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Posted: Thursday, 09 May 2013 3:38PM

Bills' cap casualty candidates



(WGR 550) -- It's no secret in the National Football League. With each passing year players get older, skills decline and their salary cup numbers gets higher. That's the way a majority of the contracts are constructed in the league.

With that commonality amongst all 32 NFL clubs, there will undoubtedly be veterans all across the league that will be brought in to a coach's office and released from their current deal before the 2013 regular season begins.

In the case of the Buffalo Bills especially, a brand new coaching staff often times means a roster overhaul is on the horizon. We saw that scenario happen in 2010 when Buddy Nix took over as General Manager and Chan Gailey as Head Coach.

In 2013 with Doug Marrone as the coach of the team, it doesn't seem likely that this time around will be any different. Many players that fit in to the new schemes of the offensive and defensive coordinators have already been brought in, perhaps pushing some other players closer to being out the door.

With the Bills beginning their first session of Organized Team Activities on Monday, May 13, now may be the time to consider who might not fit in with what the team is trying to do any longer. Here is a list of five veterans that could be in their last few months with the team.

1) WR Brad Smith
Remaining Contract - 2 years
Salary Cap Hits - 2013: $3.8 million, 2014: $4 million

- Since Doug Marrone was hired, the Bills have drafted two receivers in the top three rounds, signed a highly touted undrafted free agent and we've heard the front office boast about both Stevie Johnson and Marcus Easley. The man that hasn't been factored in at this point? Brad Smith. The Wildcat extraordinaire may not have a place on this roster with a new offense, a new bundle of young receivers that require time on the field and an incredibly high salary for someone that likely won't contribute a whole lot in 2013. He is firmly atop the list.

2) RT Erik Pears
Remaining Contract - 2 years
Salary Cap Hits - 2013: $2.8 million, 2014: $3.45 million

- After signing his contract extension with the Bills, Erik Pears has gone through both injuries and extremely poor play in 2012. It doesn't appear to be as cut and dry with Pears as it does with Smith, but it's hard to ignore his tape from last season. The drop-off from Pears to Chris Hairston really doesn't exist. Last year, Hairston outperformed Pears in my opinion. If that trend continues in training camp, I'd look for the Bills to side with the player that will cost them roughly only $1.4 million over the next two seasons rather than the cap hits through 2014 that you see listed above.

3) K Rian Lindell
Remaining Contract - 3 years
Salary Cap Hits - 2013: $2.99 million, 2014: $3.04 million, 2015: $3.16 million

- One of the mainstays of the locker room through many head coaches at One Bills Drive, Rian Lindell's time may be up in Buffalo. The Bills drafted a kicker in the sixth round (Dustin Hopkins) who possessed one of the biggest legs in college football last season. Hopkins will likely compete with Lindell for the job, but it might be slanted towards Hopkins' big leg already. The counter argument some might make would be to bring up 2012 seventh-round pick John Potter. The difference there, though, is that Lindell was fresh off a contract extension and Potter was seen only as a kickoff specialist. With a new coaching staff in town and bringing in someone that made big kicks throughout his college career, it shows that the competition is on. Lindell's salary ultimately plays a big part in the decision I would think.

4) QB Tarvaris Jackson
Remaining Contract - 1 year
Salary Cap Hits - 2013: $1.75 million

- After the Bills signed Kevin Kolb and drafted E.J. Manuel in the first round, it appears as though Jackson may be the man peering through the window at the quarterback competition. Jackson will get some repetitions and a chance to earn a spot on the roster. However, with a low-risk contract that would cost the Bills nothing to get out of, Jackson could be a goner if he doesn't light it up in training camp and in the preseason. I believe the Bills will go to the regular season with Manuel, either Kolb or Jackson and Jeff Tuel to round out their quarterback group. It's no guarantee, however. If Manuel isn't ready to at least backup the starter, they might just rather have Jackson on the roster as insurance and stash Tuel on the practice squad.

5) DE/OLB Mark Anderson
Remaining Contract -  3 Years
Salary Cap Hits -  2013: $4 million, 2014: $5.5 million, 2015: $6.5 million

- Looking at all the remaining weighty contracts the team has, Mark Anderson's makes the most sense to be a candidate of the ones that haven't already been listed. I do not believe that Anderson is in any real jeopardy of being cut as long as he shows up healthy and willing to work. Past Mario Williams, the Bills don't have a lot as far as their pass rushers go. Outside of Williams and Anderson, the Bills have only Manny Lawson (who is a strongside linebacker in a 4-3), the recently acquired Jerry Hughes and some other players that were either undrafted or successfully found a spot after their tryout. Make no mistake, this is a big season for Anderson. If he underperforms, he could be atop this list in 2014. Once again however, I don't think he's in any real danger of being cut. It certainly is something to ponder at the very least.

Rookie minicamp starts on Friday, May 10. Be sure to tune in to WGR Sports Radio 550 and check back to WGR550.com for complete coverage of E.J. Manuel's first time on the field as a Bill.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

All photos courtesy of AP
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