Cardinals TE Charles Clay Hitting Open Market as Veteran Asset

After a relatively productive 2019 season with the Arizona Cardinals, tight end Charles Clay is back in the unrestricted free-agent pool with leadership to provide.
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In his first year with the Arizona Cardinals, veteran tight end Charles Clay successfully fulfilled his role. He was a welcomed member of the unit grooming the likes of budding star Maxx Williams and red-zone threat Dan Arnold.

The 31-year-old played in 15 games in 2019 and made 10 starts, collecting 18 receptions for 237 yards (13.2 yards per catch) and one touchdown. He was targeted 24 times.

Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury virtually ignored the tight-end group through the first month of the 2019 season, but began to transition away from 10-personnel groupings and implement them more in the rotation leading to a three-game winning streak in Weeks 5-7. The Cardinals utilized 12-personnel looks for the majority of the season after that and by the end of 2019, only three NFL franchises snapped with two tight ends more frequently than Arizona.

The team signed Williams to a two-year, $7 million extension (per OverTheCap.com) after a 30-27 Week 10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Arnold was acquired via waivers from the New Orleans Saints and the 24-year-old contributed on the scout team and played in three games during the regular season.

With the emergence of Arnold as a pass-catching threat, Clay may be more expendable for a Cardinals organization that also has Darrell Daniels — who was a core special teams guy shifting between the practice squad and 53-man roster for a majority of last season — in its coffers. Clay earned a one-year, $2 million contract last offseason with Arizona and has similar value heading into unrestricted free agency this time around.

A steady veteran presence, Clay was taken in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft from Tulsa by the Miami Dolphins. He spent four years on South Beach before signing a five-year, $38 million deal with the Buffalo Bills in 2015. During his tenure there, Clay became the first Bills tight end with back-to-back seasons of 50-plus receptions and 500-plus receiving yards.

He spent four years in Buffalo before his latest stint in Arizona. He would be a valuable asset for a team with a young tight-end corps needing leadership and stability.

*Watch the accompanying film review and analysis of Clay by former NFL scout Marc Lillibridge via his Bridge’s Breakdown.*