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2011 NFL Draft: Von Miller Doesn't Make Cents For Bills

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The headline is a play on words, but it's that I think cannot be overlooked as the 2011 NFL Draft approaches: the Buffalo Bills may have already committed too much money to the OLB position to grab Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller at No. 3 overall.

GM Buddy Nix has given lucrative contracts to two linebackers since September. Chris Kelsay signed a five-year, $28 million extension early last season, and he's scheduled to make $2 million in base salary next year, with other incentives and roster bonuses likely. One year into that extension, he's got four more years of significant money coming his way.

Shawne Merriman not only signed a contract extension earlier this off-season, but it included big guaranteed money. Merriman, who will make a base salary of $2.5 million in 2011 and $4 million in 2012, will receive $3 million guaranteed just for showing up next season.

Those two contracts could very well prohibit Buffalo from selecting an outside linebacker at No. 3, where the money is typically outstanding.

Last year's third overall pick was Bucs DT Gerald McCoy, who signed a five-year, $63.42 million contract that included $35 million guaranteed. According to a recent story by the Associated Press, the NFL is looking to cut guaranteed money by 57%. If that is the case in the new agreement, Miller would be looking at a five-year, $60-something million contract, but with only about $15 million in guarantees. If the old rules revert, it could be as much as $37 million guaranteed after the yearly bump.

Are the Bills likely to sink that much money into one position when one of the three big-money players will be riding the bench at any given time? Perhaps. With Merriman's injury history, it's not unthinkable that the team would want insurance. Kelsay could man the run downs and rotate off the field for Miller or Merriman in passing situations, too.

Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News also addressed this notion yesterday.

"It should be noted the Bills only have big money invested in Merriman if he pans out," said Gaughan. "If he does little this year, they can cut their ties with him. I don't think the money being paid at linebacker would prevent the Bills from taking Miller."

We haven't even discussed the guaranteed money still owed and already paid to another pass rusher, Aaron Maybin. Pass rush is important, but how much of the team's capital can be utilized in one position on the field? It's a question Nix is going to have to answer for Ralph Wilson. Still, it's something worth thinking about as Miller has been such a hot name attached to the Bills.