While we’re on the topic of tight ends Monday, we need to take a look at the salary cap. They aren’t going to cut Dawson Knox and it seems unlikely they will re-sign Tyler Kroft after keeping him inactive for half the year (or he’d be interested). That leaves us with a fairly obvious player; Lee Smith.
Smith did a great job at what they asked him to do. He’s a blocking tight end and has good hands when they ask him to catch. Classic old school tight ends like Smith are being phased out, though, and he has discussed retirement this offseason.
If he’s cut or if he retires, the results on the salary cap are the same; the Bills save a good chunk of money. He’s set to make $1.9 million in base salary, $100,000 in a workout bonus, and the roster bonus this season. None of his $2.25 million cap hit is guaranteed in 2021. He doesn’t have pro-rated signing bonus money that needs to be held to account. As long as the Bills release him by the fifth day of the league year in March, they won’t be on the hook for any money in 2021. He has a $250,000 roster bonus due then, which should accelerate the decision by the Bills.
Smith is definitely a guy I want on my team, but at $2.25 million, they can probably get another player to play his 200+ snaps. In fact, the Bills made him inactive for chunks of the season and he played the fewest number of snaps (from a healthy season) of his entire career in 2020.