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2021 Best Buffalo Bills values: No. 1—QB Josh Allen

Weird for a guy who signed a massive deal last offseason—let me explain...

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 signed their franchise quarterback to a huge contract in 2021, but the salary cap management dictated a very unique contract structure. That cap management, coupled with the fact that he was playing the final year of his rookie contract, was enough to keep his cash figure low and land Josh Allen number one on our list of Bills values.

In order to afford big contracts for their talented players, the Bills must also find some diamonds in the rough. Cheap veterans and rookies on their entry contracts have to play a major role on the Buffalo Bills and general manager Brandon Beane has found several.

In the past when we’ve done our listing, we used cap hit to reflect value, but with the cap shenanigans employed by Brandon Beane recently and the improvement of the databases, we’ve switched to yearly cash payments as our metric.

Without looking it up, you’d probably be pretty surprised to know that Allen ranked 14th in the NFL in terms of QB cash. Sure, he made just more than $20 million in cash in 2021, but that was less than a third of the top-paid QB and half of the second-highest on the list. Here are the guys he’s behind (I rounded the numbers to the nearest hundred-thousand):

  1. Dak Prescott ($75 million)
  2. Tom Brady ($39.4 million)
  3. Jared Goff ($25.7 million)
  4. Jimmy Garoppolo ($25.4 million)
  5. Trevor Lawrence ($24.8 million)
  6. Ryan Tannehill ($24.5 million)
  7. Zach Wilson ($23.6 million)
  8. Matt Ryan ($23 million)
  9. Trey Lance ($22.8 million)
  10. Patrick Mahomes ($22.8 million)
  11. Aaron Rodgers ($22.7 million)
  12. Carson Wentz ($21.3 million)
  13. Kirk Cousins ($21 million)

The San Francisco 49ers had two guys make more than Allen! He came in just ahead of Matthew Stafford ($20 million), who won the Super Bowl.

Allen had another MVP-caliber season in 2022, finishing top-ten in passing yards, completions, attempts, yards, touchdown passes, QBR, and he was second in the NFL in rushing TDs by a quarterback and third in rushing yards. His 42 combined touchdowns (36+6) was second in the NFL to Tom Brady (43+2).

In the 2021 postseason, his offense finished off a perfect game with no field goals, punts, or turnovers in the Wild Card round against the Patriots. He went 21-of-25 for 308 yards and five touchdowns plus another 66 yards on the ground. The following week he brought the Bills back against the Chiefs multiple times, converting several fourth downs on his way to a 27-of-37 performance totaling 329 yards and four touchdown passes plus 68 yards on the ground.

He didn’t just have stats: He played so well that his offensive coordinator got a promotion to head coach with the New York Giants and helped several members of the team reach career highs and find their own spot on the best value list.

Getting top-three play from the 14th-highest paid quarterback in the league is a great value. The best on the team.

Like we told you, the contract structure and the fact that we’re now truly entering the years of his second contract mean his cap hit is going to go up in 2022. His nearly $47 million in cash in 2022 is pretty hefty, and currently ranks second in the entire NFL behind only Stafford ($61.5 million) and his massive signing bonus.

Buffalo Bills 2021 Best Values

  1. QB Josh Allen
  2. LB Tremaine Edmunds
  3. TE Dawson Knox
  4. WR Gabe Davis
  5. CB Levi Wallace
  6. DT Ed Oliver
  7. DT Harrison Phillips
  8. S Jordan Poyer
  9. OT Spencer Brown
  10. RB Devin Singletary

Honorable Mentions