It is no surprise that Brandon Beane was able to convince many of his players to take a small home-town discount to make another championship run in Buffalo. But what is forgotten is the role some players had in keeping much of last year’s team intact. For weeks now, I have been writing about Buffalo’s difficult financial situation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent salary cap decrease. So how were the Bills able to retain the likes of Matt Milano, Jon Feliciano, Daryl Williams, Levi Wallace, and Isaiah McKenzie? Well, like on game day, it took a team effort from many in the organization to get it done.
In a normal year, with a normal cap, contract restructures barely make the news cycle. But this year, when every dollar counts, what the Bills have done has indeed been front-page news. Mitch Morse, Vernon Butler, and Mario Addison agreed to restructure their deals in an effort to help the Bills’ cap situation. In a press conference last week, Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott reiterated that there was no ultimatum in place for the restructures and that the players did so for the good of the team. It’s a move that seems simple for fans, but one that not many athletes would choose.
For those that need an example of how every roster move is linked, let’s consider Bills Defensive End Mario Addison. When Addison restructured his contract earlier this month, just over $2 million was freed up on this year’s salary cap. On Tuesday, the Bills re-signed Isaiah McKenzie to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million. Anyone who watched Brian Daboll’s record-setting offense in 2020 would agree that McKenzie was an integral part of the play-calling. Losing him to another team was something many fans, and I’m sure Daboll, didn’t want to see happen. So, while it is easy to think who cares about the $2 million saved from Mario Addison, we can see now the direct benefits. It allowed the Bills to re-sign a very important part of their offense in Isaiah McKenzie.
Another interesting nugget to come out of last week’s press conference was the patience displayed by Matt Milano during the extension process. Beane told reporters he was very candid with Milano and his representatives; they would have to see where the salary cap was at the end of the year before they could start negotiating. Beane said that he wanted to do it last summer when they extended Tre’Davious White and Dion Dawkins. If it weren’t for COVID and its impact on the salary cap, the discussions with Milano would have started much sooner.
The same can be said for Josh Allen. Once again, Beane said they would have to wait to see where things ended up after free agency and the draft before discussing the extension for Buffalo’s long-awaited franchise quarterback. These are some of the best football players in the league. They have agreed to be patient and trust that Bills management will take care of them when the time comes. These players delaying their contract extensions for the betterment of the team also had a significant impact on where the Bills are today.
The Buffalo Bills showed us in 2020 that they win pretty often. They won 15 games total on a combination of Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. It turns out the Bills can also win in the off-season, as well. Just like they did all year long, the Bills used a team effort to win this off-season. The unselfish nature of this team is having an undeniable impact on this organization and will continue to for years to come.