Charles Clay, tight end for the Miami Dolphins, has the Buffalo Bills and Dolphins in a holding pattern. Ever since free agency opened on March 10, Clay was free to negotiate with other teams because he was given the transition tag by the Dolphins several days before.
From the start, two teams were interested - the Bills and the Cleveland Browns. Clay visited the Bills and spent two days with them, one of them being unplanned. He stayed for an extra day because he wanted to get to know the Bills a little more and also looked at neighborhoods in the area. After his trip to Buffalo and while he was on his way back to Miami, the Browns pulled out of the running, presumably because of the high cost that Clay will command.
When Clay arrived back in Miami, the Dolphins were busy wrapping things up with their latest signing, tight end Jordan Cameron. Soon after that deal was completed, the team reached out to Clay and his agent and told them they wanted to continue working on a long-term deal.
According to two people close to the situation, a deal was in the works and both sides were confident that something was going to get done. In fact, the Dolphins were almost certain a deal was going to get done and had hoped to wrap it up by the end of this past weekend. Then, something happened. Whatever it is, we don't know.
However, a report by Tim Graham of Buffalo News shed some light into the situation. On Saturday evening, he tweeted that a source informed him that the Dolphins have lost patience with Clay and had moved on. Immediately, I, along with several others, refuted the report. But now, after connecting the dots, it appears that Graham's report was partly accurate.
As I just mentioned, the Dolphins and Clay were working on a long-term deal until negotiations broke down. That's when the team stopped negotiating and said they would just wait it out for the offer sheet to come from the Bills. Once that happened, they would decide what direction they wanted to go in. So, in essence, they are moving on from long-term negotiations at this time but not necessarily moving on from Clay. This is why they haven't removed the transition tag.
On Monday evening, Vic Carruci of The Buffalo News said the Bills were 90% certain that they were going to land Clay. The only hold up right now is that the Bills are trying to figure out the best way to structure Clay's contract so the Dolphins can't match it. It's impossible to say at this point whether or not that's true because we have seen that Mike Tannebaum has been unpredictable with his moves this off-season thus far.
It will be interesting to see how much the Bills offer him and whether or not the Dolphins match it. If they do decide to match, they will sign Clay to those terms and he will have no choice but to come back to Miami. This saga has gone on long enough so hopefully it wraps up soon.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs