The Buffalo Bills don’t have a lot of salary cap space in 2018 thanks to trades and retirements accelerating some big cap hits. There are ways Buffalo could clear some cap space, and we discussed several of them in-depth this offseason.
Here, we’ve ranked them by potential savings, not whether we think they are likely to be cut or traded. We’ve used the 2018 salary cap savings as a pre-June 1 cut/trade for comparison’s sake. Click on the links under each blurb for much more information from our earlier discussions.
QB Tyrod Taylor ($10.44 million)
Releasing or trading Tyrod Taylor before his March roster bonus is due would save the Bills a significant amount of cap space. OverTheCap lists the cap savings at $9.44 million but if another team pays Taylor at least $1 million in 2018 (a certainty) then Buffalo is off the hook for his guaranteed money, adding the $1 million to the cap savings. The Bills could also choose to pay him the $6 million roster bonus and trade or release him after that, resulting in a potential savings of $4.44 million
WR Kelvin Benjamin ($8.459 million)
Buffalo traded for Benjamin at the 2017 trade deadline and his half-season in Buffalo would be a really terrible return on their investment. All of his remaining money is in salary, so releasing him would get them out from his entire 2018 contract with no dead money. Since this is an academic exercise and not a prediction, he’s on the list, but he’s not going to be released.
OG Richie Incognito ($6.425 million)
The Bills recently lost center Eric Wood to an early, forced retirement due to a neck injury. His running mate in the middle of the line, Incognito made another Pro Bowl in 2017 and hasn’t shown any signs of losing it even though he’s in his mid-30s. It’s more likely Buffalo creates cap space by extending Incognito than it is for him to be released.
OT Cordy Glenn ($4.85 million)
Like Taylor, Glenn is due a roster bonus early in the offseason. Glenn’s roster bonus is only $2 million but it represents almost half of his cap savings if released. Of course, it might also make him more attractive as a trade piece around draft time if Buffalo takes on that salary cap burden. Glenn’s health is a real wild card and we don’t know how frustrated or confident the Bills’ training and coaching staffs are with is nagging foot/ankle problem. If they like him and he’s healthy, they should probably keep him but if they have any concerns, he could be shipped as part of a deal to get the franchise quarterback.
DE Jerry Hughes ($4.6 million)
Hughes’ sack numbers were way down last season and if that was his only value to the team, this would be an easy call. But he was good against the run, always drawing double teams, and took fewer penalties in 2017. We think he will be back as part of a revamped defensive line that looks to replace Marcell Dareus this offseason.
RB LeSean McCoy ($3.7 million)
Buffalo would save a fair chunk of change for cutting their
entire offense their best offensive player. He’s shown no signs of slowing down despite reaching an advanced age for a running back. He’ll be back.
LB Lorenzo Alexander ($2.85 million)
Another aging veteran, Buffalo can certainly replace Alexander in the lineup. They did just that halfway through the season when they cut his defensive snaps by roughly 25% and went nickel-heavy for the rest of the year. It would shock no one if they released him before or after his roster bonus this offseason. At only $400,000, he would still save $2.45 million on the cap if released after the draft or preseason.
OT Jordan Mills ($1.95 million)
Mills is due a $450,000 roster bonus in March. If he’s released before that, Buffalo could save some cap space but would open up a hole at right tackle. It wouldn’t be that difficult to fill, but if they want to keep their options open with Glenn, they might want to keep Mills around until at least after the draft. His cap savings would be $1.5 million after that roster bonus is paid.
OG John Miller ($1.91 million)
Miller is entering the final year of his rookie contract and met the requirements to up his salary to $1.87 million in 2018. Buffalo could avoid paying that by releasing him if he doesn’t factor into their plans at any point past the preseason.
OG Vlad Ducasse ($1.37 million)
A favorite of coach Sean McDermott and a whipping boy for Bills fans everywhere, Buffalo could save enough money by cutting Ducasse to may his replacement (or save money if they draft the replacement). We’ve been advocating it almost since he was signed, so...
P Colton Schmidt ($1.25 million)
An interesting name near the bottom of our list is Schmidt. Buffalo took the unusual step of keeping a practice squad punter in December, signing Cory Carter. Buffalo owes Schmidt a $100,000 roster bonus so if he’s still on the roster come training camp, his cap savings will be $1.15 million. With the minimum salary for Carter being just $480,000, Buffalo could save $670,000 in real and salary cap dollars by replacing Schmidt with Carter.
WR Andre Holmes ($650,000)
A starter mostly be default at times during the 2017 season, Holmes isn’t a must-keep by any means. The Bills also wouldn’t save a whole lot of money by releasing him so he’ll stay or go on merit com training camp. He’s included simply because people will ask.
FB Patrick DiMarco ($550,000)
DiMarco signed a relatively large contract last offseason and didn’t do much on the field in 2017. Still, they would pay his replacement almost as much as the cap savings if not more, so it likely doesn’t make sense. Another guy who is on the list as informational more than anything.