At first glance, the Buffalo Bills don’t need more cap space in 2020. According to Spotrac, they have $83 million in cap space. With big deals possibly on the horizon for Tre’Davious White, Matt Milano, Dion Dawkins, and more, Buffalo may want to go into free agency with as much space as possible.
We’ve spent plenty of time discussing possible free-agent cuts to save cap space and get better, and we will continue doing so, but this article is about creating 2020 cap space WITHOUT cutting any players.
Several Bills players are roster locks for the 2020 season based on skill, talent, and work ethic. As such, Buffalo could re-work their deals trading base salary or roster bonuses for a pro-rated signing bonus to spread out the cap hit. It kicks the can down the road, but Buffalo has already done something similar with Star Lotulelei this year (though that came with a straight up pay cut, as well.)
C Mitch Morse
2020 cap savings: $2 million
Mitch Morse has a $1 million roster bonus due in a few weeks and $4.775 million of his 2020 salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 22nd. If the Bills converted a portion of that to a new “signing bonus,” they could pro-rate the money over the remainder of the deal. They have to be a little bit careful because of the 130% limitations entering the final year of the CBA, but that’s doable. Morse also has per-game roster bonuses built into his contract so he still gets paid for being on the field in 2020.
Plan: Take $1 million roster bonus and $2 million of guaranteed salary as new signing bonus. Pro-rating $3 million over three years of the deal lowers 2020 cap hit by $2 million.
DE Jerry Hughes
2020 cap savings: $1.75 million
Hughes is due a $1 million roster bonus in three weeks. His 2020 salary is already fully guaranteed. When the Bills give it to him only matters to the 130% rule, really. They can grab a chunk of that salary they are already on the hook for and pay it up front to clear some 2020 cap room to sign a running mate for him at defensive end.
Plan: Take $1 million roster bonus and $2.5 million of his 2020 salary and convert it to a new “signing bonus,” clearing $1.75 million in 2020 cap space by pro-rating it over the final two years.
WR Cole Beasley
2020 cap savings: $1 million
Cole Beasley has a lot of money guaranteeing on March 22nd; way more than his free-agent colleague from a year ago, John Brown. In addition to a $500,000 roster bonus that will be paid out, $3.7 million of Beasley’s 2020 salary is guaranteed that day. We can’t use all of that because of the 130% rule, but we can take $1 million of his about-to-be guaranteed salary and convert it to a signing bonus. That will clear $1 million in cap space in 2020.
Plan: Take $500,000 roster bonus and $1 million in guaranteed salary as new signing bonus. Pro-rate $1.5 million over the remaining three years of the deal, clearing $1 million in cap space in 2020.
WR John Brown
2020 cap savings: $1 million
John Brown is very likely in the team’s plans in 2020. He is due a $500,000 roster bonus on March 22nd and $1.5 million of his salary guarantees on the same day. Turning that combined $2 million into a “signing bonus” would bump $1 million of the cap hit to 2021.
Plan: Take $500,000 roster bonus and $1.5 million in guaranteed salary as new signing bonus. Pro-rate $2 million over the final two years of the deal, lowering his 2020 cap hit by $1 million.