Croom's teammate Tyler Kroft broke his foot during Monday's OTA session and will be sidelined for 3-to-4 months following surgery. Croom actually entered the offseason as the Bills' top tight end, though you could also say he was the only tight end under contract. Then the Bills beefed up their corps by signing Kroft and Lee Smith in free agency, while drafting Dawson Knox in the third round. That may have bumped Croom -- who finished 2018 with a 22/259/1 line -- all the way to fourth, though with Kroft's injury being significant, he'll have extra chances to stake his claim toward meaningful playing time, or at least a roster spot.
Croom likely needs to battle for a roster spot this summer, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports. Charles Clay signed with Arizona after he was released in February, but the Bills have since added Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith, Jake Fisher, third-round pick Dawson Knox and seventh-round pick Tommy Sweeney. Given the resources invested in each player, it's safe to assume the 53-man roster will include Kroft, Knox and probably Smith, potentially leaving the other three players to compete for a single spot. The 25-year-old Croom showed some potential as a pass catcher last season, bringing in 22 of 35 targets for 259 yards (7.4 YPT) and a touchdown in 15 games, including three starts late in the year. He went undrafted in 2017 and spent part of his rookie season on Buffalo's practice squad.
Croom, who had been the only tight end under contract for the Bills entering the start of the new league year, will now have competition for the starting job after the team signed Tyler Kroft on Wednesday. The Bills are compensating Kroft handsomely, but he doesn't have the pedigree to simply run away with the competition. Though Kroft had a 42-404-7 season in 2017 surrounded by three other seasons with very limited production, his arrival is nonetheless a severe hit to Croom's 2019 value. The Bills still like Croom's upside, as he's still learning the position after playing wideout during his college days at Tennessee. At best, Croom will be allowed to compete for the starting job, and there's some risk he could fall below No. 2 on the depth chart if the Bills invest an early round pick in another tight end during April's draft.
The Bills released Charles Clay on Friday, leaving Croom as the team's only tight end currently under contract. Logan Thomas is a restricted free agent and could be brought back, while the Bills have a ton of cap room this offseason and a slew of draft picks to invest in tight end. While there will certainly be competition coming in, Croom -- who caught 22 balls on 35 targets for 259 yards and one touchdown in 2018 (15 games) -- is clearly going to get a chance to piggyback off a somewhat successful first pro season. While Croom has yet to wow, the upside is there as a former wide receiver still learning the ins and outs of the position.
Croom finished the 2018 season with 22 catches on 35 targets for 259 yards and one touchdown in 15 games. While that wasn't exactly setting the world on fire, Croom did top starter Charles Clay and fellow backup tight end Logan Thomas in catches, yards and touchdowns. Clay has a better chance of being let go versus sticking with the team for one more high-priced season, so more opportunity could open up for Croom. However, the Bills have tons of cap room and extra draft picks, so the odds are good they'll be bolstering the tight end position this offseason, perhaps as a high priority after years of lackluster play. Most likely, Croom -- a former wide receiver in college at Tennessee who's still learning how to play tight end as a pro -- will get chance to compete for a No. 1 or No. 2 spot in 2019, but it'd be a surprise if he ended up as a clear-cut starter.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/08||@New York Jets||6||4.88|
|2||09/15||@New York Giants||19||7.38|
|4||09/29||New England Patriots||18||7.37|
|16||12/22||@New England Patriots||18||7.37|
|17||12/29||New York Jets||6||4.88|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||35||22||259||1||10||11.77||27|