According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, the league’s salary cap in 2022 is expected to jump more than $20 million and top $208 million. The depressed salary cap figures of 2021 and 2022 were negotiated between the NFL and NFL Players Association following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when revenues were down and stadiums were empty. The two-year span was designed to spread out the pain until a hopeful return to normal financials in 2023.
With the move to a 17-game season and massive new television deals, the NFL is more financially lucrative than ever before, even with the limited COVID-19 restrictions still in place.
Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has looked like Neo from The Matrix during the two-year window. While signing several big-money free agents during the last two years, Beane has also restructured contracts as well to pass cap concerns into future years. Previously a fan of evening out cap hits to maintain consistency, Beane has incorporated large option bonuses in future years to guarantee money to players but pay it in the future.
As the contracts currently exist right now, Buffalo has about $199 million in salary cap commitments on the books for 2022, leaving about $10 million in available cap space. That number isn’t reflective on what’s going to happen, though.
First, Josh Allen’s option bonus is going to kick in, and spread out $8.5 million over the remaining years of his contract and adding more than $6 million to the available cap space. Buffalo will have the option to extend or restructure WR Stefon Diggs, as well, to save considerable cap space.
The Bills will have at least $20 million when all is said and done.
Starting spots will need to be addressed with free agents at cornerback 2 (Levi Wallace) and wide receiver (Emmanuel Sanders, though perhaps they will just insert Gabe Davis), as well as backup quarterback (Mitchell Trubisky). Key contributors Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Efe Obada, Harrison Phillips, Justin Zimmer, Siran Neal, Ike Boettger, Isaiah McKenzie, Matt Brieda, and Taiwan Jones are all free agents, as well.