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Buffalo Bills 2018 compensatory picks in play thanks to Anquan Boldin

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The Boldin signing made it more likely that Buffalo could get a comp pick in 2018.

In June, we discussed how the Buffalo Bills wouldn’t receive any compensatory picks for the loss of Stephon Gilmore despite his massive contract. The signing of wide receiver Anquan Boldin doesn’t count in the formula because it took place too late in the offseason, but could nudge the Bills further down the path to acquiring a compensatory pick nonetheless.

This is because the formula for comp picks begins with a net loss of free agents signed during the compensatory window. Currently, since Buffalo signed more free agents than they lost early in the offseason, they won’t receive any picks. But that could change if the Bills released some of those signees.

According to OverTheCap.com, Buffalo signed seven free agents in the qualifying window and lost five. In order to get that Gilmore pick, they need a net loss so they would have to rid themselves of three of those signings by the compensatory cutoff, assumed to be in Week 10 because the NFL has never shared the compensatory formula.

This is where Boldin comes in. By signing him, it makes Andre Holmes, signed during the window, more expendable. Good teams manipulate the compensatory pick system and the Bills under new general manager Brandon Beane can do the same thing over the coming weeks to earn a projected third-round pick for the loss of Gilmore and even a projected fourth-round pick for Robert Woods, if they choose.

Let’s take a look at the players Buffalo would have to release to get there and power re-rank them in terms of likelihood. We have included the dead cap hit that would be associated with the release.

1. OL Vlad Ducasse ($250,000 dead money)

First on our previous list, Ducasse stays on top. He has played with the second team all training camp and while I think he will make the initial 53-man roster, he is who I project the Bills will cut when Seantrel Henderson returns from his suspension. Ducasse might only need to be released by Week 10 to make it work for the compensatory pick.

2. WR Andre Holmes ($2.45 million dead money)

Holmes was third on our previous list but moves one spot after Boldin supplants him in the top three receivers and Rod Streater’s great training camp. Buffalo has salary cap space and if he is the difference between an extra third rounder or not, it would be worth pulling the trigger.

3. DE Ryan Davis ($100,000 dead money)

Eddie Yarbough has been on fire during training camp, supplanting Davis as the top defensive end understudy for now. Davis has been dealing with a concussion for most of the past week and has no timetable for return. If he is the only thing standing in the way of that third rounder, you could see it as a possibility because it’s so cheap.

4. K Steven Hauschka ($4 million dead money)

Buffalo would need to release four of these guys to get the comp pick for Woods in addition to the pick for Gilmore. Undrafted free agent Austin Rehkow is the only other kicker on the roster, but he’s been getting plenty of offseason reps. It would be a significant cap hit, so it’s unlikely, but how many kickers are worth a third- or fourth-round pick? Is Hauschka one of them?

5. FB Patrick DiMarco ($3.3 million dead money)

DiMarco is a virtual lock to make the roster. Buffalo is thin at running back, so Mike Tolbert will already have a roster spot, it seems. But, his role might be diminished if Buffalo is going to run more three-receiver sets with Boldin. I’m not buying that for now.

6. S Jordan Poyer ($5 million dead money)

The Bills have zero depth at safety. It would be shocking to see them release Poyer, who has a stranglehold as a starter.

7. DB Micah Hyde ($10.3 million dead money)

Huge dead money. Versatility at positions of great need. Not happening.

Crystal ball time. It’s Week 6, and Buffalo just activated Henderson from the suspended list, releasing Ducasse. Holmes was released at the end of camp because he was the number five receiver. Ryan Davis is the only thing standing in your way of a third round pick. Are you really going to hold off on releasing Davis or even Hauschka during the bye?