John Wawrow of the Associated Press is reporting that Buffalo Bills free-agent linebacker Matt Milano is expected to test free agency when the league year opens next month. The former fifth-round pick has been a hotly debated topic among Bills fans for the last two offseasons.
The writing has been on the wall since COVID-19 shrank the NFL’s salary cap for this upcoming season. The Bills are within a few million dollars of the cap, plus or minus depending on your calculation of the expected cap, and Milano is expected to command $14.5 million per season on the open market.
“Listen, we want to keep good players. Matt’s a good player, so we’d love to keep him here,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said in January. “But, again, he’s earned this right and we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”
Buffalo can release several players to create cap space, but with holes at linebacker, cornerback, right tackle, both offensive guard spots, punter, kick returner, and elsewhere, committing that much money to an oft-injured Milano would have hindered their ability to solve all of their problems.
A majority of Bills fans thought the team would move on from Milano this offseason, with just 36 percent of the vote saying re-sign Milano. Most fans want to add a starting linebacker in the 2021 NFL Draft (24 percent) while almost as many want to see A.J. Klein in that role (21 percent).
- All-22 Analysis: Matt Milano’s 2020 season
- All-22 Analysis: A.J. Klein’s 2020 season
- Contract projection: What will Matt Milano make in the 2021 offseason?
- Contract analysis: How much would it cost to move on from A.J. Klein?
- Could the Bills rely on their young depth at linebacker?
- Free agent options exist at the linebacker position
- 2021 NFL Draft has linebackers that could fill Buffalo’s needs
- Opinion: I’m as shocked as you that the Bills aren’t going to re-sign Matt Milano