The Buffalo Bills have signed Tight End Jacob Hollister to a one-year deal, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. According to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, Hollister will have a cap hit of $1.127 million in 2021 (the veteran minimum $990,000 plus a $137,500 signing bonus).
While most Bills fans were expecting a bigger name acquisition, Hollister can be a game-changing Tight End in his own right. So let’s take a look at Buffalo’s newest offensive weapon.
Who is Jacob Hollister?
Hollister came into the league in 2017 as an undrafted free agent out of Wyoming (we will discuss this later), signing with New England. He served mainly as a reserve TE/special teamer in his two seasons with the Patriots. Just months after winning Super Bowl LIII, Hollister was traded to Seattle for a 2020 seventh-round pick (which was later traded to Tampa Bay with Rob Gronkowski).
He would finally get an opportunity in 2019, catching 41 of 59 passes from Russell Wilson for 349 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games. Those numbers may not seem significant, but Hollister had a profound impact on that offense. He ended that season third on the Seahawks in receptions, targets, and receiving yards and fourth in receiving touchdowns. Seattle placed the second-round tender on Hollister in the 2020 off-season.
Unfortunately, Hollister would be lost in the TE shuffle in 2020 with Greg Olsen and Will Dissly. He recorded just 25 receptions on 40 targets for 209 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games. He ended 2020 fifth on the team in receptions, targets, and receiving touchdowns and seventh in receiving yards.
Why did the Bills sign Hollister?
The first main reason Buffalo signed him is because of Josh Allen. As previously mentioned, Hollister played his college ball at Wyoming. His best season came in 2016, Allen’s first season as the starting Quarterback. Hollister caught 32 passes for 515 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games that year. He was second on the Cowboys in receiving touchdowns and yards/reception average and third in receptions and receiving yards. His familiarity with Allen should serve him well in Buffalo.
The other main reason the Bills signed Hollister is that he is an all-around player. He is a willing and capable run blocker, receiving threat, and special teamer. Hollister is particularly effective as a downfield target in the passing game. According to Pro Football Focus, 25.6% of his targets (from Allen) in 2016 came on throws of 20+ air yards; he caught seven of 11 such passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. He also has a pretty solid set of hands, having dropped just three of 99 passes over the last two seasons.
It should be noted that Hollister may not be the only Tight End that the Bills bring in this off-season. However, he can be a solid complement to Dawson Knox. Should Hollister be Buffalo’s TE2, it would behoove Daboll to use him as the downfield threat with Knox as the check-down option in 12 personnel groupings.