MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — The Miami Dolphins have lost one of their most productive offensive players to a division rival.
Tight end Charles Clay is switching teams in the AFC East.
The Dolphins decided Thursday against matching the contract offer Clay received from Buffalo, so he will join the Bills after signing their $38 million, five-year deal Tuesday.
The Bills confirmed the Dolphins’ decision, announcing they had acquired Clay.
The Dolphins had the right to match after giving Clay a transition tag two weeks ago, but they decided the price was too high, and will go with newcomer Jordan Cameron and holdover Dion Sims at tight end.
The Dolphins face salary-cap constraints after signing All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a $114 million, six-year contract last week. Even so, they hosted three free agents for visits Thursday — quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, center J.D. Walton and receiver Michael Crabtree.
Clay started 47 games in four years with Miami after being taken in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. He had 58 catches last season for 605 yards and three scores despite knee trouble that hampered him all season.
The Bills made Clay one of their top free-agent targets. He traveled to Buffalo by private jet on March 10, the first day of the league’s signing period, and spent several days in the area.
Clay is the latest addition to a revamped offense under newly hired coach Rex Ryan and incoming coordinator Greg Roman. Buffalo acquired running back LeSean McCoy in a trade with Philadelphia on March 3, and signed free-agent receiver Percy Harvin this week.
Jackson’s visit to Miami signals the Dolphins may replace backup quarterback Matt Moore, who is a free agent. Moore has been with Miami since 2011 but made $4 million last year and may be too expensive to re-sign.
Jackson has been in the NFL since 2006 but hasn’t started a game since 2011, when he was with Seattle. He has 34 career starts.
Walton started all 16 games for the Giants last year and has 52 career starts since being drafted by the Broncos in 2010. He missed all of the 2013 season with an ankle injury.
Crabtree has been a starter for the 49ers since they took him in the first round of the 2009 draft. He had 68 catches last year but averaged a career-low 10.3 yards per reception and scored only four touchdowns.
Clay’s departure means quarterback Ryan Tannehill has lost four of his top six targets from last year. The Dolphins traded disgruntled receiver Mike Wallace to the Vikings, and released Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. They acquired receiver Kenny Stills in a trade with the Saints.
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