The Buffalo Bills have less than $26 million available to sign free agents. With free agency starting this coming Monday, Buffalo may want to add some space and here are a few easy ways to do it. These moves don’t involve releasing anyone; they are win-win for the player and the team.
Extend Kelvin Benjamin
The Bills traded a third-round pick for Benjamin, and while 1.5 years isn’t a horrible return on that investment, Buffalo could give themselves breathing room and sign their top wideout to a deal that keeps him in Buffalo for a few more years. Benjamin is scheduled to make $8.5 million in 2018. A new deal would certainly have a cap hit lower than that in the first year.
Cap savings: $4 million
Restructure Jerry Hughes’ deal
Hughes is set to get a $1 million roster bonus in the near future. Turning that into a signing bonus would prorate half the money into the final year of his deal. It’s not a lot but sometimes every little bit helps. This one has a time limit but if they are going to pay him the bonus, it should be a no-brainer.
Cap savings: $500,000
Restructure Charles Clay’s deal (again)
If Buffalo is planning on keeping Clay for the season, converting two million of his 2018 salary to a signing bonus would save them a million dollars on this year’s cap number. Clay’s dead cap number is already pretty high but when the contract was written, it was structured in a way to make it painful on the Miami Dolphins. Revisiting the contract makes sense, which they’ve already done once.
Cap savings: $1 million
Restructure LeSean McCoy’s contract
The Bills brass seemed really high on McCoy at Combine following their 2017 roster evaluation. If they really agree that McCoy hasn’t lost a step, they could assume he will be on the roster in 2019 at age 30. If that’s going to happen, converting a portion of his $6 million salary into a signing bonus could save some cap space. It would make it more difficult to move on from him next offseason if he hit the wall, but they could work it in a way where they would still be saving money if they released him next offseason.
Cap savings: $1.5 million
Figure out the Eric Wood situation
Hopefully this has already happened behind the scenes because it’s pretty clear to see it hadn’t by the time Wood’s press conference was held. Buffalo is on the hook for almost all of Wood’s $8.875 million cap number in 2018 as his salary is guaranteed for injury and his dead cap money can’t be moved. If he retires, the Bills will need to add $2.167 million more in dead cap money to his hit. That is, unless they can make it happen after June 1st (or have it designated as post-June 1). Then, that $2.167 million he has in dead money wouldn’t be accelerated into 2018, it would stay in 2019 where Buffalo has considerable cap space.
Cap change: not adding $2.167 million in dead cap money
These moves together would give Buffalo $6 million in additional cap space and save more than $2 million more. With that additional $8 million, they could sign one or two free agents.