2013 Buffalo Bills year in review: worst roster values

Tom Szczerbowski

The Buffalo Bills got great production out of some cheap players in 2013, but they also saw several highly-compensated players struggle. These are the 10 worst roster values for the Bills.

The Buffalo Bills didn't spend a lot of money in 2013. They still have more than $17 million in cap space for the current year that will roll over to 2014 if they so choose. With that being said, they certainly didn't get quality bang for their buck on every player on the payroll.

For the purposes of this article, we're going to use each player's 2013 cap number from Spotrac.com. It's the most accurate representation of bonus money and salary paid to a player to perform during the 2013 season.

10. Dead money. Ryan Fitzpatrick was the biggest knock on Buffalo's salary cap for the players that weren't on the roster. $3 million of his $10 million cap hit was applied to the 2013 cap, with a whopping $7 million still on the 2014 cap. With the aforementioned space, absorbing that cap hit certainly won't be a problem. Other players with cap hits above $1 million were Terrence McGee ($2.25M) and Mark Anderson ($1.6M). Dead money comes from signing bonuses that are averaged out over the life of the contract but need to be paid when a player is released or retires.

9. Arthur Moats ($1.35 million). Early in the season, it seemed like Moats had locked down a spot opposite Kiko Alonso as the team's starting linebacker. His snaps trailed off considerably during the season, however, and like his counterpart, Nigel Bradham, he only played about a quarter of the snaps - at twice Bradham's cap figure.

8. Erik Pears ($2.8 million). A steady performer in each of his last two seasons, the 12th-highest paid player on the roster didn't have a good season for the Bills in 2013. Despite playing every offensive snap, his cap figure was way too high for a guy getting beat as consistently as he did.

7. Alan Branch ($3.8 million). Branch had a good enough year to earn a contract extension, but his impact wasn't greater than Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller, who each earned less than Branch in 2013. Seventh on the Bills in cap hit and 29th among defensive ends, Branch only played 52 percent of Buffalo's defensive snaps, earning his playing time through injuries to Alex Carrington and Marcell Dareus.

6. Stephon Gilmore ($2.7 million). Gilmore battled through injuries this season, missing five games and easing back in over the next two. Even when he returned to his normal playing time, he wasn't the same physical player he was in his rookie season. He'll be expected to step up his game under Mike Pettine in 2014, when he hopefully plays more than 57 percent of the team's snaps.

5. Eric Wood ($5.05 million). Wood took a lot of penalties this year and didn't play with the same edge after signing his contract extension in the middle of the season. He is a great interview and sounds like he holds his teammates accountable in the locker room, though, and the offensive line was in flux. It was good to see him finish a season healthy.

4. Mario Williams ($12.4 million). As with last year, it's really hard for Williams to live up to his title as the Bills' highest-paid player, though this year he earned a Pro Bowl nod. He was fourth in the NFL with 13 sacks in 2013. He was adequate against the run and played more snaps than anyone of the defense outside Alonso. He also was the 19th-highest paid player in the league.

3. Jairus Byrd ($6.9 million). Byrd's year was by many accounts a success. He made the Pro Bowl and had four interceptions in just 11 games. But for nearly $7 million and as the second-highest-paid player on your team, you want a guy who is going to be there in training camp and out there for a good portion of the plays as opposed to the only 55 percent of snaps Byrd saw the field for.

2. Brad Smith ($1.88 million). Smith was placed on injured reserve prior to the 2013 season at roster cutdown day with a rib injury despite the prognosis for a return midway through the season. He was released from injured reserve on November 8, but his full salary was guaranteed when he was placed onto the reserve list. He has since signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he has had a minuscule impact on offense and a 31-yard average on kickoff returns.

1. Stevie Johnson ($5.65 million). The Bills' highest-paid offensive player had his worst year since becoming a starter, down over 400 yards and 25 catches from the previous three season averages. He missed four games - two due to injury and two due to his mother's unfortunate death - and that certainly ate into his stats, as did his rookie quarterback(s). He scored just three touchdowns and averaged 11.5 yards per reception, down from 13.2 over the past three years. Couple the down year with his big cap number, and Stevie was the worst bang for the dollar Bills player in 2013. In 2010 and 2011, Stevie was the Bills' best value.

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