The Buffalo Bills undoubtedly suffered when Marcell Dareus, the anchor of their defensive line, and one of, if not their best player on that side of the ball began the 2016 season on a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy and program for substance abuse. The Bills accumulated a .500 record in that span (2-2), dropping their first two contests before rebounding.
It’s not far-fetched to believe the Bills instead could have perhaps won those first two games (a 13-7 loss to the Ravens and 37-31 loss to the Jets) had their star defensive tackle been available to wreck havoc against those clubs.
But that’s neither here, nor there; instead, here’s a real, non-hypothetical benefit, to those four games that Dareus was suspended: The Bills will be returned some of his 2016 guaranteed salary in the form of a salary cap credit.
According to WGR 550’s Sal Capaccio, the Bills will receive a 1.875 million in salary cap credit for the four games that Dareus was suspended.
That number is not very appealing, but when you add that to the roughly $33 million in cap space that Sportrac projects the Bills will have in 2017 — which accounts for the expected rise of the NFL salary cap to as high as $170 million compared to around $152 million in 2016, plus the $2M in cap space that will be rolled over from last season — then that’s nearly $35 million that the Bills can spend on free agents in 2017.
However, it’s important to keep these numbers in perspective. As we previously wrote, $35 million in available cap space will likely not allow Buffalo to be among the big spenders in free agency given the high amount players they have who are set to hit the open market.
It’s a bittersweet feeling I know, but hey, at least the Bills are getting something back for the selfish actions of one guy.