Dear Fellow Bills Fans:
While the Bills have probably made most of their highly significant off-season cuts, I wanted to go over some players who may be cut to create additional cap space. With free agency just around the corner, cutting some or all of these players will give the Bills some more cap space to approach free agents. Here are those players that I have identified (their savings are in parenthesis):
WR Brad Smith ($2,750,000)
LB Arthur Moats ($1,323,000)
OL Erik Pears ($1,050,000)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ($450,000)
K Rian Lindell ($300,000)
TE Scott Chandler ($2,350,000)
If all of these players were to be cut it would create $8,223,000 in immediate savings. However they would need to be replaced by 6 other players. If we assume their replacements cost the league minimum of $405,000 and multiply that by 6 we get $2,430,000. Thus the total savings would be $5,793,000 (this year).
With the exception of Moats and Lindell, all of these players have roster bonuses, so the Bills have a deadline when deciding when or if to cut these players. I chose these players because they present the biggest savings towards the cap and all provide questionable ( in my opinion ) value to the team. I'll outline why below.
When he was first acquired by the Bills, many assumed he would play a prominent role in our offense and be a spectacular special teams player. In those 2 seasons he has scored 6 touchdowns, thrown 2 interceptions and has 392 receiving yards, 35 rushing yards, 778 return yards. He will count $3.75 million towards the cap this year and $4 million next year if he remains on the roster. While remaining an intriguing weapon he has not lived up to this contract. He may remain on the roster through training camp for Marrone to gauge his value to the offense but if they are looking for immediate and future cap savings, he should be on the Bills radar.
Being a 6th road draft pick and marginal talent, the Bills have yet to really grasp how to use this player. He has been asked to change positions (and then change back) more times than he can probably even count. With yet again another new defense to learn and more questions of where to put him, combined with the very little dead money if cut ($28,000) and relatively high $1,351,000 cap hit, he remains a prime target to cut. Again, Marrone may want to see him in training camp before Nix makes any decision on him, but if the Bills are looking for cap space here is a player they probably don't need. Even with the lack of LB's on the roster.
Coming off a season where he landed on the IR with a hip injury nothing is secure for Pears. While he provides at the very least a solid option at right tackle, it remains to be seen if he can remain healthy. He has a pretty reasonable cap hit of $2.8 million but with the emergence of Hairston and the draft pick of Sanders last year, the Bills could save over a million dollars by cutting this guy. Again he may last at least until his roster bonus is due or through training camp.
The starting QB for what seems to have been too long is facing a decision by the team by March 12th at the latest.
Rian with an I has been a mostly reliable kicker for the Bills, albeit from short range field goals. When your coach doesn't trust you to attempt field goals of over 50 yards there surely must be cheaper options out there. While he only provides $300,000 in savings toward the cap this year his salary is simply too high. When rookie kickers Blair Walsh and Greg Zuerlein are consistently making long field goals, it seems reasonable that the Bills can find someone at least similar to Rian's success at a much cheaper price. You actually lose 2013 cap space by signing another kicker but you gain space for 2014 and possibly gain a better kicker as well. He probably stays at least through training camp.
I like Chandler a lot as a tight end and has proven to be a mostly reliable receiving threat. I think he was very under used in Gailey's offense and as a red zone threat. However coming off ACL surgery, his health status remains unclear. I hope he recovers and stays with the team but the way his contract is set up, the Bills could save a lot of money here to pursue other players.
I'm not going to go into any detail here about cap savings beyond 2013. However, I will have you note that cutting these players before this season allows the Bills to clear these players salaries off the books for 2014 and (with the new CBA allowing teams to carryover any unused cap space from year to year) could provide the Bills with a higher salary cap total for 2014.
All of the players' contract numbers were taken from here and their stats from here. I'll end this fan post with a poll asking you who, if anyone at all, you would like to see cut. As always thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments!