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AFC East Roundup: salary cap moves ahead of free agency

The Buffalo Bills and their divisional foes have made moves to improve their roster ahead of free agency

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

Last season, the AFC West made a ton of moves towards what felt like an arms race for football supremacy. We saw the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, and Denver Broncos all make eyebrow-raising moves in an attempt to overthrow the Kansas City Chiefs. In the end though, the Chiefs took another division crown while the other three teams had disappointing seasons. This year, we’re seeing something similar take place in the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and New England Patriots trying to overthrow the Buffalo Bills. There’s much to discuss this week on the AFC East Roundup!

We start with the defending AFC East Champion Buffalo Bills. The noteworthy news from yesterday is that linebacker Matt Milano received a two-year extension that stretches his time in Buffalo to at least 2026. The move also freed up $6 million in salary cap space for the 2023 season. There has been chatter of Josh Allen and Von Miller restructuring their contracts to free up a lot of money, but as of now it remains speculation. The Bills enter a key offseason with safety Jordan Poyer and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds hitting the free-agent market on March 15 when the new league year begins.

In Miami, there was a general feeling that a big move was coming from the Dolphins after the team restructured the contract of Tyreek Hill, saving $18 million in cap space. On Sunday, we found out why as the team traded for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Los Angeles Rams. From an assets standpoint, the trade cost the team very little — a third-round pick and a backup tight end. Miami now leads the league in available cap space with the amount of money they freed up by restructuring almost $49 million.

The Jets are in a precarious spot heading into the start of free agency on Wednesday. That’s because the team is in limbo on the status on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Last week, New York sent its contingent to meet with Rodgers to discuss his interest in playing for the Jets this season. All reports indicate that the meeting went well and that the framework of a deal is already in place for the two teams to make the trade. However, everyone is waiting for Rodgers to officially decide if he’s playing football this season or if he’s going to retire. Over the weekend, the Jets restructured three contracts to free up $15.2 million in cap space, which gives the team enough room to complete a trade for Rodgers.

Rounding out the division are the Patriots who haven’t done anything splashy in the lead up to free agency. The big news was that starting safety and team captain, Devin McCourty, announced his retirement after 13 seasons with New England. This leaves a massive hole in the team’s defense. There have been murmurs of the team trading or signing a true number-one receiver this offseason, but nothing has moved beyond a simmer at this point.