Can the Buffalo Bills Lure Dustin Keller from the New York Jets?
First of all, Keller won't warrant the kind of money that Mike Wallace will get, and he isn't as risky as Greg Jennings. And if Keller represents the Buffalo blue in 2013, Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets will be without one of their premier pieces on offense, allowing this potential signing to really make an effect in the AFC East.
The Bills' quarterback situation continues to remain a mystery at this point in the offseason. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tarvaris Jackson are slated to battle for the starting job, but one signing, cut or draft pick can change the course of the organization in the blink of an eye.
Regardless of who takes the reins on offense this season, the Bills' main priority should be to add playmakers to the offense. Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller are the marquee weapons for the Bills, but the team lacks efficient talent beyond that.
So while the Bills should go after a veteran receiver or a decent draft prospect as this offseason progresses, they should also set their sights on an AFC East foe in Keller.
Keller is a 6'2'' tight end who complements Scott Chandler. Keller, in a similar fashion to Dallas Clark, is a fantastic receiving option who can periodically line up in the slot to get even more opportunities to get the ball in his hands.
The Bills' new offense under Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett will enable them to have more receiving threats on the field at once. Lining Keller up at tight end would create mismatches on defense and provide the quarterback with a quality pass-catching option.
Injuries limited Keller to eight games last season, but his 2011 season was a major success. In that campaign two seasons ago, Keller notched 65 receptions for 815 yards and five touchdowns.
Keller is 28 years old and is entering the prime of his career. He and Chandler could team up to replicate the two tight-end system that is dominating the NFL.
Chandler is 6'7'' and is coming off of his best NFL season, recording 43 receptions for 571 yards and six touchdowns. He is the ideal third-down and red-zone threat, as well as a superior blocker. Keller is the more athletic of the two and would be more of a receiver/tight end hybrid, much like Clark was in Indianapolis. And everyone knows how successful Clark's tenure with the Colts was.
The beauty of Keller is that he is already an established player. There wouldn't be question marks or time needed for him to develop, nor would there be concerns about if he can play. He has proven himself to be a premier receiving threat at the position, and Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine can testify to that.
The New England Patriots have a fantastic setup with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The Colts are in great shape with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen teaming up at the tight end position. With these personnel establishments, there is always a quality safety net for the quarterback, and together, the tight ends constantly cause defensive lapses.
The Bills are at the point where they have a few playmakers but need to advance the offense to the next level. Keller is very athletic and has shown flashes of brilliance with the Jets, but he has yet to have one excellent season to prove his full potential. A stint with the Bills could prove Keller's worth among the top tight ends.
In Buffalo, Keller would be a featured threat in an offense that should soon be reloaded with skill players. The combination of him and Chandler would be exceptional and would simply allow for more success in the passing game.
While the Bills should sign Keller for their own reasons, weakening the crumbling Jets is simply icing on the cake.
So let Wallace, Jennings and Dwayne Bowe hog the headlines and steal the money this offseason. Keller may be just as effective for a fraction of the cost while still enabling the Bills to ink that long-awaited threat on offense.
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