would essentially force the Bills to be more of a two tight end-oriented offense rather than just give them the option at times.
He also is on the last year of his rookie contract and almost certainly would command more in next year's free-agent market than the Bills would be prepared to surrender.
But if they want to go all in, he's coming off a Pro Bowl season and twice has finished with 60-plus catches in his career. At 27, he's also younger than Ebron and Hurst.