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Buffalo Bills investing heavily in defensive linemen

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The Buffalo Bills have tied up a lot of money and draft picks in their defensive line

The Buffalo Bills have been a defense-first kinda team the last few years. And when your talent level definitively leads the way on one side of the ball so too do the paychecks. For defense, it’s easy to spend big money on the line. While the Bills have tied up a lot of cash on the defensive line before, let’s take a look at how much will be tied up in the 2020 season. Even if you think it’s a lot, you might be surprised.


A few cap hits to kick this off

We’ll stick to the cap for this as it’s the number the team is obliged to stay under. As such, let’s review a few of the 11 players and their numbers (per Spotrac.com) to get the ball rolling. Here’s the full list for the curious reader.

  • Trent Murphy leads the way with $9.775 million
  • Jerry Hughes follows as a close second with $9.5 million
  • Star Lotulelei is next at $8.1 million
  • New additions Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson are next at roughly $7 million each
  • After that things get more reasonable with Ed Oliver’s $4.5 million—the only other contract over $1,000,000—not to mention the first-round pick they spent on him
  • Ed Oliver’s cap hit is right around the average for a defensive lineman on the Buffalo Bills

League rankings

Big money on the defensive line in and of itself isn’t necessarily indicative of much. After all, with both ends and tackles able to earn big money, it’s a small cross section of the team that can rapidly be filled with premium players. In order to see where things truly stand let’s add league context. You can follow along with this page from Spotrac.

  • The Buffalo Bills are currently on the hook for $49,782,908 on the defensive line. For total dollars that’s second only behind the Kansas City Chiefs
  • The average team spends just over $33 million
  • Because teams can roll over unused cap, percentage of adjusted cap space is the more relevant number. Buffalo falls to third here, at 22.54% of their cap going to the defensive line
  • The league average is 15.23% of cap space
  • Not all teams have the same number of players under contract, so average cost per player is also a good number to look at. Buffalo remains in third using the measure as well, at about $4.5 million
  • The average defensive lineman earns about $3.3 million

But wait! There’s more

If you scoured the list of Bills’ linemen you may have noticed that free agent Mario Addison isn’t on the list. Currently listed as an outside linebacker according to many football sites, he’s left off the line grouping. Per Spotrac, he’ll count just under $10 million dollars this year, which puts him at the head of the class in Buffalo.

That addition puts the Bills at a touch below $60 million. That’s 27% of their adjusted cap. It also raises the average cap hit for the team’s lineman to $4,979,304. That’s 51% more money than an average defensive lineman.


Summary

Sliced in just about any way you want, it’s quite clear that the Buffalo Bills are spending a ton of money on the defensive line. The Bills could look to reduce the position group’s cap hit by cutting a couple at the top end. Trent Murphy seems like the most logical spot to find some cash, with roughly $8 million to be gained via cut. With the amount of cash added this offseason going to players expected to be starters, it’s not even unthinkable Jerry Hughes could be on his way out of town.

Shockingly, even if both players are shipped out saving the Bills about $15 million in cap, they’d still be looking at about $45 million. That could go down a bit further still with a few other cuts/trades but would still likely remain toward the top end of league spending.