Buddy Nix tends to be pretty honest in his rare meetings with the media. Maybe that's why he doesn't do it that often. Re-reading the transcript of last Monday's season-ending press conference, I was again struck by one of his more candid responses, when asked how much importance he puts on re-signing tight end Scott Chandler:
"If we can keep him at the right price, we will. You look at the guys, and I’m just saying what I said awhile ago, a lot of it’s when they get their opportunity, like C.J. When Chan came here, Stevie Johnson couldn’t get on the field, Ryan Fitzpatrick was a second or third thought at quarterback…Scott Chandler going into this year caught one ball in his career, one. [San Diego] drafted him in 2007, so I guess my point is those guys are probably more productive and more important to us than they may be to somebody else. I don’t know that. They [players] may want to find out. If they do and it’s more and they get what they want, more power to them. But I’m just saying that a lot of times that grass looks a lot greener but it may not be."
Nix echoes what I've been saying about Stevie Johnson lately: That Johnson's production the past two years has been a result of getting an opportunity on a team with few viable receiving weapons. He's produced like a No. 1 receiver here, but he was targeted much more often than he would have been on a team with more weapons.
As it pertains to free agency, Nix seems to be saying that Chandler and Johnson will be overvalued in free agency because they were major offensive targets by default. As Nix said, they might not be that productive elsewhere. If someone wants to pay them like elite receivers at their positions, so be it. But it sounds to me as if the Bills do not intend to pay them elite money. Chandler scored six TDs, tied for seventh among NFL tight ends. But he's not worth anything close to top tight end money.
Nix wouldn't touch the question about giving Stevie a franchise tag. That would be around $9.5 million. I don't think there's any chance they'll pay him that much for one year.