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How The Buffalo Bills Can Save Over $50 Million In Cap Space



Now that we are less than a week away from the start of NFL free agency, it’s time for teams to make the tough, but necessary moves to ensure that they have enough cap space for the start of the new league year. Those moves include cuts (commonly referred to as “cap casualties”), restructures, trades, and extensions.

However, some teams, like the Buffalo Bills, got some help yesterday. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, “the NFL has finalized its year-end club adjustments.” This means that each team receives either more or less money due to “incentives, roster bonuses, carryover cap space, etc.” These adjustments gave the Bills another $3 million in cap space to work with.

As it currently stands, Spotrac has the Buffalo Bills at $17.5 million over while Over The Cap has them at $18.4 million. Subtract the $3 million (because the two sites have yet to factor in the year-end adjustments), and we’ll just meet in the middle and say that the Bills need to shave off roughly $15 million to be cap compliant.

So, how can Buffalo not only get back under the cap, but then save enough money to be able to sign free agents? (Note: All projected cap savings came from Over The Cap.)

Restructure Josh Allen’s Contract ($21.5M)

The first thing the Buffalo Bills can do to save money is restructure QB Josh Allen’s contract. Allen signed a six-year, $258 million contract extension in August of 2021 and that contract now comes into play. In 2023, he has a cap hit of $39.8 million. This accounts for, ironically enough, over 17% of the team’s cap next season. He also has a base salary of $27.5 million.

The Bills could convert that base salary into a signing bonus, freeing up over $21.5 million and immediately bringing them back under the cap. It would be up to Allen and GM Brandon Beane to be able to make this happen. But, judging by how much of a team player Allen is, I don’t think he would hesitate. Especially since you can put that $21.5 million towards more offensive weapons.

Restructure Von Miller’s Contract ($10.9M)

Another player who could have his contract restructured is Von Miller. The almost-34-year old is entering year two of a six-year, $120 million contract. (Don’t forget, he has an opt out after year three.) Miller has a cap hit of $18.6 million this year. While his base salary is only $1.3 million, he has a roster bonus of $13.5 million. So, the Bills can convert that roster bonus into a signing bonus, spreading out the money throughout the rest of his contract and saving almost $11 million towards their cap this year.

I think Miller would be willing to do this because he’s a very personable and team-first kind of player. Plus, he has said in the past that he wants to learn from Brandon Beane and follow him around this offseason to get a better understanding of the role of the general manager in hopes of becoming one himself someday.

Trade Ed Oliver ($10.8M)

One of the best ways the Bills can save money while also getting assets in return is by trading DT Ed Oliver. Buffalo picked up his fifth-year option, so he has a $10.8 million salary that is fully guaranteed this year. His cap hit, base salary and dead cap are all worth $10.8 million. However, if the Bills were to trade Oliver before June 1, he would have a dead cap of $0, meaning they would save that $10.8 million by shipping him out.

I’m not sure if Beane will want to give up on Oliver just yet. But, between the cap situation and the possibility of getting a day two pick (or two day three picks) in return, this may be more realistic than we think. Plus, Oliver is in a contract year. With a market value of $10.4 million, do you really want to give an eight-figure contract (based on average annual value) to a guy who has yet to surpass 44 total tackles and five sacks in a season? Maybe Beane should get something for him now before potentially letting him walk next year.

Restructure Dion Dawkins ($6.4M)

Going over to the offensive line, LT Dion Dawkins could be another candidate for a contract restructure. Dawkins has the fifth-largest cap hit on the team at $14.8 million. He also has a base salary of $8.9 million in 2023. Like Allen, the blind side protector could have his base salary converted into a signing bonus, clearing up another $6.4 million for the team.

Dawkins re-worked his deal for the Bills once already last summer, so he may not want to do it again. However, the Shnowman has $0 in guaranteed salary this season. So it may be in his best interest to convert that base salary into a bonus so that he will have some guaranteed money coming his way.

Extend DaQuan Jones ($4.5M)

Switching back to the defensive line, DT DaQuan Jones had a solid first year for the Bills, helping them finish with the fifth-best run defense. Jones signed a two-year, $14 million contract last offseason with Buffalo, giving him a cap hit of $8.6 million this upcoming season. If the Bills want to spread out some of that money, they could sign him to an extension, lowering his 2023 cap hit.

Based on Over The Cap’s figures, extending Jones would save $4.5 million and keep the Binghamton, NY native in Buffalo for two more years. (He would become a free agent in 2025, his age 33 season.)

Restructure Nyheim Hines ($1.9M)

This is one of the smaller moves in terms of cap savings, but it’s one of the most logical ones. As of right now, RB Nyheim Hines has a $4.8 million cap hit with $0 in dead cap. So, the Bills could either release or trade him and save all $4.8 million. I don’t think they would do that though, as there was clearly a reason why they acquired him in the first place (specifically for special teams). But, at the same time, you can’t pay a backup RB almost $5 million and then give him the ball just 11 times. (Hines had six rushes and five receptions in 2022).

I think Hines is a perfect candidate for a restructure. If the Bills re-work his deal, they could turn some of his $4.5 million base salary into a signing bonus, saving $1.9 million in cap space. That way, not only would they save money, but it would be a little more justified to keep him even if he doesn’t get the ball on offense again. (Although I think we will see him more involved this season.)

Total Money Saved/Projected Cap Space

So where does this leave the Buffalo Bills? How much money does this save? How much cap space would they have?

If the Bills were to make these six moves, they would save $56 million, giving them approximately $41 million in cap space.

Now, these are all hypotheticals, but I think a lot of them make sense for Brandon Beane to execute. He acknowledged at his end-of-season press conference that he and his staff will have their work cut out for them in terms of getting back under the cap, mentioning how they might have to restructure some of these deals.

“We’ll be creative, we’ll do things. We may have to re-work a few contracts, it’s not that we’re not going to do that.”

beane on restructuring players (via Buffalo Bills YouTube channel)

There’s no way of knowing if the six moves that I proposed match what’s on Beane’s radar, so here are some other potential moves that could take place. (The cap savings are in parentheses.)

  • Extend LB Matt Milano ($7M)
  • Restructure CB Tre White ($5.9M)
  • Restructure WR Stefon Diggs ($5.6M)
  • Re-work C Mitch Morse ($3.4M)
  • Trade/Release WR Isaiah McKenzie ($2.2M)
  • Trade DE A.J. Epenesa ($1.4M)

If the Buffalo Bills were to make these transactions, they would save an additional $25.5 million in cap space. Again, there is no way of knowing which moves the front office will make. I came up with a dozen hypotheticals; I doubt they would actually pull off all 12 in real life, but I think at least half of them need to be on the table.

Regardless, there are many ways for the Buffalo Bills to save money and use that extra cap space to build their team for 2023 and beyond.

Stay tuned later this week as I will have an article on how the Bills can spend this money, targeting specific positions and players!

Featured Image: Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images