- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the free-agent signing period approaching, we'll take a closer look at each of the Buffalo Bills' free agents, finding the closest matches in last offseason's free-agent class:
Pending Bills free agent: Scott Chandler
Position: Tight end
Experience: 6 seasons
2013 stats: 16 games played (7 starts), 53 catches, 655 yards, two touchdowns, one lost fumble
2013 snaps: 79.1 percent (offense), 13.8 percent (special teams)
Last offseason's closest match: Benjamin Watson
Experience: 9 seasons (entering 2013)
2012 stats: 16 games (14 starts), 49 catches, 501 yards, three touchdowns (for Cleveland)
2012 snaps: 82.7 percent (offense), 13.1 percent (special teams)
Signed with: New Orleans Saints
Contract: 3 years, $1.2 million signing bonus, $250,000 roster bonus in 2014, $250,000 roster bonus in 2015, base salaries of $950,000 (2013), $1 million (2014), $1.2 million (2015)
Overview: Watson, a former first-round pick, had three productive seasons with the Browns. At 32, Watson's deal last offseason was likely the last significant payday of his career. Yet, despite an injury to Jimmy Graham last season, Watson never found a niche within the Saints' offense. He started seven games but caught just 19 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Last offseason's second-closest match: Jared Cook
Experience: 4 seasons (entering 2013)
2012 stats: 13 games (5 starts), 44 catches, 523 yards, four touchdowns, one lost fumble (for Tennessee)
2012 snaps: 47.2 percent (offense), 3.2 percent (special teams)
Signed with: St. Louis Rams
Contract: 5 years, $5 million signing bonus, $3 million roster bonus, base salaries of $3 million (2013), $3 million (2014), $7 million (2015), $7 million (2016), $7.1 million (2017)
Overview: The Rams may have overpaid for Cook, who battled through a shoulder injury in 2012. His best season prior to coming to St. Louis was in 2011, when he caught 49 passes for 759 yards. He put up similar numbers last season in St. Louis, posting 51 catches for 571 yards and five touchdowns, but it's tough to say he was a difference-maker within the Rams' offense.
Verdict: Chandler's agents will likely look at Cook's contract and lick their chops. Thriving off inconsistency at wide receiver last season, Chandler put up career highs that are very much on par with Cook's numbers in Tennessee. The comparisons don't end there: Chandler is 28, while Cook was 26 when he signed his deal last March. On the other hand, the Bills could argue that Chandler doesn't have the same athletic ability that Cook has, and that the Rams vastly overpaid for him last offseason. It's fair to assume that the Bills will offer Chandler something more in line with Watson's deal and then potentially look to the draft for a tight end with more upside. Chandler, meanwhile, could find a more lucrative contract on the open market.