Last season the Buffalo Bills did something that they haven’t done in 27 years and made it to the AFC Championship game. Unfortunately, the Bills lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Josh Allen leaped in his third year that not many people anticipated. Allen went from the middle of the pack at quarterback to the top five and an MVP candidate. Last year’s big addition was Stefon Diggs. Allen and Diggs became one of the most dangerous duos in the league.
The challenge going into the off-season is the fact the salary cap is projected to be lower than the previous year. If that is the case this will only be the second time since the NFL instituted a salary cap. 2020’s cap was $198 million and right now it is projected to be somewhere between $180-185 million. How can the Bills continue to build on what they have, stay under the cap, and try to get to the Super Bowl in 2021?
As of 2/27/2021, Bill’s salary cap is currently at $182,408,650(per overthecap.com), for conversation let’s put the salary cap at $185,000,000:
Possible Cap Casualties:
- WR John Brown cap saving $7,931,250
- TE Lee Smith cap savings $2,250,000
- DT Vernon Butler cap savings $6,818,750
- DT Quinton Jefferson cap savings $6,500,000
- LB Tyler Matakevich cap saving $3,350,000
Cutting these players could create $21,000,000 in cap room.
Possible Players to Restructure:
C Mitch Morse: recently the Carolina Panthers just restructured their center, Matt Paradis. They have similar contracts and were able to convert some base salary to signing bonus and save $4,693,334 in cap space. If the Bills and Morse can work out a similar deal could save around $5,000,000, in cap space.
DE Mario Addison: Cutting Addison could be a possibility, but that would be a big cap hit of $6,100,000 against the cap. Restructuring Addison could save the Bills around $5,162,000.
Restructuring these players could bring in a cap savings of $10,162,000.
By doing this, the Bills could create $31,162,000, and give the Bills $33,753,350 in cap space heading into free agency. Keep in mind need to save about $5 million for their draft class.
- Re-signing G Jon Feliciano projected contract 4 year, $33,489,975(AAV $8,372,494)
- Re-sign RT Daryl Williams projected contract 2 years, $15,7722,226(AAV $7,861,226)
- Re-sign Isiah McKenzie Projected contract 2 years, $2,117,500(AAV $1,058,750)
- Sign DE Carl Lawson prjected contract 4 years, $35,460,302(AAV $8,865,076)
*All contract terms were calculated with Spoctrac.com market value tool
*Other free agents will be signed to lower deals but these are the bigger moves to be made
Re-signing Feliciano and Williams will help keep together an offensive line that was starting to gel together at the end of last season. Besides the AFC Championship Game, the Bills will also be getting guard Cody Ford back next season.
Getting McKenzie back into the fold will be key this off-season. He showed that he can take over the return role from Andre Roberts, who is a free agent as well. McKenzie was like a Swiss-Army knife in this offense.
Signing Lawson should help produce a pass rush this season. Giving his age of only 26, Lawson still has some of his best football in him. He has a similar skill set to Jerry Hughes, who fit nicely in Buffalo.
These signings will take up a big chunk of the cap. Total average annual value is $26,157,546. Leaving the Bills just over $5 million in cap space. I do understand that there are ways for Brandon Beane and the Bills to structure the contracts so all the cap hit will not be this season.
Buffalo trades out of the first round with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Buffalo receives pick 33 and 65 for pick 30 and 162.
Pick 33: Jabril Cox-LB, LSU
Cox should come in right away and help replace Matt Milano who will most likely be gone in free agency.
Pick 61: Ifeatu Melifonwu-CB, Syracuse
Melifonwu should be penciled in to play opposite corner from All-Pro Tre White.
Pick 65: Creed Humphreys-OL, Oklahoma
Humphreys has position flexibility along the offensive line. In college, he played center and both guard positions.
Pick 93: Tommy Tremble-TE, Notre Dame
Tremble is a do it all tight end. He is an above-average blocker and a big target in the passing game.
Pick 175: Kobie Whiteside-DT, Missouri
Whiteside will be a nice addition to the rotation for the Bills defensive line.
Pick 214: Tre Norwood-CB, Oklahoma
Pick 234: Brady Breeze-S, Oregon
Both Norwood and Breeze will try to stick to the roster as reserves and if not hopefully a spot on the practice squad.
Building through the draft will be key for the Bills if they want to continue to contend with the AFC. Hopefully, with the additions, the Buffalo Bills can remain on top of the AFC East and a top team in the AFC.
For more Buffalo Bills or NFL Draft news and opinions follow me on Twitter @Kieth_Domon