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The Buffalo Bills Super Bowl window doesn’t close after the 2021 season

After a season in which the Buffalo Bills were so close to the ultimate goal, it felt as though only a few things had to be done in the ensuing offseason. Firstly, draft an instant impact player in the first round. Secondly, make a big splash free-agent signing like J.J. Watt for example. Yes, the Buffalo Bills were very close to the Super Bowl last year, but that doesn’t mean that it’s only going to take a couple of upgrades to put the team over the top.

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After a season in which the Buffalo Bills were so close to the ultimate goal, it felt as though only a few things had to be done in the ensuing offseason. Firstly, draft an instant impact player in the first round. Secondly, make a big splash free-agent signing like J.J. Watt for example. Yes, the Buffalo Bills were very close to the Super Bowl last year, but that doesn’t mean that it’s only going to take a couple of upgrades to put the team over the top.

As we have seen during Brandon Beane’s tenure with the Buffalo Bills, he likes to take the methodical approach. He’s made some moves to trade up in various drafts. Made some expensive free-agent signings. However, everything he has done to this point has been calculated and with the future in mind. Beane isn’t trying to mortgage the future and sell out to win a Super Bowl in 2021. He’s trying to win now and build the next dynasty within the AFC East.

Super Bowl window history

People argue that the Super Bowl window for a team is only open while their quarterback is on a rookie contract. That just simply isn’t true. It is easier while saving money with cheap labor on your starting quarterback. However, the window doesn’t just shut because you paid your quarterback the salary they deserve. It certainly gets more difficult when your quarterback is taking up almost 15% of the cap. But that difficulty only applies to rounding out the roster. When you have an above-average quarterback, it elevates the play from everyone around them.

Tom Brady (Patriots), Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Peyton Manning (Colts), Drew Brees (Saints), the list goes on. All of these teams with franchise quarterbacks were talked about as Super Bowl contenders year after year. It didn’t matter that most of these quarterbacks were taking up close to 15% of their respective team’s total payroll. In the 2003 season, Peyton Manning’s $20M+ salary was over a fifth of the Colts’ payroll. They still managed to go 12-4 and advanced to the AFC championship game.

There are more examples of success beyond that 2003 season with Peyton Manning and the Colts. However, most of the quarterbacks I mentioned above did take considerable pay cuts at some point in their careers to help out their respective general managers. Josh Allen’s contract extension will make a sizeable dent in the Buffalo Bills’ cap space. On the other hand, once Allen gets the guaranteed money from that extension, he could be more likely to take a pay cut to help Beane in the future. We shouldn’t completely rule that possibility out, although it may be a bit of wishful thinking.

How it applies to the Buffalo Bills

The point I’m trying to make is that the Buffalo Bills’ Super Bowl window will only shut if Josh Allen leaves Buffalo. Having a franchise quarterback will always keep the team in contention. This 2021 season might end up being the most stacked roster Josh Allen plays with in Buffalo because he isn’t eating up as much of the cap space. However, if Josh keeps improving, he can elevate the play of those around him and win with a lesser roster.

With all that being said, after paying the franchise quarterback, the challenge shifts. This shift goes from finding the franchise quarterback, to finding cheap and efficient labor to surround him with. Therefore, once Allen gets paid, Brandon Beane is going to have to continue hitting on his draft picks.

Beane has clearly already begun to look towards the future with how he prioritized specific prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. The two positions that the Buffalo Bills doubled up on were edge rusher and offensive tackle. Both of which are expensive positions. The Bills could end up saving a lot of money on cheap labor at both of those positions if the draft picks pan out.

Spencer Brown eventually replacing Daryl Williams, saves the team money down the road. Greg Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr. eventually replacing Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison opens up more cap space in the future. Any potential successor to Mitch Morse and/or Star Lotulelei is another avenue to free up money for the future. These scenarios I just laid out above are merely possibilities to potentially save money in the future, not predictions. The point is that saving money on the quarterback position isn’t the only way to maximize the Super Bowl window.

Air Raid Hour recap

Last night on the Air Raid Hour we covered this very topic and many others. For instance, we also touched on the possibility of the Buffalo Bills playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to open the 2021 NFL season in addition to other schedule predictions. We also dipped into a brief discussion on who we felt would contribute more to the 2021 Buffalo Bills, Emmanuel Sanders or Gabriel Davis. If you didn’t catch us live, the replay to yesterday’s episode of the Air Raid Hour is linked and embedded above.

Prior to the Air Raid Hour last night, the Buffalo Fanatics twitter asked for the fans to chime in with show topics. Shout out to @NBlovs on Twitter for commenting with this particular topic for the show. Not only was it good enough to get on the air, but I also felt the need to expand on the topic and write more about it. Check out the Buffalo Fanatics Twitter page on Monday and Thursday afternoons to pitch potential show topics to us. The Air Raid Hour goes live on the Buffalo Fanatics Youtube channel every Monday and Thursday night at 5 PM EST.