I've been reading quite a few comments on this site that suggest that the Bills will have a lot of money to spend in free agency this year and decided to do some research to figure out just how much they have to spend.
I first tried to find the 2012 salary cap hit for every player that is currently signed through the end of next season. My best estimation of that number is somewhere between 90 - 95 million. I used Spotrac.com to obtain those figures, which is a link I recently found in MRW's "Worst Bang for the Dollar Bills." I don't think it was 100% reflective of what Buffalo actually owes players in 2012, because I didn't see the practice squad players listed, but it got me into the right ballpark (hence the somewhere between 90-95).
Next I looked up the 2012 salary cap. This is also not yet definitive as it is seems to be reflective of revenue intake for the previous year, however it seems likely from what I've read that it will remain close to the 2011 number, somewhere between 120-125 million.
So contrary to the comments I've been reading on this site, it doesn't seem to me that we have all that much money to spend in FA, especially when you take our own important FAs into consideration. In my opinion, these would include:
- Stevie Johnson
- Demetrius Bell
- Scott Chandler
- Rian Lindell
- Bryan Scott
- Chad Rinehart
- Kraig Urbik
- Garrison Sanborn
Additionally, we'll also have to save some cash to sign our draft picks and undrafted free agents. I know that's not a ton, but put all the rookies together and it adds up.
I was hoping that we would have the cap space to make some noise in FA, but after looking at the numbers, I feel like that is less and less likely. I was hoping that we could land a notable pass rusher (DE or OLB depending on scheme), CB and WR in FA, but now I feel like we'll be lucky to get just one high level FA at one of those spots, as well as a few mid-level FA's.
My research was not in depth, just a quick on-line search. If anyone has more or different information, please share it in the comments section below. I'm hoping I'm wrong and we have more to spend than I calculated, because I think we have to land at least two very talented FA's and have a good draft (2-3 immediate contributors) to compete for a playoff spot next year.