Buddy Nix and Doug Whaley deserve a lot of credit for the folks on this list. The Buffalo Bills did exactly what fans continuously pine for: got great value from aging veterans and young additions to the roster. This list represents the best bang for the dollar Bills in 2013.
10. Robert Woods ($884,868). Despite missing a pair of games with an ankle injury, Woods still had 40 receptions for 587 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie campaign despite a near-catastrophic quarterback situation. He also chipped in a pair of runs for 16 yards. His rapport was clearly best with EJ Manuel, who was named the starter heading into the 2014 season, so hopefully Woods' numbers will only go up.
9. Jim Leonhard ($555,000). The league allows each team to "ignore" up to $1,000,000 in cap money from three veterans with five or more years experience. This is called the veteran exception, and it's in place because for each season you are in the league, the minimum amount a team must pay you goes up. To combat players getting released to save a few thousand, the NFLPA added this exception so players like Leonhard, who made $840,000 in 2013, can compete on a closer monetary field with the youngsters' league minimum. As you'll see, the Bills used this exception to their advantage in 2013. Leonhard benefited by playing more than half of Buffalo's defensive snaps in place of injured Jairus Byrd and Aaron Williams throughout the season, compiling 37 tackles and four interceptions while returning seven punts.
8. Cordy Glenn ($1.1 million). The only player to cross seven figures on this list, Glenn earned his spot with great play as the starting left tackle. Projected by many as a guard coming into the NFL, Glenn has locked down the blind side for two seasons and is making fewer and fewer mistakes as his career progresses.
7. Thad Lewis ($391,764). He was 2-3 as a starting quarterback thrown into the fire this season, but the pro-rated league minimum is a great price to pay for a backup quarterback. He threw more touchdowns than picks and had better per-pass numbers across the board than any of Buffalo's other quarterbacks.
6. Brian Moorman ($391,765). He played in 11 games in 2013 after replacing the man who replaced him, Shawn Powell, early in the season. Moorman played for less than $1 million, and using the veteran exception noted earlier, the Bills were able to bring Moorman's cap number under $400,000. His 41.6 yards per punt weren't great but for the price, the Bills got a bargain.
5. Da'Norris Searcy ($676,106). Searcy had one career-defining play in the season opener, running back a fumble recovery for a touchdown against the Patriots. It was the beginning of a solid season for the safety, who contributed 3.5 sacks, a pick-six, 69 tackles, and solid all-around play to the defense. He is clearly the Bills' third safety and a great value moving forward.
4. Jerry Hughes ($870,000). Obtained in a trade during the preseason, Hughes was labeled a bust in Indianapolis but in Buffalo proved why he was a first-round pick. With 10 sacks and 42 tackles as a pass rush specialist, Hughes was the disruptive force the Bills hoped he could be.
3. Dan Carpenter ($555,000). A late roster addition, Carpenter had a 92 percent success rate on his field goals in 2013, scoring 131 points. He was nothing short of exceptional. He collected paychecks totalling $715,000 in 2013, but like Moorman and Leonhard, the Bills used the veteran exception on Carpenter with great results. He's due for a much larger contract in 2014 with Buffalo or elsewhere.
2. Nickell Robey ($405,000). Quickly inserted into the lineup when Ron Brooks went down to injury, the undrafted free agent making the league minimum quickly established himself as a key contributor on Buffalo's new-look defense. He played more than half of the defensive snaps in 2013. Three sacks, a pick-six, 10 passes defended, a fumble recovery and 39 total tackles is a pretty solid year, all at a bargain-basement price.
1. Kiko Alonso ($781,891). The second round pick finished third in the NFL with 159 tackles, and his cap hit was $7.5 million cheaper than number two on the list, Paul Posluszny, who finished with 161 tackles. He had four interceptions, five passes defended, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. He played every snap on defense.