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Buffalo Bills release John Brown, Quinton Jefferson

Two veterans headed to free agency as the team trims payroll.

The Buffalo Bills have released wide receiver John Brown and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson, the team announced on Wednesday. Facing a very challenging salary cap situation, Buffalo was going to need to make a few cuts in order to pay for a full roster in 2021. Brown and Jefferson are the first we know about.

Brown was Buffalo’s leading receiver in 2019, setting a career high in receptions and yards, and his presence was a key factor in Josh Allen’s growth into a successful quarterback. But 2020 wasn’t kind to the wideout. Several nagging injuries ate into Brown’s season. He was only available for nine games, and not nearly as effective when he did return to the field. He finished fourth in yards and receptions a year after leading the team in those stats. By releasing Brown, the Bills will save $8 million on the salary cap in 2021.

Jefferson had 23 tackles and three sacks in his only season with the Bills. He tacked on three tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Jefferson rated highly in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate metric, but struggled to actively pressure the quarterback in 2020. Set to incur a cap hit of $8 million in 2021, the Bills will only be accountable for $1.5 million after releasing Jefferson.

The Bills also reportedly agreed to a pay cut for defensive tackle Vernon Butler, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The exact terms are unclear for Butler, who was set to be paid $7.8 million this year.

Overall, the Bills opened up at least $14.5 million of cap space with these moves.