Tony Moeaki unlikely to play Sunday

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Newly signed tight end Tony Moeaki is unlikely to play Sunday when the Buffalo Bills travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coach Doug Marrone said Thursday.

"Schematically, I don't want to give anything away, but obviously I don't think so," Marrone said. "I think it would be very difficult to get a player ready to go when you bring him in in the middle of the week."

The Bills may only have three games this season to evaluate Moeaki, but he is set to stick around for the offseason. On Wednesday, Moeaki signed a two-year deal that includes a $1 million base salary for next season.

If Moeaki flashes some of the talent he showed earlier in his career, then his salary suggests that he could be part of the Bills' future plans at the position.

"Obviously we brought him in here for a reason and again, the question is -- and it's not a secret -- can he get back to the level of play when he was in this league and playing?" Marrone said. "Because when he did play, he was extremely productive."

Moeaki caught 47 passes for 556 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010, before tearing his ACL and missing the entire 2011 season.

The Bills' current starter at tight end, Scott Chandler, is likely to set career highs this season. With four games remaining, he has 41 catches for 491 yards, just shy of his career marks (43 catches for 571 yards) set last season.

However, Chandler's red zone production has dipped. He has two touchdowns in 12 games after catching six touchdown passes in each of the past two seasons. He's also fumbled at least once in each of his three seasons in Buffalo.

Chandler is in the final season of his contract. At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, the 28-year-old has been productive for the Bills but isn't often considered among the more dangerous receiving tight ends in the NFL.

If Moeaki can pick up the offensive system quickly enough, expect the Bills to give him plenty of opportunity to showcase his skills in the final three games. Moeaki's contract includes a $650,000 base salary this season, so prorated for the remainder of the season, the Bills are essentially giving the 26-year-old a $153,000 tryout.

After that, the Bills will need to make a decision on both Chandler and Moeaki. Do they give Chandler an extension and cut Moeaki? Do they let Chandler walk in free agency and keep Moeaki for $1 million? Do they keep both? Or neither?

Those are questions that will be answered this offseason, but for now, it's safe to file the Moeaki signing under the "low-risk, high-reward" category.