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2021 NFL Free Agency: Buffalo Bills will need to create cap space for more moves

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills are officially up against the NFL’s 2021 salary cap. Following the signings of multiple returning starters and the additions of QB Mitchell Trubisky, WR Emmanuel Sanders, punter Matt Haack, and tight end Jacob Hollister, the Bills don’t have enough cap room to make another move without manufacturing space.

If they’re going to do it, they’ll need to do it soon. With the fifth day of the league year set for Sunday, several pending roster bonuses could be converted to signing bonuses and pro-rated, but once they are paid on March 21, that option is gone.

Linebacker A.J. Klein has a $1.8 million roster bonus due this weekend. If Buffalo converted that to a signing bonus to spread out the cap hit, they would save $900,000 on the 2021 cap. By including the $3.2 million guaranteed money in his 2021 salary, they could clear $2.5 million very easily, but that move would have to be done Saturday or early Sunday in order to clear the roster bonus money.

Dion Dawkins, Tre’Davious White, and Stefon Diggs don’t have large enough roster bonuses for that to matter much, but a simple restructure where the Bills take part of their 2021 salary and give it to the player up front as a new signing bonus could clear enough cap space for Buffalo to add another player or two.

We covered the numbers for the simple restructures earlier in March.

None of these moves would involve pay cuts similar to what we saw from Mitch Morse, Vernon Butler, and Mario Addison.

As it stands now, the Bills don’t even have the cap space to process the Feliciano or Trubisky contracts according to Spotrac, who says they have $1.1 million in available room (without accounting for the Tyler Matakevich extension, which likely dropped his $3.7 million hit). Feliciano’s cap hit will be above $4 million and Trubisky’s is $2.5 million. That’s before Buffalo needs to account for signing rookies at ~$1.8 million in cap space.