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2021 contract projection for Buffalo Bills free-agent lineman Jon Feliciano

What can Feliciano expect to make?

Obviously, 2020 and the 2021 offseason have been very different for fans and players of the NFL. With COVID-19, revenues are down and practice structures have changed, favoring continuity. With that being said, a lot is up in the air on the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line right now.

Will the Bills keep Mitch Morse or do they prefer to have Jon Feliciano in that position? The Bills have none of their starting guards from a year ago under contract for 2021 and their starting right tackle, too. General manager Brandon Beane also said the team needed to improve running the ball in 2021 and specifically said it wasn’t the fault of the running backs.

With all that in mind, I think Feliciano is the most likely candidate for a new contract with the Bills, and it may come at the expense of Morse. For now, we’re going to write it up as a guard contract because guards make more money. If and when Buffalo releases Morse or says he is going to be cut, then we can adjust our thinking.

Feliciano is going to be 29 when he signs his new deal with two seasons as Buffalo’s starting guard under his belt (even though he missed half of 2020 with a weightlifting injury). Prior to that he was a backup and spot starter for the Oakland Raiders.


Comparable contracts

James Carpenter
Atlanta Falcons, 2019
Four years, $21 million

Carpenter jumped from the New York Jets to the Falcons after a season where he only started ten games. A former first-round pick, Carpenter has started games at right tackle and guard throughout his eight-year career leading up to his most recent contract, which he signed at age 29.

J.R. Sweezey
Arizona Cardinals, 2019
Two years, $9 million

Sweezey was 29 when he signed his deal and had been his team’s primary starter at guard since his second season.

Rodger Saffold
Tennessee Titans, 2019
Four years, $44 million

The big fish of this group, Saffold was 30 when he signed his deal. The former 33rd overall pick had a long track record for multiple teams and solidified and turned into a hard-nosed leader for the Titans’ offensive line, much like they want Feliciano to do. If I’m Feliciano’s agent, this is the contract I’m bringing to the table. The Bills should counter, though; Saffold hasn’t missed more than one game in a season since 2015 and had started more than 100 games in the NFL by the time he earned this contract.


Contract projection

That is a really, really big spread of contracts up there, from $4.5 million per year to $11 million per year. Sweezey’s contract was essentially a one-year deal with a team option for a second, and I’m not using it very much in my figures. Carpenter’s deal is more my floor here, and he received a modest guaranteed figure, with half of his second-year salary guaranteed with the other half guaranteeing in time for free agency. Saffold’s first two years were effectively guaranteed.

Four years, $30 million
$11 million fully guaranteed

I waffled between $7 and $8 million per season before settling right in the middle. The top-ten guards in the NFL make $11 million per season, and I don’t think he’s a top-ten guard. Number 20 on that list makes $7 million per season, so I’m putting Feliciano in the top 20 guards in the NFL with this deal. With two starting guards on each team, it effectively makes him a top-ten starting guard.

Carpenter had one-third of his contract guaranteed, while Saffold had half of his contract guaranteed. A $6 million signing bonus gets him a good chunk of money up front, with $10 million in year one. I added the $1 million roster bonus in 2022 to the guaranteed money as a cap management tool and it allows them to be flexible with him during 2022 training camp, as none of his salary is guaranteed for the season.

That’s $11 million in the first 13 months. If they wanted to throw in a couple million of guaranteed salary in year two, that would be fine since he’d likely be signed for that amount of money by another team and it would offset in the worst-case scenario. His two-year total money is $15 million and for the averages to work out, he’ll need to be here for that long anyway.

All in all, I think it’s a pretty fair contract for Feliciano considering Quinton Spain signed for three years and $15 million a year ago and they didn’t really like him. They gave themselves a lot of outs in Spain’s contract, too, with only $4.5 million guaranteed at signing. They more than double that figure in this projected Feliciano contract.

Here are the yearly breakdowns:

2021
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $4 million (guaranteed)
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $6.1 million

2022
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Roster bonus: $1 million (guaranteed)
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $4.1 million
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $7.2 million
Dead cap if cut: $4.5 million
Cap savings if cut: $2.7 million

2023
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Roster bonus: $500,000
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $5.5 million
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $8.1 million
Dead cap if cut: $3 million
Cap savings if cut: $5.1 million

2024
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Roster bonus: $500,000
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $6 million
Per-game active bonus: Up to $500,000

Cap hit: $8.6 million
Dead cap if cut: $1.5 million
Cap savings if cut: $7.1 million

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