clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Buffalo Bills salary cap: Corey Graham, Leodis McKelvin contracts under negotiation, per report

The Bills are looking to create salary cap space and the elder statesmen in the secondary are under the microscope.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
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 Buffalo Bills aren't just looking to restructure Charles Clay's contract in the next couple weeks, reports Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 in Buffalo. They are also taking a look at two veteran defenders in an attempt to save salary cap space. Citing two sources, Capaccio says the Bills are also looking to restructure the current deals of Leodis McKelvin and Corey Graham.

In December, McKelvin indicated publicly he'd be willing to take a pay cut to remain on the roster as a third cornerback behind Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby or back-up safety saying, "I have a lot of money in the bank." McKelvin's rookie deal paid him nearly $20 million and in 2013 he re-signed with the team for another four years and $17 million. He is owed $3.1 million in salary in the final year of that extension, a steep price for his backup role. Without a restructure, Buffalo could release him this offseason and save $3.9 million in cap space.

Graham was signed to a four year, $16.3 million deal in 2014 to play cornerback but was moved to safety prior to the 2015 season after Buffalo drafted Darby. He is owed more than $3.1 million in salary over each of the final two years of his deal. Releasing Graham outright would save $2.6 million in cap space but create a massive hole in the back end of Buffalo's defense with a huge question make surrounding fellow starter Aaron Williams.

It's possible the Bills could play the two against each other, forcing one to take a pay cut under the threat of release. One takes a contract restructure to be the starting safety while the other is released. It would be a major savings for the Bills' salary cap and a gamble with Williams' return still in question.

McKelvin played in nine games in 2015 after taking a full calendar year to return from a broken ankle. He recorded two interceptions and 32 tackles on the season and returned seven punts for 21 yards (and two fumbles). Graham started all 16 games at safety compiling 122 tackles, a sack, two fumble recoveries, and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

The Bills are currently over the projected 2016 salary cap but these two moves would save them money. Other likely moves include restructuring Charles Clay's contract by converting a roster bonus to a signing bonus and the release of defensive end Mario Williams. All these moves would give the Bills enough money to re-sign key free agents Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito as well as work out long-term deals with Stephon Gilmore and possibly Tyrod Taylor.

Expect news on the contracts over the next two weeks; both McKelvin and Graham are due rosters bonuses in the second week of March.