Free Agent Files: Chad Clifton

Posted on February 23, 2010 by Patrick Moran

(We’re running a series profiling players that could fit into the Buffalo Bills’ plans leading up to the start of free agency on March 5.  Today we look at Green Bay Packers left tackle Chad Clifton)

Like many other positions, the pickings at offensive tackle in free agency appear to be slender.  More so than other spots, the lack of a collective bargaining agreement hinders the talent pool, which would’ve included Jammal Brown and Marcus McNeil among others.

One intriguing veteran for the Buffalo Bills when the shopping spree commences could be Green Bay Packers tackle Chad Clifton.  Let’s not kid ourselves here; Clifton’s best days are long behind him and he’s no lock to stay healthy for a full season at 34 years old. But when he’s on the field he’s one of the more steadfast tackles in the game and could be a quality short term asset for the club.

He missed much of 2009 after suffering an ankle injury in September and hurt the same right ankle two more times. He also had arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees during the 2008 offseason in hopes of alleviating chronic pain.

So the question for Clifton is pretty straight forward.  Does he have enough left in the tank for another 16-game season?

For the sake of discussion, let’s say he does.  One scenario could be to get a quality veteran like Clifton in tow for Buffalo to start in 2010 and mentor Demetrius Bell along the way.

Bell was the unfortunate victim of being overvalued by Dick Jauron last year.  The budding left tackle is not without talent, but was clearly too raw and inexperienced to be thrust into the starting left tackle spot before he was ready.  As a result, Bell struggled badly before succumbing to an ACL injury.

Jamon Meredith is another offensive tackle on the roster gifted athletically but still wet behind the ears and badly in need of more seasoning.

If Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey see enough natural talent in Bell and/or Meredith but don’t want to mortgage 2010 with them in the lineup, bringing in a veteran like Clifton could be wise.  It gives them an immediate upgrade on the line and buys them another year to develop their youngsters.

While the odds are astronomically high the club will take an offensive tackle with the ninth pick in the draft, they shouldn’t be forced to automatically pull that trigger.  Every position they can address through free agency and trade should be explored and that includes offensive tackle.

Let’s paint a picture on draft day that top rated tackle Russell Okung is off the board at nine and Nix for whatever reason isn’t completely sold on Bryan Bulaga and Anthony Davis.  The last thing the Bills want to be is hamstrung on a tackle if he’s not graded at the proper value.  Maybe a guy like Dez Bryant or Derrick Morgan is rated a lot higher on Nix’s board than Bulaga or Davis.  Having a veteran starter and allowing Bell and Meredith more time to grow gives him the option to go with the best player instead of the best tackle.

The Bills need players at specific positions, but most importantly they need talent—a lot more of it.

Possibly more than any position on the roster, it’s on the coaching staff and talent evaluators to determine what potential Bell and Meredith have. If it’s concluded they have futures as a starter, then bringing a guy like Clifton into the mix for a year could be the smart thing to do.

Previous Files: Jimmy Kennedy, Nick Eason, Kevin Walter, Chad Pennington

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1 Comment on Free Agent Files: Chad Clifton

  1. Free Agent Files: Tully Banta-Cain : Buffalo Sports Daily

    [...] Files: Jimmy Kennedy, Nick Eason, Kevin Walter, Chad Pennington, Chad Clifton, Tony [...]

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