Through one week of 2023 NFL free agency, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has overseen a veteran player acquisition phase in which he has signed or re-signed 10 total players for just $24.157 million in 2023 salary cap allocation.
Some of these names are, to be sure, back-end roster guys who aren’t guaranteed a spot on the team during the next regular season. Many more, however, are known commodities that the team likely has a specific role in mind for next year as they continue to chase their Super Bowl aspirations.
Yes, the Bills have actually signed or re-signed 12 players thus far, but with contract details not yet confirmed for running back Damien Harris and offensive tackle David Quessenberry at the time of this writing, we’ll roll with the 10 deals we do have information on, all courtesy of Spotrac.
Jordan Poyer, S — $4.85 million
When healthy, the 32-year-old Poyer is a crucial, every-down presence for Buffalo’s defense that is undergoing something of a transition up the middle. Poyer’s two-year, $12.5 million deal contains $7 million in guarantees, $4 million of which is a signing bonus. The $4.85 million in cap space this season consists of his fully guaranteed $2.24 million salary, $2 million in signing bonus proration, $360,000 in likely-to-be-earned per-game bonuses, and a $250,000 workout bonus. His cap hit grows to $7.5 million in 2024, with the $2.65 million difference between years comprised of a $2.5 million hike in base salary (up to $4.74 million) and an extra $150,000 in per-game bonuses.
Connor McGovern, OG — $4 million
A shoo-in to become Buffalo’s starting left guard next season, the 25-year-old McGovern signed a three-year, $22.35 million deal as Buffalo’s first move of significance in free agency. The contract contains $11 million guaranteed, $8 million of which is a signing bonus. His $4 million in cap space this season consists of $1.9 million in base salary (fully guaranteed), $2 million in signing bonus proration, and a $100,000 workout bonus. The cap hits inflate to $7.9 million in 2024 (all from a base salary hike to $5.8 million), and $8.45 million in 2025 (including $5.35 million in base salary and a $1 million roster bonus). There’s also $2 million on the books in 2026 for signing bonus proration, in what amounts to a void year contractually.
Deonte Harty, WR — $3.745 million
The Bills brought Harty in to try and improve their fourth receiver role — a slot type who can stretch the field horizontally and vertically, as well as diversify the run game with motions, but who may not necessarily be a high-volume target. Harty’s two-year, $9.5 million deal includes $5.25 million guaranteed, $2.75 million of which is a signing bonus. His $3.745 million cap hit this season consists of a fully guaranteed $2 million base salary, $1.375 million in signing bonus proration, per-game bonuses of $120,000, and a workout bonus of $250,000. The cap number increases to $5.635 million in 2024, as his salary rises to $2.625 million, his per-game bonuses rise to $765,000, and a $500,000 roster bonus comes due.
Tyrel Dodson, LB — $2.01 million
A special teams mainstay throughout his career, Dodson returns to the Bills on a one-year deal with — according to the team — a chance at replacing departed free-agent linebacker Tremaine Edmunds as the team’s starting middle linebacker. His one-year, $2.01 million deal is fully guaranteed, with $1.01 million in base salary and a $1 million signing bonus.
Dane Jackson, CB — $2.01 million
A part-time starter for the Bills the past two seasons at boundary corner, the 26-year-old Jackson was given an original-round RFA tender by Buffalo, then re-signed to a one-year deal to lower his 2023 cap hit. Like Dodson, Jackson will likely be given an opportunity to compete for a starting job next season — and, like Dodson, his one-year deal comes in at a fully guaranteed $2.01 million, with $1.01 million in base salary and a $1 million signing bonus.
Tyler Matakevich, LB — $1.8325 million
Entering his seventh season as a pro, the 30-year-old Matakevich has carved out his niche as a core special teams player. He returns to Buffalo on a one-year, fully guaranteed $2.5 million deal with a void year for cap-accounting purposes. His $1.8325 million cap hit in 2023 contains all of the contract’s financials ($1.165 million in base salary and a $1.335 million signing bonus), minus half of the signing bonus proration ($667,500), pushed into a 2024 void year.
Trent Sherfield, WR — $1.77 million
The Bills were without special teams ace and reserve wideout Jake Kumerow for much of the 2022 season due to injury, and his presence was missed. Sherfield is potentially a higher-upside replacement for Kumerow, with core special teams value plus a more unique skill offering as a receiver. His one-year, $1.77 million deal contains $750,000 guaranteed. He’s on the books in 2023 for a base salary of $1.42 million, with a $300,000 signing bonus, and a $50,000 workout bonus.
Sam Martin, P — $1.662 million
Martin came to Buffalo late last summer and settled an unsettled position for the Bills, and his reward was the three-year, $6 million contract he signed at the start of free agency. That deal contains $2.365 million guaranteed, including a $1.2 million signing bonus. His $1.662 million cap hit in 2023 consists of a fully guaranteed $1.165 million base salary, $400,000 in signing bonus proration, $48,000 in per-game bonuses, and a $49,000 workout bonus. The cap hits rise to $2.05 million in 2024 (thanks mostly to a base salary hike to $1.55 million) and $2.285 million in 2025 (again a base salary hike, this time to $1.785 million).
Cam Lewis, CB — $1.185 million
The Bills brought back Lewis — a special teams staple and a reserve at both cornerback and safety at various points through his young career — on a one-year, $1.185 million deal with $350,000 guaranteed, including a $125,000 signing bonus. His 2023 cap figure consists of $1.01 million in base salary, the $125,000 signing bonus, and a $50,000 workout bonus.
Kyle Allen, QB — $1.0925 million
Once veteran backup quarterback Case Keenum went home to the Houston Texans, the Bills needed a new primary backup for star quarterback Josh Allen, and Kyle Allen is where they landed. Kyle Allen’s one-year, $1.2325 million deal contains $350,000 guaranteed, a $100,000 signing bonus, $1.08 million in base salary, and a $52,500 workout bonus.