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2016 Buffalo Bills salary cap: dead money and injured players

We kick off our look at the worst return on investment for the Bills in 2016.

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

Every NFL team has contracts they wish they could ditch or players they hoped would live up to the big money handed them in free agency. Most of the time, that's not how it worked. Several Buffalo Bills provided a low return on their investment during the 2016 season.

Over the course of the next two weeks we will profile the worst offenders. These players earned big pay days for doing little work on the field or, in some cases, a lot of mediocre or even bad work.

The numbers we use have been calculated and assembled by, and is the player's total salary cap figure for 2016. That includes prorated portions of signing bonuses, salary, and any other bonuses paid to give the most complete picture of total payments.

Before we get to the players that underperformed their cap hit, we will get to the players that didn’t get a chance to perform at all, but still counted against the cap. If they didn’t get a chance to play, there is no use putting them on our list but we can still mention them.

Dead cap numbers

These players didn’t play for the Bills in 2016 but still counted against the salary cap due to portions of signing bonuses that were pro-rated over the life of the contract. We won’t put them into our top 10, but they are still worth mentioning.

DE Mario Williams ($7 million)

That’s a hefty cap hit, but it would have been much worse to pay him a lot more for the lackluster season he put up in Miami, which led to the Dolphins benching him down the stretch.

OG Chris Williams ($1.75 million)

A Doug Marrone-era offensive lineman, Williams is still hurting the Bills even though he hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2014. At least this is the last cap hit for Williams and his contract is off the books.

LB Manny Lawson ($1.05 million)

Lawson couldn’t find a landing spot in 2016 after being cut by the Bills. He signed as a free agent with the team in 2013.

CB Leodis McKelvin ($1 million)

The last of Buffalo’s former players to cost seven figures against the team’s 2016 cap, McKelvin was released by the Bills but still had just a bit of his pro-rated signing bonus left. Everyone else counting dead money had a cap hit below a million dollars.

Injured players

Injured players still count against the salary cap and while some players have smaller numbers written into their contracts, they all count. It’s unfair to count these folks as "worst return for the cash", so we will list them separate from our top 10 list of players who actually got to play.

WR/ST Marcus Easley ($1.62 million)

Easley suffered a horrific injury at the end of the 2015 season and it cost him 2016 during his recovery. His hit still counted against Buffalo’s salary cap.

LB Reggie Ragland ($1.06 million)

Ragland was the only player on injured reserve with a cap hit over a million bucks. Other players like TE Chris Gragg, S Colt Anderson, S Robert Blanton, and LB IK Enemkpali all cost $600k or more against the cap.