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Bills' cap situation looking healthier for 2017 and beyond

A complete look at the teams' current and future salary cap situation

Sal Capaccio
June 25, 2017 - 10:33 pm

According to the NFLPA’s public salary cap report, the Bills currently have $13,982,198 in available cap space for 2017.

The figure includes only the top 51 salaries for players currently under contract. Once final cuts are made following the last preseason game, all 53 players on the roster will count towards the cap.

Each team is allowed to bring 90 players to training camp. The Bills currently have 89 players on their active roster with one empty space.

The $13.9 million figure is just under the median for the league. The Bills have more cap space than 13 other teams and less space than 18 of them, according to the NFLPA report. But with a full roster now accounted for it’s certainly a better position than they found themselves headed into this offseason.

 

How they got here

Back in February, the Bills had roughly $21 million in salary cap space available while only having 26 players under contract.

Since then, they’ve cut high-priced veterans such as safeties Aaron Williams and Corey Graham, kicker Dan Carpenter, cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, and even Garrison Sanborn, who was one of the highest paid long snappers in the league.

The team’s marquee free agent signing was safety Micah Hyde, who inked a 5-year, $30.5 million deal that will count $4 million towards the cap in 2017.

From there, free agents such as K Steven Hauschka ($2.6 million cap hit, according to OverTheCap.com), S Jordan Poyer ($2.475M), FB Patrick DiMarco ($1.85M), and WR Andre Holmes ($1.4M) were added, and they re-signed LB Lorenzo Alexander ($3M), P Colton Schmidt ($1.15M), and OT Jordan Mills ($1.65M).

The team had two restricted free agents who were offered deals from other teams. They matched the Rams’ offer for OL Ryan Groy, who will cost $2.5 million against the cap, and declined to match the 2-year, $6.4 million deal the Patriots gave RB Mike Gillislee. Gillislee’s Patriots' cap charge for 2017 will be $3.968 million. That's how much it would have cost against the Bills cap, as well, had they matched the deal.

 

Looking ahead

One of the best things the Bills did this offseason - or didn’t do - is restructure contracts (other than QB Tyrod Taylor, which I’ll address in a moment). That's something they did frequently over the past few years. Yes, they could have freed up more money for this season to sign more free agents, but that practice is part of the reason they found themselves in the tight cap situation they did back in February.

If the Bills choose to move on from any of their highest cap-hit players after this year, not re-doing deals and pushing cap numbers down the road will allow them to do it with a much lower dead cap figure than if they had restructured some of those deals.

Of course, Taylor did come back on a different deal, but he essentially took a pay cut and did not get more money upfront, which is what normally happens with a restructured contract. Taylor’s cap hit dropped from $15.9M to $9.71M this season. Normally, for that kind of drop, it costs the team a lot more money down the road. Not in this case. Taylor’s cap number does jump to $18 million in 2018 - if the Bills decide to keep him - but that’s just a shade over $2 million more than what he was originally scheduled to count prior to the new deal.

Even if the Bills do keep Taylor beyond 2017 on his exact deal the way it is currently written, they’re still in pretty healthy shape with the cap going forward. According to Over The Cap, accounting for a $178 million cap per team, the Bills will be roughly $34 million under that number including players currently under contract.

The most notable names whose contracts will expire after this season are WR Sammy Watkins, DE Kyle Williams, C Eric Wood, and LB Preston Brown.


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